Alone in a Cave

One of the Openings to the Cave of Adullam

One of the Openings to the Cave of Adullam

Dealing with life at its darkest and most difficult times

If People Magazine had been around in ancient Israel, for months the cover would have featured the face of David, the giant-slayer.  Young women sang about the handsome, national hero.  David was the man women adored and men admired.

God had already chosen David to follow Saul as the next King of Israel. David must have thought this fame and notoriety was all part of the plan.  It all looked so perfect. God was doing something incredible!

But a few spears aimed at David by a jealous King Saul seemed to change everything! Saul’s jealous rage caused him to become obsessed with destroying David.  We learn in 1 Samuel 21 that David even fled to his enemies for help. He turned up in Goliath’s hometown of Gath – the capital of the Philistines.

After asking to see Achish, the Philistine King, David realized this was a bad idea. So, he presented himself to Achish and he pretended to be insane, even drooling in his beard. Achish sent the supposed madman packing.

According to the opening sentence of 1 Samuel 22, “David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam.” Scholars believe David spent three to six months living in the muddy, dark, lonely cave. We pick up the story there with David sitting defeated — his own drool dried up in his beard. What a low point!

Most of us come to a cold, dark cave experience. We find ourselves alone, facing the shattered dreams, inexplicable pain, and desperate grief that life sometimes deals. Cold, dark, difficult caves, indeed!

David’s experience in the cave teaches us about handling life at its darkest and most difficult times. David wrote several Psalms during his months alone in the cave. Let’s look at three keys to handling a cold, dark cave experience. 

#1: Tell God How You Feel (Psalm 142)

Read Psalm 142 and you will sense the overwhelming emotions David experienced after he arrived in the Cave of Adullam. While there are hints of determination and even worship of God, the predominant mood is one of deep discouragement.

Early in his time in the cave, he learns the importance of simply telling God how he feels.  Notice his dejected phrases:

  • “Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need” (v. 6)
  • “No one is concerned for me” (v. 4)
  • “No one cares for my soul” (v. 4)
  • “Set me free from prison.” (v. 7)

Ever been there? Have you ever been so low that you felt like no one cared and despair wrapped its tentacles around you?

Some think it is wrong to tell God how badly life stinks. They think that being grateful means you never express your pain and emotions to God.  But, for David, telling God how bad he felt, with a raw honesty, was key to the process of experiencing God in a cold, lonely cave.  Whatever you are going through today, no matter how dark and difficult, tell God how you feel. 

#2: Praise God for Who He is (Psalm 57)

As you read through the second Psalm David wrote while in the cave of Adullam, you sense a subtle shift in tone.  Many people discover the value of telling God how they feel when they are stuck in a cave experience.  But too few turn the corner to praise God even in the cave.

David declares, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (57:5). Boldly he commits to God, “I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples” (57:9).

Proactive praise does something transformative in us. When we choose to praise God based on Who He is, instead of what our circumstances are, good things happen.  We see the eternal God in Whom we have put our trust.

True worship is not based on what our circumstances are but on Who our God is! Our circumstances will change, but our God never changes. 

#3: Serve God by Helping others (Psalm 34)

God does a work in David’s heart at one of the lowest points in David’s entire life. God listens as David tells God how he feels. He refocuses David’s heart as David chooses to praise his God for Who He is. Back in 1 Samuel 22 we learn that some of David’s friends and relatives choose to join David in the cave. Samuel tells us that “all those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him there” (1 Samuel 22:2). Few of us want people with problems showing up while we are still dealing with our own issues. But God knew what David needed next.

The most practical way we serve God is by helping others. David did that.

God expects us to use our dark, difficult experiences to help others. We may not even be fully free from the cave when He brings a bunch of broken people to our doorstep.  So, look around. Maybe God has planted some hurting people near your cave. You don’t have to have it all together for God to use you. 

Maybe you are at one of the lowest points of your life… a dark cave with spit on your face.  Learn from David.

Tell God how you feel, praise God for Who He is, and serve God by helping others. Watch what God does to transform you and use you to impact others!

“Blessings” by Laura Story

blessingsThis is the song I read at the end of my message today. In this post, you will find a video with the lyrics of the song, a video with the story behind the song, and at the bottom of the post you will find the lyrics themselves. What a great story that God used to give us this great song!

 

 

 

 

 

“Blessings” – by Laura Story (with Lyrics)

 

“Blessings” – The story behind the song

 

The Lyrics to “Blessings”

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/laura-story/blessings-lyrics/#AgSzUCCw2crGiAEa.99

The Suffering Heart – Sermon Outline & Resources

005aHere is the basic outline for today’s message at Calvary. Below the outline are some resources to help you in your journey of suffering.

 

 

The Suffering Heart

The Book of Job

Part 4 in the series: “Change of Heart”

Pastor Shawn Thornton – January 25, 2015

 

Suffering should prompt us to trust God more – not less.

5 Sources of Suffering:

#1: The reality of living in a broken world (Romans 8:20-22)

#2: The foolish or sinful choices of others (Joshua 7:5-11)

#3: Our own foolish or sinful choices (Isaiah 64:6)

#4: Satanic attack (1 Peter 5:8)

#5: The plan of God (Romans 9:20-23)

When you suffer:

#1: Make worship your first response (Job 1:20-22)

#2: Tell God how you feel (Job 13:23-24)

#3: Surround yourself with the right people (Job 2:11-13)

       When others suffer:

#1: Be there for them (even in silence)

#2: Avoid simplistic theological answers

#3: Point to the supremacy and sovereignty of God

#4: Do not attempt to answer “Why?” definitively

#5: Help them see their suffering as “Father-filtered”

#6: Encourage them to trust God more

#4: View your suffering in light of all eternity (Job 19:25-27)

#5: Remember that ultimately God knows “why?” (Job 42:1-3)

#6: Look for areas in your life God wants to grow you (Job 42:4-6)

#7: Submit to the supremacy and sovereignty of God (Job 40:1-5)

When you suffer, do you trust God more?

 

 

Resources on Suffering:

Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller (Book)

Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Ravi Zacharias & Vince Vitale (Book)

Video with Song Lyrics for Laura Story’s “Blessings” (Youtube)

Ten Reasons to Believe in a God Who Allows Suffering (online PDF Booklet)