Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another. My name is Kari Bartkus, and today, we’re going to talk about a situation that happens to all of us at some point, and that is when we don’t have anyone there to encourage us or care for us.
Now, a huge point of this podcast is to make sure that no one hurts alone, right? As Michael Slater said, “To hurt is bad enough, but to hurt alone destroys people physically, mentally, and spiritually.” We want those around us to know that we love them, that we care about, that they matter. That’s why we go the extra mile and reach out. That’s why we give them a call, send them a card, drive them to their doctor’s appointment, pray for them, and on and on. We show up for them as God leads us to.
But what happens in those seasons where you feel like you don’t have anyone there for you? Or when it seems like nobody cares?
When your friends move away?
When your trust has been betrayed?
When you’ve asked for help but haven’t received it?
When you’ve asked for prayer and no one prays with you?
When you don’t even know how to express what you’re feeling inside?
What happens if you’re a ministry leader and don’t feel you can talk to others in your church?
What happens if what you’ve been through feels too shaming to share with someone else?
What happens if you’ve been pushing people away for the past few years, and now that you’re ready to let someone in, no one is left nearby to reach out to?
There are many, many scenarios where we might feel alone in our hurt and grief. And while there are some steps we can take to try to prevent those things or to heal those things, it will take time. But that is a conversation for another day.
Today, we are looking at, what do we do when we don’t have anyone there to encourage us or care for us?
There are two stories in the Bible that I want to look at today. The first is a story of David found in 1 Samuel chapter 30.
At this point in David’s life, he is running from King Saul. David has actually been living among the Philistines, and then even they reject him and ask him to leave. When David and the men traveling with him return home, they discover their town has been raided, crushed, and burned to the ground. And even worse, their women and children have been taken away, captured by the enemy.
In 1 Samuel chapter 30, starting at verse 3, it says, “When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, they wept until they could weep no more. David’s two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel, were among those captured. David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him.”
Can you even imagine? Even as David is grieving the capturing of his wives and maybe even some of his children, he is faced with the bitterness and anger of his own men who want to kill him.
How would you respond to that? It is a situation of deep despair and grief. He has no one there to comfort him or encourage him. In fact, it says that all of his men were bitter. Not one takes his side. Not one comes to his defense.
Yet the end of verse 6, it says, “But David found strength in the LORD his God.”
Now, what I find interesting is that earlier in David’s life, Jonathan had been the one to encourage and strengthen David in the Lord. In 1 Samuel 23, David received news that Saul was on the way to find him and kill him. But “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God” (verse 16). Other translations say that Jonathan strengthened David’s faith, or strengthened his hand in God.
And that word strengthen means to fortify, to be of good courage, to encourage, to mend, to repair, to withstand. It’s the same word we find in 1 Samuel 30 when David “strengthens himself in the Lord.”
Whereas Jonathan once served to encourage and strengthen his friend David in difficult times, David now has to encourage and strengthen himself… but not of his own might. He strengthens himself in the Lord. He finds strength in the Lord.
David fastened himself to God. He clings to his Lord. He sets his eyes on his King.
My friend, when you don’t have anyone there to encourage you, you can find strength and encouragement in the Lord.
For David, that meant going to the Lord and asking Him, essentially, “What do you want me to do? Do I chase after the raiders?” And God indicates yes, chase after them, and David and his men end up rescuing their families and bringing everything back. Everything.
What might it look like for you to strengthen yourself in the Lord? To set your eyes upon Him and cling to Him?
For me, that sometimes means holding tight to His Word as found in the Bible. Coming close to Him through the stories and promises He has shared in Scripture.
Sometimes it means singing a worship song—or at least listening to one—even if I’m crying as I declare my faith in Him.
Sometimes it means finding a way to laugh, even when I am hurting.
Sometimes it just means keeping eye contact with the Lord, not saying anything at all. I know God sees me, and I keep my eyes on Him. And holding that gaze with Him helps me see and experience His love for me. He gives me the comfort, the strength I need to make it through.
When David didn’t have anyone there to encourage him, he strengthened himself in the Lord. But there’s another story I want to share with you. This one is from Paul as he wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 4.
We don’t know much about what goes on, but this is what Paul shares, starting in verse 16: “The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death.”
So much like David, Paul is on his own. Everyone has abandoned him, walked the other way, left him alone in his time of need.
We know that Paul was often on trial for his faith, for preaching the Good News. His enemies would spread lies about him, claiming he was stirring up trouble. And that’s what landed him in front of judges.
Paul shares that this was the first time he was brought before the judge, so at this point, it is a new experience for him. What would he say? What would he do? How could he remain faithful and stand firm for his Lord?
And we see that though everyone else abandoned Paul, the Lord stood with him. He didn’t just stand with Paul, God gave him the strength he would need to keep proclaiming the Good News.
David strengthened himself in the Lord, and Paul receives his strength from the Lord.
Both men were abandoned. Left alone.
Except for God.
God remained faithful. Just like He does today.
Find Your Strength in the Lord
My friend, if you are finding yourself alone, abandoned, betrayed by those around you, with no one to encourage you, with no one around to show you that they care… know that the Lord is near. He stands with you in the darkest place. He will strengthen you for the task at hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Hold that verse close, my friend. Treasure it in your heart.
Even when everyone else abandons you, God is with you. He will strengthen you. He will help you. He will hold you up.
As we close, I’d like to offer you a prayer from Matthew Henry:
“When refuge fails, and no one cares for our souls, we cry to you. You are our refuge, and our portion in the land of the living. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
Amen and amen.
That is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
- 1 Samuel 30:1-6
- 1 Samuel 23:16-17
- 2 Timothy 4:16-17
- Isaiah 41:10
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