Summary: What will you do when, not if but when, the troubles come? If you do want to throw yourself a good old fashioned pity party – and I’ve met a few people who are experts – let me tell you how to do so.
How to Throw a Pity Party
1 Samuel 27:1-12; 30:1-6
When Barbara and I first came to Independence, we began our Wednesday night Bible studies with a teaching on the book of James. We figured we’d get off to a good running start on what it means to live out our Christians lives in the realness of the world we live in. I didn’t want to come to Independence with an “all life in Jesus is a journey from victory to victory with hardly a battle to be fought can you say ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘Hallelujah’” type of attitude. Besides, that is not who I am or how I teach, which, if you’ve been at Journey Church more than about fifteen minutes, you’ve figured out by now.
One of the key phrases in the book of James, if not also one of the most troublesome, is found right up front in the second verse of the very first chapter. This is where James says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials.” Well, isn’t James just a bundle of fun and warm fuzzies! Also, notice James didn’t say “if” you encounter various trials, but “when.” Trials and troubles are a guarantee. They are not negotiable. They WILL happen. And James is saying to take these trials in joy because they are going to produce in you a faith that is complete so that you will need nothing more. But the product of troubles and trials isn’t my point. My question is simple: What will you do when, not if but when, the troubles come?
As we’ve seen for the last few weeks, David has been in trouble with Saul. He’s let him out of a cave alive and even stole his spear and water while Saul slept just to prove that he is not going to harm Saul. But that doesn’t stop Saul. Now David’s life is in a pit. He was anointed to be the king of Israel but now he’s out living in the desert with a ragtag group of misfits and malcontents, running for his life. Naturally, there are always causes when we find our days going dark and our life descending into a pit of despair and depression. And I want you to beware of these things so that you can bypass them the next time life gets difficult, because it WILL get difficult. But if you do want to throw yourself a good old fashioned pity party – and I’ve met a few people who are experts – let me tell you how to do so. First you begin by . . .
1. Talking to yourself (27:1). Verse one says, “But David kept thinking to himself. . . .” That is usually the problem, isn’t it? We talk to ourselves and think to ourselves but we don’t talk to God. Or, we deceive ourselves into thinking that since we’re talking to ourselves we are actually praying. But that isn’t the case. Now, I’m not against talking to myself. I do it all the time. Sometimes I think when I talk to myself I finally have someone who is listening, but even then that isn’t always the case. However it is important that when we talk with ourselves we are telling ourselves the right things. And this is just what David didn’t do. He looked at what was going on around him and took his advice horizontally instead of vertically. You won’t find David praying even once in this chapter. He didn’t seek God until chapter 30. So the first step in throwing a pity party is to keep your conversation to yourself. The next step in throwing yourself a pity party is to—
2. Engage in negative reasoning (27:1). David started out talking to himself and what he said was quite negative. He says, “Someday Saul is going to get me.” That is about as negative and pessimistic and it gets. He says Saul “IS” going to get me. How does David know what tomorrow will bring? Didn’t Jesus say not to worry about tomorrow? Matt. 6:34 says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” No one knows about the future. And to go negative about something you really can’t predict is a simple way of lowering yourself into a pit of despair and then inviting people to join you in your misery.
One of the problems with negative thinking is we forget what God has already said to us. We forget His promises. We forget how He has already saved us from a bunch of problems. We forget that His mercies are new every morning.
David seems to have forgotten that Samuel anointed him to be king. He seems to have forgotten that Abigail, before she became David’s wife, said that the Lord would make David the leader of all Israel (1 Sam. 25:30). God spoke through Jonathan who told David he would be the next king. Even Saul said, “And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule” (1 Sam. 24:20). But David begins talking to himself and says, “I’m going to perish. Saul will kill me. I have to save myself.” We become negative and pessimistic when we keep our eyes only on our current situation and forget what God has promised. God NEVER leads us to think pessimistically. Even when bad things happen God reminds us that He can work everything out for our good according to His love for us (Rom. 8:28). The third ingredient to a successful pity party is to—