Church of the Resurrection - Washington, DC » Devotionals » Why Has God Wrecked My Perfect Life?
Why Has God Wrecked My Perfect Life?

By Aaron Damiani. This is part of a series of posts on 1 Samuel, supplementing messages in our preaching series this fall. In this post we consider 1 Samuel 21-22.

Some of us have memory of a better time.  Perhaps you can recall a season of your life when all seemed to be right, especially compared with your present circumstances.

Your idea of “the glory days” is probably different from mine, but it might include the innocence and promise of youth, professional success, satisfying relationships, familiarity with your surroundings, an exciting romance, good health, a steady income, and a sense of meaning and purpose.  When our life is full of these gifts, does it mean that God is happy with us?  What does it mean when these gifts – and the glory days they represent – are taken away?  Has God abandoned us?  

However bright your glory days were, I defy you to compare them with David’s.  1 Samuel 18:1-7 picture him a celebrated young hero, glowing from the defeat of Goliath and the Philistines, decked out in the robes of the prince, enjoying the close companionship of Jonathan and the praise of his countrymen:

The women of Israel sang of him: “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”  The glory days!

But how quickly the glory faded.  David was forced into exile by Saul, who wanted him dead.  I Samuel 20:42 describes David leaving his new wife, his best friend, his protection, his homeland, the glory of his professional success, and even basic provisions.

David’s life becomes characterized by raw survival: left to fend for himself, he cajoles Ahimelech into giving him some bread (1Sam 21:1-6), he feigns insanity just to stay alive in the presence of Achish, the king of Gath (20:10-15), and he takes shelter in the Cave of Adullam, gathering around him 400 men “who were in distress… debt…and bitter in soul” (I Sam 22:2).    Hunger… danger… untrustworthy allies… has God abandoned David?

The author of 1 Samuel wishes the story of David to remind us of Joseph, whose fortunes were overturned by exile and imprisonment.   Joseph’s glory days had faded, having been falsely accused of rape and unjustly thrown in prison.  And yet, “The Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love” (Gen 39:21).  Both David and Joseph were in the center of God’s will and the object of his love, even after their circumstances had darkened.  Paul the Apostle, who faced the exile of beatings and an unjust prison sentence, “rejoiced in the Lord” and knew “how to be brought low… I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil 3:12).

If your life is less prosperous, healthy, and meaningful than in days of yore, take hope from this truth: God draws near to his children whose glory days have passed.  God allows his children to experience the cross, and through their suffering he produces a deeper, lasting glory.

Consider the ways David’s suffering reflected God’s loving presence.  First, God used David’s suffering to expand his capacity to pray and worship.  Read through Psalm 22, 31 and 34 from the perspective of David’s exile.   Only one who had experienced the intensity of David’s emotional pain could produce such masterful works of prayer and poetry. In addition, God used David’s exile to prepare him for greater leadership and responsibility.   He was put in charge of 400 dysfunctional men in the Cave of Adullam (1 Sam 22:1-2), and led these men into battle and victory at Keilah (I Sam 23).  This complex leadership assignment prepared him for the complex burden of leading Israel as their King.

The Bible does not give us stories about God blessing his people by decreasing their problems and increasing their fortunes.  God does not seem concerned to keep the glory days alive.  Rather, the Bible tells us about how God’s loving presence saturated the Israelites in Egyptian slavery, Joseph in an Egyptian prison, David in the Cave of Adullam, Jesus on the cross, and Paul on a shipwrecked boat.   The glory days had passed, but God has not abandoned his people.  Rather, he is producing in them – and us – a glory that does not fade with time.

Today in prayer, meditate on Psalm 31.  Reflect on David’s suffering, Jesus’ suffering, and your own suffering.  Journal through these questions: “Where is God in my suffering?  How has he shown me his steadfast love?  What are the marks of his grace, even though the earthly glory of my circumstances have faded?”  Then, end with the Lord’s prayer.