2020 has been a year for the books, and these uncertain times may have you worried.
Yet, even when life gets difficult or shaky—God is unmoved.
“It’s been an unusual year,” Will Graham recently told visitors at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. “But it’s been one of the greatest years of ministry that we’ve ever seen.
“That’s what God does. He never disappoints. God always has a plan.”
Graham, executive director of The Cove, recently held an in-person and virtual conference on faith, pulling from 1 and 2 Samuel. He’s been studying those books of the Bible in his personal time and with Cove staff for about eight years.
Graham believes these lessons from the life of David speak to the needs of people around the world today:
Lesson 1: Get back to God
“David was a wanted man … a hunted man,” Graham said. “His own father-in-law hates him. … And of all the places, he’s living in the wilderness.
“I can only imagine his faith being shaken.”
Yet, God continued to show up in David’s life. And through the Lord’s faithfulness, David’s own faith was renewed and his heart restored.
When doubt and fear creep in, making this turn back to God is key.
“Sometimes we fail to connect the promises of God with our reality. And when we’re in unstable times, that shakiness in our lives causes us to fail to connect the dots,” Graham said.
“But God is on our side. He fights our battles for us. All the angels, all the hosts of heaven fight our battles for us.”
Lesson 2: Open your eyes to divine appointments
When David was at his lowest, he started to seek revenge. He allowed the actions of those who wronged him to harden his heart.
Graham explains: “David put his faith in his sword instead of God. Things had rocked his world. … He didn’t wait on God. He said, ‘God, I’m going to take care of this myself.'”
When situations don’t go the way we expect, it can be easy to respond like David, wanting to take matters into our own hands.
But as Graham put it, God will often send someone to stop us from making “stupid mistakes.” For David, this was Abigail, the wife of his enemy, Nabal. Thankfully, David listened. And it’s a reminder that when God sends wise counsel, it’s best we do the same.
And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand!” —1 Samuel 25:32-33 (ESV)
Lesson 3: Fear leads to disobedience
Though fear is a natural response in hard times, we can’t allow fear to “run rampant” in our life, Graham warns.
“It’s in times like this that we can identify with David. Even the mightiest men have their moments of weakness,” Graham said.
“[But] when you don’t live by faith, fear is going to grab your heart. And when you have fear in your heart … you start to disobey God.”
This is proven through the stark contrast we see in 1 Samuel between Saul, the current king, and David, the future king.
Both were chosen by God. Both experienced fear. But David chose to soften his heart, while Saul did not.
“Saul’s disobedience would lead him down a path that he never came back from,” Graham said.
Lesson 4: There’s a Savior for the sin we see
Whether it’s your own actions that have you weary or the circumstances around you—steady faith is possible.
“If we’re going to live in troubling times, unstable times like we’re seeing today, then [we need to] understand our place in this world,” Graham said.
“We are created beings by God. [But] we are not God. … We’re sinful, rebellious—yet whom God loves.
“If we’re going to live in this modern world, we need to have a faith that understands [this] position.”
It’s only then that we begin to see our need for God and how fear and disobedience keep us from Him.
“That’s what I love about the Bible. It doesn’t hide sin. It doesn’t misrepresent sin. It shows it for what it is.
“Sin is a destroyer. But the Bible also gives us the answer and that’s the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.”