Summary: How to encourage yourself in the Lord - as David did.
Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalms 103:1-5 (NKJV)
David is speaking to his own soul. Notice the wording - He is talking to everything that is IN HIM. And he begins to speak to his inner being in the second person form. David is talking to himself. Today I want to talk to you about what God wants you to say when you talk to yourself!
I’m reminded of a time when David had made a mistake. He had led his men into battle, and left the women and children behind defenseless. When they returned, they found that their homes had been destroyed and their families carried away captive. They all wept at the tragedy. The men began to point their fingers at David…
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. 1 Sam 30:6 (KJV)
There is not a one of us that has not made some grave mistakes in our lives. We have regrets. Regrets are natural. When you think of it – regret is a very good thing. What if you did not feel regret?
It’s sort of like pain. We tend to look at pain as a negative thing. But really, it’s not. Pain is our friend. Why, you say? It is pain that tells you that something is wrong. It is pain that gets your attention, and drives you to change.
I’m reminded of my cousin, Stanley. He had a little finger that had nerve damage – and had no feeling. He challenged a guy at school to a contest. They would see who was tougher, by seeing who could handle the heat. This would be determined by both of them sticking their finger in boiling water, and seeing who can hold it the longest.
Well – Stanley won the contest. But he almost lost the finger! You see – pain is a good thing!
In 1999 Dr Paul Brand and Philip Yancey co-wrote a book called Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants. Dr Brand was born in India to missionary parents, and has spent most of his life caring for people with leprosy.
One of Dr Brand’s greatest discoveries was that people with leprosy do not have "bad flesh" that just rots away. Actually, their flesh is as healthy as yours, or mine. The problem is that blood flow is restricted to certain parts of their body, and their nerve endings die. With this death of their nerve endings comes the inability to sense danger to their bodies. Lepers live pain free.
Don’t you wish you could live pain free? Not when you realize that this absence of pain is the greatest enemy of the leper. Again and again they harm their bodies, without even knowing it. They feel no pain.
Dr Brand knew that lepers often went blind. Why? Because they didn’t blink. They didn’t blink because they didn’t feel the pain that we feel when our eyes dry out. Dr Brand solved this problem by surgically attaching the chewing muscle to their eyelid – and then teaching them to chew gum.
Dr Brand was puzzled by the fact that lepers often lost fingers and toes overnight. He knew that they weren’t simply disappearing into thin air, so he commissioned workers to observe the lepers sleeping. To the surprise of the workers, they found that rats would come in and nibble the exposed fingers and toes. The lepers, who did not feel pain, never awoke to brush away the rats.
And so – as the title of the book says, "Pain is the gift that nobody wants". And so is regret. You know what we call someone that has no regrets? We call them psychopaths! Without remorse, nothing leads them to change.
God gave us the ability to feel pain – but he had no intention of us living in it. God gave us the ability to feel remorse, or regret – but he has no intention of us living in it! Regret is the gift to our soul, just as pain is the gift to our flesh. But it is designed to serve a temporary purpose! God does not intend for us to wallow in it. He does not want us to feel it any longer than necessary to deal with the cause…