The Bible is not a book that is immune to human suffering. Throughout the Scriptures we see bad things happen to good, godly people. We see people get what they don’t deserve. Any faithful reading of Scripture should not lead us to expect that life will be easy simply because we love God and have been saved by His grace. This is because, in a way, the full reward of God’s grace will not be received until the future. Salvation is both a present and future promise: present in that we have been saved from our sin and are being transformed closer and closer into the image of Christ, and future in that it will not be until we die or Jesus returns that we will see the full reward of this grace. We are living in a Kingdom that has not yet been fully realized, and therefore, we still see the effects of sin and suffering that are meant to point us to the eternal rest we will have with God because of Jesus Christ.
In today’s passage, David comes back to his city to see much of it destroyed and his family captured by the enemy. Look at how the ESV captures the emotions of David and his men:
3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep… 6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters.
David is in great despair. Imagine what you would be feeling if your loved ones were taken captive and their lives were in danger. The truth is that every person would have similar emotions in this situation, but the test of character is proven in the reaction. Every person would feel fear, sadness, anger, shock, etc. but the way you respond even in despair will show where your trust lies.
Look at David’s reaction:
6 But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
In the face of suffering, David turned to God. When the temptation to find strength in his own resolve or power arose, he instead chose to rely on God. What does this say about David? It shows that God was truly his focus.
When suffering comes your way, where do you turn? Do you blame God or turn to God? Do you expect that you deserve an easy life free of suffering, or are you prepared to turn to God when suffering inevitably comes? This can be a hard truth to wrestle with, but one that we must be prepared for nonetheless.
By: Graham Withers