When Things Can’t Get Any Worse
King David certainly experienced more than his share of hard times:
- Hunted by a jealous king
- Loss of his newborn son
- Daughter was raped
- Loss of best friend
But if I had to guess as to what was his most painful moment of life, it would be when his son Absalom died. The scripture says in 2 Samuel 18:33 “The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you–O Absalom, my son, my son!”
Life had dealt him a heavy blow. Here the son he loved, his own flesh and blood, had been trying to kill him and now was dead. And David was left alive — alone with his thoughts.
His thoughts were all-consuming. We know this because the scripture says in 2 Samuel 19:2 -3 “And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, ‘The king is grieving for his son.’ The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle.”
David didn’t remember to encourage his soldiers, thank them. Perhaps he thought of ways he had failed as a father. Perhaps he contemplated what he could have done differently. We know he wished he had died instead of Absalom. All he could think of was all he had lost.
God has been gracious to me. I have never had one of my children try to kill me. I have never had to experience the death of one of my children. But I have experienced great emotional pain. I know what it is like to believe that things can’t get any worse. To endlessly ponder what I did wrong, how I had failed, what I possibly could have done differently. I know what it is to cry out to my Lord, to break down in heaving sobs, to begin to let that pain consume me.
David’s wise council came from a most unlikely place. His army commander, Joab, went to him and said, (2 Samuel 19:6 – 7) “You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”
Joab correctly observed that even worse than David’s present situation was for David to remain in his pain, to forget about his other responsibilities as king, to fail to encourage the soldiers under his care who had done so much for him.
When my pain is all-consuming, when things can’t get any worse, I am in need of the same council from my Lord. Gwen, I know your pain is great, but don’t let all these emotions keep you from getting up and encouraging the little soldiers, the children of God entrusted to you. Do not neglect to lead them, to spur them on, for to do that would be far worse than the pain you now feel.
Child of God, are you in despair? Have you hit rock bottom? Are you going through extraordinary pain right now? It seems things can’t get any worse, but they can. It will be worse for you and the ones God has entrusted to you if you wallow in your sorrow and stay in this empty wasteland. Remember your little soldiers who work for you and look to you for leadership! The battle may have ended badly, but God has new plans in mind for you and your troops.
David experienced terrible pain and was guilty of serious sin, yet that is not what he is remembered for. He is remembered by the children of Israel as being “A man after God’s own heart”, Israel’s greatest king, a prophet, the slayer of giants, and the writer of the book of Psalms — a book that continues to be God’s instrument of encouragement to many.
How will your children remember you?
Psalm 119:50 “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”
Psalm 69:29 – 30 “But as for me, afflicted and in pain– may your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”
Psalm 38:15, 17 “LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God …For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me.”
Copyright November 5th, 2015 by Gwen Fredette
All scripture taken from NIV (New International Version)