It is easy to sink so low in spirit that we wonder if we can ever recover what we’ve lost. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, or disobeyed God, forgotten to act like God’s promise is faithfully true, or done something pretty stupid that sent us veering off track. We feel the pain of parenting failures, mistakes at work or ministry lapses or marital unfaithfulness. We’ve sunk down into worthlessness and hopelessness through choices, words spoken, needs unmet or life circumstances. We’ve lost what was valuable to us at one time. Marriage. Ministry. Children. Job. A sense of personal worth.
Is it all lost for good? Should we hope at all for restoration? How is it possible?
David, the man after God’s own heart, demonstrates through a lapse of his own.
David forgot what God said
David forgot how God had always taken care of him, forgot how God had exalted him and that he was anointed to be king. God would not fail to deliver on that. But David forgot. He advised himself rather than talking to God.
1 David said to himself, “One of these days Saul will sweep me away. The best thing for me to do is to make sure that I escape to Philistine territory. Then Saul will give up looking all over Israel for me, and I’ll escape from him.” 1 Samuel 27:1 (GW)
David did go to the Philistine territory and eventually settled in Ziklag. He convinced Achish, the son of a territorial king, that he would be a loyal follower. David fought skirmishes with peoples in the neighborhood, including the Amalekites, until one day when Achish prepared to go to war. David intended to go with Achish and the troops to war against Israel. However, the troops questioned David’s loyalty and refused to take him along.
David and his men headed for home.
Home is gone
David and the men traveled by foot for two to three days to reach home, only to find a devastating surprise waiting them. The Amalekites had exacted serious revenge for David’s attack on them.
1 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and all who were in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. 3 When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 1 Samuel 30:1-3 (NIV)
While they had been away, the Amalekites attacked Ziklag, burning it to the ground and taking wives, children and all they owned as plunder of war. The troops were bitterly angry and threatened to stone David.
It looked like a major leadership failure. David’s plan to escape to Philistine territory and raid neighbors there to provide for his men didn’t work out so well. Now what?
6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. 8 and David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.” 1 Samuel 30:6, 8 (NIV)
David found strength in the LORD his God. Finally, he remembered to turn back to God for encouragement and help. Notice there is no condemnation from God for his earlier failure. God simply gave him direction and assured him of victory.
An unnamed Egyptian
David and the men found an Egyptian wandering around and asked him who he was and where he was from. Amazingly, he was the slave of one of the Amalekite warriors and could take David and his men to the Amalekites.
11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat 16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 1 Samuel 30:11, 16-18 (NIV)
All is recovered
David and the men found the Amalekites feasting and celebrating their great victory and all that they had taken. But the party would be short-lived because David and his men fought them for 24 hours or so, and completely defeated them. Only 400 Amalekites escaped. David recovered everything taken, including the wives and children.
Restoration is possible for us
The Amalekites were known for capturing stragglers, the weak or unprotected. They represent worthlessness trying to gain the upper hand in our thinking. They gain the victory in our lives when we look at our past and conclude we are worthless and hopeless.
What does David demonstrate for us?
First, never give up hope. Even though David had made mistakes in thinking for himself and aligning with Philistines, he turned back to God and found strength and encouragement in God again. God is always passionate about our future, the wonderful future He designed for us. He is always waiting, eager to restore it for us.
Second, turn to God and ask for help. He will never condemn and accuse when you do. He is eager to restore the relationship He desires to have with us, whether or not we’ve ever had a relationship with Him.
Third, God can use anything to help us find our way back.
Fourth, trust that we can recover what was lost. That is one of God’s principles because Christ’s death and resurrection destroyed Satan’s work, rendering it ineffective. If we can believe that is true, then the losses have no effect on us and we can recover. (photo by Carol Boggess)
Fifth, know that restoration is a journey or a process. David’s wives and children were undoubtedly traumatized but not lost for good. David is still not the king. God is faithful to complete the process, to do all He has said He wants to do in and for us.
Sixth, go after the victory. Worthlessness and hopelessness do not have to win in our lives. David and his men fought a long, hard battle for restoration. But they did win. So will we. When we get discouraged, let’s remember to keep going forward. Restoration and victory will be worth it all.
God gave His only son as a sacrifice so we could have restoration and victory; He is not going to give up on us.
What will Jesus do for you?
Peter was asked to come and explain the Gospel good news to some Gentiles. Peter, a Jew, had considered Gentiles to be unbelievers who were unclean and therefore unworthy of what Jesus had done. God had to clearly explain to him how wrong that was. Then Peter went to share the good news with them. I especially love one sentence in his explanation.
38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 (NASB)
Allow me to share two paragraphs from my latest book, God Heals Broken Hearts. Please note these paragraphs are copyrighted. The footnotes from the book are omitted for brevity sake.
“Jesus came to confer all the benefits in Psalm 103:2-5 via His sacrifice on the cross. These benefits are included in God’s covenant promises as part of our salvation. But Jesus knew Satan would oppress and tyrannize us in our thoughts and emotions because he is a traducer. 24 A traducer is one who “exposes to shame or blame by means of falsehood and misrepresentation.” 25 He uses complete lies, and twists and misinterprets events or actions or thoughts to keep us in shame or blaming ourselves. Satan wants us to continue believing we have no value.
Jesus knew that first our wounds must be healed. Because God is so crazy in love with us, Jesus was anointed to heal every aspect of our brokenness so we can apply the benefits of our salvation in our daily lives.”
The final answer
Can what we lost be restored? Yes, what we’ve lost can be restored!
Carol Boggess, author and speaker
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts