Do you want to be successful?
You’ve got to learn how to encourage yourself.
Because there are days when you won’t receive any encouragement from anyone else, you’ve got to do it yourself.
There’s this one passage in the Bible that I love so much. It says, David encouraged himself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)
Let me tell you the Bible story behind this verse.
David and his men—600 of them—went away to work and left their wives and children in their camp called Ziklag. Three days later, tragedy struck. The Amalekites, sworn enemies of Israel, attacked and burned the entire village to the ground—and taking all the women and children with them as slaves.
When David and his men arrived, the Bible says his men “wept until they could weep no more.” Can you imagine 600 men crying at the loss of their wives and children? Can you imagine 600 men weeping over a pile of burning rubble that was once their home?
You think that was bad? It got worse. The Bible says that these men—once upon a time fiercely loyal to David—wanted now to stone David to death.
I’ve noticed that when things go wrong, human beings want to look for someone to blame. We always want to look for a scapegoat to vent our rage.
Imagine you were David.
You just lost your family. Your kids were taken away from you. Your home is now but ashes under your feet. You now own nothing except the clothes that you’re wearing. And the friends that you thought were friends now want to kill you.
This is what you call an Impossible situation.
In other words, it’s a Ziklag…
Are You Going Through A Ziklag?
Are you going through an Impossible situation?
Then you’re going through Ziklag right now.
Perhaps you lost your job. Perhaps you lost your possessions. Perhaps you lost your friends. Perhaps you lost a loved one.
In Ziklag, you have a choice: You can do what the 600 soldiers of David did or you can do what David did.
The 600 men wept and found someone to blame. (Because hurt people hurt people.)
But I love what David did. In the midst of an impossible situation, he did the impossible. What was that? The Bible said, “David encouraged himself in the Lord.”
Let me explain what that meant…
Getting Encouragement From Within
Normally, we get encouragement from people around us.
And rightly so. Because we’re the Body of Christ.
When I feel burdened, the first person I go to is my best friend—who happens to be my wife Marowe. She’s not a preacher. If given a choice not to shop for a year—or to speak in public—she’d choose not to shop for a year. (Okay, maybe one week…) But she’s my encourager. She’s the builder of my faith. When I tell her my burdens, she doesn’t even say anything. She just listens—and I feel my burdens are lifted up from my shoulders.
And I’m spoiled. God gave me the most fantastic friends on planet earth. They’re my Super Friends, my Avengers Team. When I’m going through my struggles, I share it with them—and when I do—I don’t feel alone anymore.
But I believe there are times when we go through Ziklag. Ziklag is a place where even the family and friends that we depend on aren’t there. Perhaps because they’re busy. Or because they’re faraway. Or because they themselves are going through some struggle—and they’re not there for us.
And that’s where you have to learn how to go to God directly.
Ziklag is the place where your relationship with God goes to a whole new level.
Ziklag Is A Furnace…
Let me warn you…
Ziklag is a burial place and a birthplace. It’s where boys are buried and kings are born.
Ziklag is a furnace. If you are made of wood, you will be pulverized. If you are made of gold, you will be purified.
Ziklag is a rock. You can be crushed under the weight of the rock or you can stand on top of the height of the rock—and see the world in a whole new perspective.
Ziklag is a sword. It can kill or it can cut. It can kill your soul or it can cut the cancer in your soul.
In Ziklag, David had to learn a very important life skill, a life skill you need to win permanent victory: You need to learn how to encourage yourself in the Lord. Do not wait for others to encourage you. Do not wait for your spouse to encourage you. Do not wait for your friends to encourage you. Do not wait for your leaders to encourage you. You need to learn how to encourage yourself in the Lord.
How To Encourage Yourself
I don’t know what David did specifically. The Bible doesn’t say what he did.
But I have a guess.
Because I’ve been through Ziklag many times. And I know how I encouraged myself.
I believe David went back into his own history to remember those special times when he saw God intervene in his life. Like when God rescued him from the bear and the lion. Or when God rescued him from Goliath with a stone and a slingshot.
I have those special stories too. I dig deep and remember them….
Like the day God called me to preach when I was twelve…
Or the day God rescued me from my addictions…
I even remember the small miracles in my life.
Let me tell you one of them…
Recall God’s Interventions
Twenty-five years ago, I attended a graduation ceremony in PICC. Not as a preacher but as a photographer. My cousin was graduating and I volunteered to take his pictures. To do that, I borrowed a friend’s expensive camera, complete with a long lens that the paparazzi use. I went up in the balcony and took lots of photos.
It was a long graduation ceremony.
By the time it was over, it was evening.
After the ceremony, I congratulated my cousin and walked back to my borrowed car. (Borrowed camera, borrowed car… You get the picture how poor I was then?) But when I rode the car, I noticed that my bag was light. I looked inside it. To my horror, I saw that the long lens was gone!
I knew that long lens was expensive—more expensive than the camera itself. And I was a poor missionary. I stepped out of the car and looked back at gigantic PICC. Where will I look?
I remember praying, “Oh God, you’ve got to help me!” Immediately, I felt peace. I knew God was in charge.
I walked back to the building, taking a shortcut through the grass. Picture this: I was walking on grass in the dark. And that was when I felt an inner nudge to stop walking.
And I did. At that exact spot, I felt the same nudge to bend over and reach down. In that darkness, I stooped down and held something round. I lifted it up—it was the camera lens!
The grounds of PICC are massive and covered with darkness. It was literally like finding a pin in a haystack.
I remember that day and tell myself, “If God guides me for a something as small as a camera lens, I believe God will guide me for the bigger things in my life.”
God allows Mt. Tabor experiences in our lives to ready us for Mt. Calvary experiences. In Mt. Tabor, Jesus showed Himself with brilliant light beside Moses and Elijah to Peter, James, and John—because he knew that in a few days, they’ll experience the horrific sight of him hanging on a criminal’s cross. When they start doubting, “Did I follow the wrong guy?” they can look back that once upon a time, they saw a glorious Jesus.
Which reminds me of a very important point in the story of David and Ziklag…
God Will Return What Was Stolen From You
David wasn’t only seeking for Encouragement. He was also seeking for Enlightenment. He asked God, “Can I pursue the Amalekites? Can I overtake them?”
God told David, “Pursue the Amalekites. You shall be able to overtake them.” So David rallied his men and they chased after the Amalekites. They found them in the middle of a party, drunk and distracted. They attacked them, defeated them, and took back their wives and children. They also brought home the spoils of war—the wealth of their enemy.
When you experience loss, I believe that if you “encourage yourself in the Lord”, you’ll experience what David experienced: God returned to him what was stolen—plus interest!
What kind of interest? The Old Testament says that the thief, once caught, should return seven times what he has stolen. (Proverbs 6:30-31)
Have you lost anything?
Whenever I lose money in business, I ask God to return it to me sevenfold. It happens.
If you go to the courthouse of men, they may punish the thief and ask him to return what he has stolen. But if you go to the courthouse of God, claim in faith that God Himself will see to it that what was stolen from you shall be returned sevenfold.
Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one. Perhaps a parent just passed away. Perhaps you experienced a miscarriage. And there’s a deep wound in your heart. Believe me, God will not only return this person to you sevenfold, but eternal-fold. Be patient. In Heaven, you’ll be reunited with your loved one forever and ever and ever…
Learn to encourage yourself in the Lord.
May your dreams come true,