How do you react when you are grieving? Where do you turn for help? We all experience grief – but we don’t all react to it the same way. Some withdraw. Some seek help from friends. Some seek help from books. Some drown their sorrows and pain in alcohol or by taking drugs. Some lash out or try to find relief or mask over their pain in their own wrong way. They just want the pain to stop or the situation to change. Yet, when we are hurting and grieving, God tells us to seek Him.

“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. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God – 1 Sam 30:6 (ESV)

David and his men come home to Ziklag from a battle to find that the Amalekites had raided their city, burned it and taken the women and all who were in it captive. (1 Sam 30:1-2). No homes – no livestock – and their wives and kids are not only gone – but taken captive! (1 Sam 30:3). How did they react? As you’d expect they would react – with “great distress”, loud cries, screaming and weeping until they were exhausted. (1 Sam 30:4) Then as vs. 6 expresses above – they became so enraged and bitter – that they wanted to stone David, their leader! Yet, David turned to God for his encouragement, strength and guidance.

David had to be in great agony, despair and full of fear. Not only for his personal loss – because his two wives had been among those taken captive (1 Sam 30:5) – but also, I would think, because he felt guilty as the leader for not taking precautions to protect the city when they went away for battle! And now, his own men were enraged and wanted to kill him. So what does he do? He seeks God for comfort and direction. He uses the Aaronic priest using the ephod, the priestly garment, and inquired of God as to whether he should go after the raiders and if he would overtake them. God answers him – telling him yes to pursue, that he would overtake them and surely rescue. (1 Sam 30:7-9)

Just two chapters before this one – there is a contrasting story involving Saul. He too is in distress. However he handles his distress much differently than David and he has a very different outcome. 1 Sam 28:5-7 says, “When Saul sees the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’”

Saul didn’t do as God had commanded him. He didn’t obey him. Saul didn’t seek him in the manner the Torah had commanded (as David did). Therefore, God didn’t answer him. Saul then went so far as to use a medium other than God. So his fate ended in death. (see also 1 Chron 10:13-14)

Truths or things that jumped out to me after studying these passages are:

  1. Even and especially in the midst of our pain – we:
    • Can express our pain–weep, cry out–get it out of our system – that’s not wrong (1 Sam 30:4; 1 Sam 1:10)
    • Yet, don’t let that pain and anguish turn to anger that we act upon in a fit of rage or recklessly without seeking God. (As David’s men wanted to do–to stone David-1 Sam 30:6) (see also Prov 14:16)
    • You may take a course of action that seems right to you, but it may not be – in fact, its end is the way to death. (as it was for Saul-1 Sam 28:7; 1 Chron 10:13-14) (see also Prov 14:12) Seek God for guidance before acting!
    • Seek God; obey the voice of the Lord (His Word) – look to him for answers
  2. Why should we pray to God during times of distress or grief
    • Because God is looking and waiting for us – to see if we seek him (Ps 14:2)
    • For our hope (Job 13:15; Ps 25:3; Ps 42:5; Ps 119:49)
    • For our help (Ps 18:6; Ps 25:15; Ps 86:17; Ps 109:21, 26; Ps 118:13; Heb 13:6)
    • For our protection (Ps 25:20)
    • Because he hears us and saves us out of our troubles (Ps 18:6; Ps 34:6; Ps 40:1; Ps 116:1-2; Is 37:17)
    • For our vindication (Ps 26:1)
    • Because we trust him – our faith is in God (Ps 25:5; Ps 26:1; Ps 56:3, 4, 11; Ps 62:8)
    • Because he is our light and our salvation (Ps 25:5, 17; Ps 27:1; Ps 62:5; Ps 109:26-27, 31, Is 37:20)
    • To calm our fear and deliver us from our fears (Ps 27:1; Ps 34:4; Ps 56:3, 4, 11)
    • He is our strength and stronghold (Ps 9:9; Ps 27:1; Ps 46:1; Is 25:4; Jer 16:19; Joshua 1:9)
    • For our confidence (Ps 27:3)
    • To bless and praise him (Ps 34:1; Ps 109:1)
    • Because he answers us (Ps 34:4)
    • Because he is righteous and good (Ps 25:8; Ps 34:8)
    • He sets our feet upon a rock, making our steps secure (Ps 40:2)
    • He is our refuge, our shelter from the storm and shade from the heat (Ps 9:9; Ps 46:1; Ps 62:8; Ps 118:8, 9; Is 25:4; Jer 16:19)
    • He is our strong tower and safety (Prov 18:10)
    • He is alone the God of all kingdoms of the earth and creator of heaven and earth (Is 37:16)
    • For peace and rest (Matt 11:28; John 16:33; John 14:27; Phil 4:6-7)
    • For comfort, encouragement and courage (Deut 31:8; Joshua 1:9; Ps 23:4; Ps 86:17; Ps 119:50,76)
    • For compassion (Lam 3:32)
    • For direction and guidance (Ps 25:4; Ps 25:8-10,12; James 1:5; Ps 5:8; Ps 27:11; Ps 31:3; Ps 32:8-9; Ps 61:1-2; Ps 86:11; Ps 143:8; Ps 43:3; Ps 73:23-24; Ps 119:35, 105; Prov 3:5-6; Ps 139:23-24; Ps 143:10)
    • Because his love is steadfast, good and constant (Ps 109:21, 26)
    • To bring vengeance against those who have harmed us (Ps 109:6-20)
    • Because we are poor, needy and hurt (Ps 109:22)
    • So God’s deliverance can be seen (Ps 109:27)
  3. Even if God doesn’t seem to answer:
    • Don’t go to different mediums (1 Sam 28:7)
    • Wait on the Lord (Ps 27:14; Ps 37:7; Ps 40:1; Ps 123:2; Is 30:18; Jer 14:22; Ps 25:5; Ps 33:20; Ps 130:5; Micah 7:7; Is 8:17)
    • Keep praying (1 Chron 16:11; Luke 18:1-8; 1 Thes 5:17)
  4. Once God answers
    • Let others know what God has done (Ps 109:27)
    • With your mouth, give great thanks and praise to the Lord (Ps 109:30)

My Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for loving us, for hearing us, wanting us to seek you. Help me Lord to do so more diligently. Lord, you know my hurt today – why grief was on my mind. It’s just a difficult time. It must be for a lot of people. Yes, I grieve because I so miss mom. And I think of her often – especially around special occasions, such as her birthday. I do ask for your healing hand on my heart. I do struggle with her not here. I know there is so much more to this world than how things used to be when all our loved ones were here. But it just seems so hard for me to move forward at times. So, I do need your peace, your strength, your comfort and encouragement. I’m tired of hearing my thoughts – which don’t bring those qualities. They just remind me of the past.

And, it’s not just mom that comes to mind right now. You know a precious friend in Fort Worth died from her battle with cancer last week too. I know both she and my mom are in a much better place and are better off now. It’s just so difficult in our finite minds to think of life without those we love here on earth. Finally, and why this verse really touched my heart today – suicide. This one really hurts. Someone I got to know a few years ago – during my time of going out for weekly dinners with mom and dad – committed suicide a few days ago. How she must have been hurting to come to that decision. And even worse, I don’t know if she knew you, Lord. That’s what really hurts. I tried sharing my faith with her at that time – she just wasn’t ready.

I haven’t talked to her in a long time. Too long. Why didn’t I reach out? Gut-wrenching. Please be with her family and friends. I’ve seen a few posted notes on-line that say she has finally found peace now. But, has she? She obviously was struggling! Oh Lord, I hope she has found peace – but I’m so afraid she hasn’t! Please help me – and all of us – to be more aware of those around us and who we need to reach out to….

Lord, thank you that you are here for us. That you DO hear us. That you not only hear us – but you are looking down and waiting to see who is seeking you! Thank you that you do want to help us, to comfort us, to give us encouragement, support, hope, protection, safety, strength, refuge, vindication, light, peace, rest, courage, compassion, love, direction, guidance and our salvation most of all. Thank you that your love is constant, steadfast and good. I pray you help me to turn to you at all times – but especially when I’m in distress or grief and it’s easy to turn to other sources. Please give me the strength to wait on you – because you are faithful and trustworthy! Give me the perseverance to keep praying for unanswered prayers and the heart to pray for your desires, not mine – and to know the difference. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.