I often catch myself feeling like the great men and women of the Bible are a special subgroup of superhero-like humans. When I compare my life to theirs, I can’t help but feel discouraged. More often than I wish, I find my character is more like Martha’s rather than Mary’s, more like the Laodicean church or the Children of Israel than the righteous saints that “keep the commandments of God and faith of Jesus.” The deep, self-sacrificing love my Biblical heroes have for God, their genuine faith and heart for aggressive service, often seem like another reality that I haven’t entered into yet. I must be a dud disciple right? One-hundred percent yes. But it doesn’t stop there. The Bible is full of very human experiences that share the struggles and failures, of average people like me, and the hope of change and victory that come from living a life fully entrusted to a loving God.
In episode two, Losing Your Fire, Dean and Adam unwrap the humanness of King David, once again highlighting the humanity, relatability, practicality, beauty and hope found throughout the Bible. Sure I am no king and I cannot relate to everything David experienced or struggled with, but I can relate to his inner heart-conflict described in 1 Samuel 27. The King of Israel doubted God’s ability to protect him from his enemy stating “in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul” (1 Samuel 27:1). Wait, what? Yep, David apparently struggled to believe in God. Except his unbelief wasn’t about believing in Gods existence but rather about believing in who He claimed to be.
Back in chapter 17, David stood boldly before Goliath and unashamedly fought to protect the reputation of his Lord, acting on his belief in God’s protection and power to accomplish an impossible task. In chapter 27 however, David appears to have doubts about God’s ability to provide for his basic safety needs. It certainly wasn’t because of a lack of evidence regarding God’s trustworthiness as he had personal experience with the faithfulness of His character. Instead of continuing entrust his life to God, David chose to doubt and took his eyes off Jesus and found himself devising solutions to his own problems. The rest of the story in Samuel 27 gives us a panoramic view of the end result of David’s choice. In an attempt to preserve his own life, David ends up under the enemy’s banner going to war against the Israelites, a traitor to his own kingdom. The root cause? Unbelief.
I don’t know about you but, ashamedly, I find David’s struggle is my struggle. One moment I happily put my trust in God and the next moment I relinquish my trust and find myself doubting and resisting His leading. Like David, I think I know what is best and seek to organize my life according to how I see fit. How often I focus on preserving my comfort or defending my reputation instead of considering how my choices impact the reputation and the heart of the One I claim to love and represent.
Do I trust His character? With my lips I say I do but I have come to the painful realization that my actions tell a different story…the tale of an unbelieving, wavering, half-converted heart. And, like David, when I choose to distrust who God is, I find myself standing under enemy’s banner…fighting against God instead of working with Him. Even though David chose to doubt, God in His loving kindness did not forsake the treacherous king and provided a way out of the results of his doubt (1 Samuel 29). The same is true for us today. Even though I waiver in my trust in God, He stands at my side, patiently saving me from my own undoing and faithfully calling me to stand under His banner again (James 4:7-10).
One of my favorite passages beautifully captures this inner faith struggle we see in David’s heart: “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:23,24). The battle boils down to a conflict over the identity of God. Who God is lies at the heart of this faith battle, David’s struggle and the Great Controversy. God declares He is love and Satan argues that He is not. Adam and Eve in very first book of the Bible had to choose between belief and unbelief. Would they trust that God loved them and had their best interests in mind or would they believe their own senses, experiences and the words of an intelligent snake? This age old question comes to us everyday. To each comes an opportunity to choose. Whom will you believe?
“Just believe in His love, and take Him at His word. No suspicion or distrust is to take possession of our minds. No apprehension of the greatness of God is to confuse our faith. May God help us to humble ourselves in meekness and lowliness. Christ laid aside His royal robe and kingly crown, that He might associate with humanity, and show that human beings may be perfect. Clad in the garments of mercy He lived in our world a perfect life, to give us evidence of His love. He has done that which should make unbelief in Him impossible. From His high command in the heavenly courts He stooped to take human nature upon Him. His life is an example of what our lives may be. That no apprehension of God’s greatness should come in to efface our belief in God’s love, Christ became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. The human heart, given up to Him, will become a sacred harp, sending forth sacred music.” —Letter 365, 1904