We all find ourselves in that dark place from time to time, those brief chapters in our lives when we find our hands weakened, our physical strength depleted, and our spiritual focus blurred. We have all walked those valley experiences, periods of time when we feel alone in our suffering, when we are physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, when we are so immersed in our trial that we lose track of God’s hand in our life. I have found from my own personal experience that it is in those moments that God is faithful to send someone to the dark woods to encourage me.
The quintessential Bible hero, David, found himself in the lonely woods of despair and hopelessness. This giant-slaying man of God was on the run, on the first leg of a journey that would span nearly a decade and cover hundreds of miles. This king-elect was engaged in a deadly game of hide-and-seek, hunted by Saul, the king-rejected, pursued relentlessly through Nob…to Gath…to Adullum…to the wilderness of Ziph, where he found himself “in a wood.” God’s faithful servant was spent, discouraged, and weak, so God, in a display of grace, sent young Jonathan “to David in the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.” The shepherd-king found his strength renewed through the well-placed words of a dear friend.
Oh, those rare Jonathans, those who grieve when you grieve, rejoice when you rejoice, bleed when you are wounded, those God-appointed comforters who can listen without lecturing, comfort without condemning, encourage without criticizing, those dear soldiers of the cross who respond to the whisper of God and find gracious ways to refocus and recharge a discouraged brother.
I have had that Jonathan experience this week. As I came to the end of myself after days of enduring a draining illness, my Father reached into the depths of His love and whispered my name into the ears of His children. Containers of soup and baskets of fruit found their way to my doorstep, notes popped up in my inbox, texts dripping with concern and well wishes were received, phone calls filled my voicemail, prayers were offered on my behalf, and I too, was strengthened in the Lord. I felt the hand of my Father, lifting my heavy arm arms and focusing my eyes back upon Him, all through the actions of spirit-led believers who were responsive to His whisper.
Lord, give me the heart of a Jonathan. Use me to encourage and to uplift those you place upon my heart on a daily basis, those who are depleted and discouraged, those who no longer have the strength for the battle, those who need to hear the whisper of God in the dark woods.
I Samuel 23:16 And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
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