-Written by Katy Key (with assistance from Stan)-
Last November, I gave a Bible study for a group of 35 people entitled “The Worst Day of David’s Life.” Based on I Samuel 30, my study examined what happened to David and his soldiers at Ziklag when their city was destroyed and their wives and children kidnapped. On that terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, David lost everything! The situation was so bad that David’s own men wanted to stone him!
Though David’s life journey was composed of many bad days, this was by far the worst! My Bible study was mainly theoretical. Though I tried to make it personal, I knew that nothing in my life came close to resembling David’s disastrous day. Little did I know that, in the providence of God, my teaching had a prophetic element! Three weeks after my Bible study, I experienced the worst day of my life on December 14, 2015 when I suffered a terrible stroke that robbed me of health and dramatically changed my life and the lives of my family. Oh how often the words I spoke in that study rattled around in my mind these past six months as I lay paralyzed in bed trying to make sense of what had happened.
Two weeks ago I was invited to share a word of witness with missionary leaders during a retreat weekend at which Stan was speaking. At first, I protested. I wasn’t ready to speak in public from a wheelchair! And my thoughts were muddled, I had nothing to say. But dutifully I paused to ask God what he thought about this crazy invitation. Surprisingly, His response was quite clear: “Share with them the same Bible study you gave last November, the one about the worst day of David’s life.”
So I did.
David’s “worst day” experience has become for me a type of filter through which I am interpreting my own “worst day” experience. The fact that these two Bible study presentations punctuate my journey both at the beginning and now, six months down the road, only enhances my desire to make David’s lessons my own. In an effort to personalize and apply the truth of Scripture, I thought I would share this Bible study with you¹.
What did David do on the worst day of his life?
I. He wept (I Sam. 30:4). He and those who were with him “raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.” Rather than stuffing his emotions, he expressed them. David had emotional integrity. He didn’t deny his agony nor did he pretend to be strong. David simply poured out his heartache to His Heavenly Father. Tears may not change our circumstances but they do help us move through our circumstances. They are a gift from God to cleanse and comfort.
II. He refused to get bitter (I Sam. 30:6). Though the people with him were “bitter in soul”, David refused to permit the cancer of bitterness to take up residence in his heart. Everyone else was looking for someone to blame but David refused this path as well. David was “greatly distressed” to be sure, but with God’s help he found strength to keep the bitter experiences on the outside from becoming a root of bitterness on the inside. I have realized that it is hard to get bitter in spirit when you turn your gaze outward to the suffering of others and upward to a compassionate and loving Father. If I focus more on Who He is rather than Why He has allowed this or that in my life, then I am less likely to be embittered by trials and troubles. I may never understand why but through these sufferings, I can know Him more!
III. He “strengthened himself in the Lord” (I Sam. 30:6). When all seemed hopeless and no one could help, David found a quiet place to get alone with God. Rather than blaming God, he found strength in God. Rather than focusing on his problems, David focused on the only One who could help! He chose to believe in God and His promises even when nothing in life made sense. In my own endless need for strength, I realize that it’s not only about understanding where my strength comes from, the One who made Heaven and earth(Ps 121:1,2), but understanding that I have no strength apart from Him (John 15:5). Paul reminds us that His strength is made perfect in our ‘strengthless-ness’ (2 Cor. 12:9). Acknowledging where true strength comes from helps me look and lean on Him for everything I face.
IV. He “inquired of the Lord” (I Sam. 30:7-8). Rather than trying to come up with his own plan and relying on some man-made solution, David sought direction from God. Show me your way, O Lord! David inquired of the Lord in the midst of his pain. It’s difficult to see clearly when you’re in pain and yet pivotal decisions have to be made. For us, as we look back we can see His provision and direction at each point of the journey when a decision was needed. We can easily trace His path through the darkness as He led time and time again to provide the best care for what I needed when I needed it. We were clueless! Yet while we were clueless, He was not! He knew what was best and led us in it.
V. He got up and moved forward (I Sam. 30:9). Rather than groveling in the paralysis of self-pity, David did the most courageous thing anyone can do who has lost everything: he got up! Then he simply took the next step. For me, I continue to take the next step and then the next step in this journey by His grace and strength! This week marked a new step as we started outpatient therapy. We continue to trust the lord for more independence and mobility as we continue to move forward.
Perhaps you think that I am sharing this Bible study because I think that you need to hear it. No! I’m sharing this Bible study because I need to hear it! In fact, I’m sharing it in the hopes that I will be wise enough to listen to my own sermon!
¹The original inspiration for this study as well as key points in the outline come from a book written by Brian Zahnd entitled What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life (Christian Life, Lake Mary, FL, 2009).