Staying the Course When Things Get Difficult

Lately it’s been a difficult season for me emotionally. I’ve been battling with a lot of anxiety about the future and a lot of discontentment in the present. To be direct, I feel like the work that I commit 40 hours a week to really doesn’t mean anything.

I’m a petroleum engineer, so in a nutshell, I have to make sure that oil and gas is being produced from our wells at the expected rates. That being said, I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the fact that when I die, no one is going to care about how much oil and gas my wells produced.

Deep down, I want to do something that will have value beyond my years. I want to do something that will impact lives and propel people to new heights. Now, I realize that all this is exposing a lot of selfishness and pride in my life - that I want to do something that I’ll be remembered for - but I’m simply being transparent.

Now, couple this current discontentment with the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has absolutely wreaked havoc on the oil and gas industry, along with many others. Anyone who either works in the industry or knows someone who works in the industry, knows that when oil prices slump, companies start to lay off employees. This has quickly become a very stark reality for me and my wife, Hannah, that my job security is in the balance. Needless to say, it’s been difficult to be content in this season and not wish that God would simply place Hannah and I in a more stable situation. 

It’s funny how God can connect the dots between our lives and His divine Word. A couple months ago I thought I was just reading 1 Samuel for the sake of reading 1 Samuel. I wanted to read and I wanted to understand it at a deeper level than I had in the past so I decided to go ahead and move through the book not knowing how much it would speak to me during this current season. 

In 1 Samuel 16, we first read about how God moves through Samuel to anoint David as king over Israel. But the thing is, David doesn’t become king of Israel at that moment. In fact, in 2 Samuel 5:4 we’re told that David was 30 years old when he finally began to reign as king of Israel. Many scholars and historians believe that this was anywhere between 15 to 22 years after he was anointed by God, through Samuel. I can only speculate that at times, those 15 to 22 years felt quite exhausting as David patiently waited for God’s promise to be fulfilled. 

Continuing throughout the course of 1 Samuel there are two specific instances that really stood out to me and convicted me. These instances can be found in 1 Samuel 24 and 26. In both of these instances, David has a very opportunity to kill the current king of Israel, Saul. Funny enough, during these passages, Saul is actually in the process of pursuing to kill David, due to some intense jealousy. Even with these circumstances and even with some EASY opportunities to kill Saul and claim the throne that God has set aside for him, David refused to take advantage of these situations despite encouragement from his men and even his nephew. Take a look at his reasoning in both chapter 24 and 26: 

“He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord's anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul.” (1 Samuel 24: 6-7)
“But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?” And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord's anointed. (1 Samuel 26: 9-11)

It’s unbelievably clear from these responses that David understood who God is and while his men, his friends, and even his family were pushing him to go and get what was rightfully his, he was humble, he was patient, and he was faithful to the God who had made him a promise. 

I also can’t help but believe that David had, at least at this point in his life, a keen understanding of what the Apostle Paul would later write in Philippians 4:11: 

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Contentment is something that is learned, my friends. Fight for it. I believe that a right understanding of God and His never ending faithfulness, through all of the ages, will lead to contentment. I believe that it will foster inside of us a realization that earthly circumstances are simply vanity and that we can find contentment in the fact that we will soon be in paradise, with our King. At Humbled Daily, the verse that we’ve clung to since the very day we started is 1 Peter 5:6:

“Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand and He will exalt you in due time.” 

David was simply humble. He knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God had promised him the throne. It would have been so easy, at least from my perspective, for David to kill Saul and justify the deed by taking God’s anointing out of context. But David understood that it was God’s responsibility to be God and that in due time the promise would be fulfilled. 

Pertaining to 1 Peter 5:6, I’ve heard a take on that verse that really resonated with me. They talked about how the “due time” mentioned in this verse may not even be a time on this earth in some of our lives. That the “exalting” that takes place, would be the moment that this life full of earthly desires fades and we get to go home. This take was hard to stomach at first, but I really love it now. I’d encourage you to ask yourself the question - if the only exaltation I receive is my arrival in Heaven, will that be enough? Although it’s not always easy amidst my fleshly desires, I’m beginning to believe that it will be enough. If you’re already there, praise God. If not, I pray that being lifted up to Heaven would be the only exaltation you ever really need. 

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