2 Samuel 12:16-23
When Your World Falls Apart
Woodlawn Baptist Church
September 10, 2006
Read 2 Samuel 12:16-23.
We can only imagine what a terrible low point this must have been in David’s life. During the course of the previous year, King David has been involved in an adulterous affair, had the husband of the woman murdered, brought the pregnant Bathsheba into his own home, adding her to a growing list of wives. He has suffered the chastisement of Nathan the prophet and has been warned that not only would the sword never depart from his family; verse 14 records Nathan’s prophesy that this child would die. David is a man who has been brought low through guilt, shame and godly rebuke. Imagine knowing that the child he has brought into the world would never live and having to live with that weight. You may never experience the tragedies of David’s life, but we all experience times in our lives when it seems our world is falling apart.
A few years ago Kathy and I were struggling to make ends meet. We had a preschooler and a toddler, and the Christian school for which I was working was barely paying me. I was throwing papers in the morning, and summer was approaching, so we had the hope that my two incomes plus a summer job would get us caught up. However, just as school was about to let out I learned that they weren’t going to be able to pay me for the summer – and our world took a nosedive. We lost our van, ruined our credit, scraped by and wondered why God would allow it all to happen. After all, I was serving Him like mad and sacrificing my future in His service.
Mom works with a man here in town who in one year experience the death of his mother and the death of his four-year old daughter, only then to have his wife divorce him. Even as I tell these stories you can probably think of others, maybe even your own.
Life is filled with terribly trying times: financial, marital, health, work, family and friends to name a few. But what do we do? We can’t prevent the trials of life, but when it seems your world is falling apart there is something you can do. In fact, no matter what the circumstances, I want to give you seven parts of your response to God when your world falls apart around you. We’re not going to have time for all seven of them today, so I’m going to make this a two part message that I’ll finish next Sunday.
So often when everything goes awry the first thing we do is panic, get frantic, start worrying, fretting and making ourselves sick, but David gives us an example to follow. When the Lord struck the child with illness David turned to the Lord. Rather than losing his head, he remembered God.
There are two things you need to remember. First, when your world falls apart, you need to remember that it’s not your world. We know the Scripture says that “the earth is the Lord’s…” but we fail to remember that this means the good and the bad. When Job’s world fell apart, he kept things in their right perspective. He said in Job 1:21 & 2:10,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb. And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord…Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”
So remember that your world isn’t your world at all – it is God’s, and as such we must be willing to accept whatever comes our way.
Second, remember that your life is not your own. We might acknowledge that the world belongs to God, but we still feel a certain amount of injustice when the world falls apart around us. Somehow we feel slighted, or like God let us down. What we’re really claiming is that we have the right to certain things and the right not to experience certain things. But our lives belong to God. If you’re a child of God “you were bought with a price.” Your life doesn’t belong to you any more!
A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain. Part of the cost of discipleship is a daily dying, and perhaps the primary way God works to kill the old natural man in us is to drag him through the white-hot fires of trouble and difficulty. I don’t like it – I can kick against the goads so to speak, but in the end I must remember that my world and even my very life belong to the Lord God above.
Verse 16 says that David pleaded with God for the child. In fact, he pleaded with God in prayer for seven days. The KJV says that he besought the Lord, but the word there means that he pleaded and begged for the boy’s life. This may seem like a foolish prayer after Nathan told David that the boy would surely die, but David begged anyway. But should it really seem so foolish that David would pray in such a time? After all, didn’t Jesus pray in the garden the night before He was crucified? Even knowing the Father’s will He prayed that if there was another way to let Him know.
I like what the writer E.M. Bounds had to say about prayer.
“Trouble and prayer are closely related to each other. Prayer is of great value to trouble. Trouble often drives people to God in prayer, while prayer is but the voice of people in trouble…Prayer often delivers out of trouble, and even more so gives strength to bear trouble, ministers comfort in trouble, and produces patience in the midst of trouble. Wise are they in the day of trouble who know their true source of strength and do not fail to pray.”
Listen to me: when your life crashes on the rocks of trouble and your world seems to be falling apart, it is good and well to tell your problems to others and seek wise counsel, but you’d be far better off begging and pleading with God about the matter. Beg Him to change His mind if you must, but an even better prayer would be to plead for His presence and strength and to teach you something in your time of trouble. When your world falls apart the last thing you’ll want to do is pray, but pray you must – there is nothing like trouble and prayer to remind you of just how powerless you are and how powerful He is.
How bothered are you when things go bad? David didn’t just pray for seven days; verse 16 says “David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.” Verse 17 says “he would not raise up, nor did he eat food with them.”
I know it’s not popular to talk about fasting, but you cannot deny or ignore the fact that from Genesis to Revelation when people went through hell in their lives they fasted as they prayed. You see, fasting is rooted in an expression of sorrow. Whenever you find fasting in the Old Testament, most often you find the people tearing their clothes, putting ashes on their heads and wearing sackcloth. These were outward signs that the person fasting felt as if his heart had been torn from his body, just as his clothes were torn.
But sorrow isn’t the only thing that fasting expresses. It also expresses gravity about our situation. It expresses to God that whatever we’re going through is so terrible or so heavy or such a burden that we have lost our appetite for physical nourishment and have replaced it with the need to seek God’s face.
I know that most of you will dismiss what I’m telling you about fasting. Of all the seven things I’m going to give you, this one will seem most optional, but it’s not. Are you serious or not? Are you filled with sorrow or not? Is your world falling apart or not? Then fast as you plead with God in prayer. Put your money where your mouth is so to speak. And for those of you who claim health exemptions, find a way to fast – and if you still don’t believe you can do it, come see me – I’ve got good news for you!
As I said at the beginning of the message, I cannot begin to imagine the load of guilt and shame and sorrow that David carried during those seven days of prayer and fasting. David told his servants in verse 22 that he had pled with the Lord for some specific things, but we can be safe in supposing that during those seven days there was plenty of soul-searching going on as well.
When your life falls apart, when troubles come that won’t seem to go away, when sorrow and grief are your constant companions, take advantage of the opportunity to do some soul searching of your own. Take the time to do a self-examination and ask yourself four questions:
Is my relationship with God right? David was confident of his relationship with God. He said in verse 22 that the child would not return to him, but one day when he died he would go to be with the child. How could he say that? He could say it because he had put his faith in God’s Messiah who would come.
Can you also make that claim? That no matter how bad things get here in this life, that you have the hope of eternal life with God? Can you offer the testimony of pitiful Job? He said,
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself…”
Even if you could go through this life trouble free, what would it matter if it ended in hell? God may allow trouble in your life to bring you to your knees. It may be His servant to show you your need of a Savior. Examine your heart and make sure your relationship with God is right.
Is there sin in my life that needs to be dealt with? You all know about the Law of the Harvest, but do you really believe that it can happen to you? If you sow sin, the wages of that sin will always be death – separation from God. James described the process as childbirth. “When sin is full-grown it brings forth death.”
David’s trouble was the result of his own sin. Is yours? Examine your life! Be honest before God! If sin is present repent of it and make it right!
What is God trying to teach me in this trial? David had a problem thinking that he was in control. He got whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. He found out all too quickly just how powerless he was. It was a lesson learned the hard way – but it was a lesson he needed to learn.
What about you? What is God trying to teach you? Humility? Trust? That you need to be better communicators at home? That you need to live within your means? That you need to get your house in order? I don’t know what it is, but God does. As you fast and pray and examine your life ask God to show you – to teach you what it is He has for you. And then lastly,
What are others learning about God by my testimony in this trial? All too often we forget about this. We fly off the handle, start missing work, lose our tempers, go get drunk, start missing church or say any number of damaging things and ruin our opportunities to witness to those around us.
For example, suppose your world just fell apart. Something terrible happens at your home and you begin fretting and worrying and making yourself sick over it. You talk about how you don’t know how you’ll get through. You’re making calls and planning and scheming trying to keep your head out of water. Then, when things settle down, you want to lecture your coworkers about how your faith gets you through tough times. Do what?
I don’t care what the trial is – use it to examine your life. Use it to ask yourself the hard questions, and use it as an opportunity to draw nearer to God.
Several years ago Reader’s Digest told the story about a man who awoke one morning to find a puddle of water in the middle of his king-size waterbed. In order to fix the puncture, he rolled the heavy mattress outdoors and filled it with more water so he could locate the leak more easily. The enormous bag of water was impossible to control and began rolling on the hilly terrain. He tried to hold it back, but it headed downhill and landed in a clump of bushes, which poked it full of holes.
Disgusted, the man threw out the waterbed frame and moved a standard bed into his room. The next morning, he awoke to find a puddle of water in the middle of the new bed. The upstairs bathroom had a leaky drain!
It is not always so obvious to us why we go through great times of difficulty. If there was a blessing in David’s situation, at least he knew exactly what was happening and why it was happening. But that’s the exception. More often than not we wake up and realize there’s water in the bed, and before we stop to think we start to act and just make it worse. God’s message to you today is simply this: when your world seems to be falling apart, look up first.
Remember that we live in His world. He is not some grandfatherly spectator in our world whose job is to cheer us on and make us feel better. We live in His world and we all belong to Him. Remember that. As you look up, communicate your earnest desire for Him to meet you in your troubles through fasting and prayer, and while you wait on Him search your heart; ask yourself the hard questions. God will meet you there.
Someone has given some good advice. “Never attempt to bear more than one kind of trouble at once. Some people bear three kinds--all they have had, all they have now and all they expect to have.” But God doesn’t operate that way. He wants to meet you right where you are today. Are you drowning in your troubles today? Is your world falling apart? Come, and take refuge in Him.