“God is my strong fortress, and He makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights” (II Samuel 22:33-34, NLT).
“God is my strong fortress.” Let’s say you have a newly installed storm shelter when you hear a warning that an F-5 tornado is headed your way. You run into the shelter, but you’re terrified – you have no idea if this untested contraption is really going to keep you safe. But the storm rips through and, afterwards, you walk out of your shelter completely unscathed.
You’ve learned something: your storm shelter will protect you every bit as well as the installer told you it would. The next time you hear a tornado warning, you’ll head for your shelter confident that it can and will protect you.
Your experience taught you to trust the storm shelter’s security. Likewise, David’s experience with God taught him that God was his “strong fortress” in times of trouble. Untested faith has a lot of growing to do, and faith grows tremendously during our greatest difficulties. David had learned this through many troubles that, without God’s mighty intervention, could have easily taken his life. No doubt, many of you reading this have learned this the very same way.
“He makes my ways perfect.” When you follow God’s plan for your life, your way is “perfect.” No, not a one of us manages to stay on track 24/7, but we avoid countless unnecessary heartaches and struggles when we seek to follow God’s leadership.
“He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” David grew up working out in the fields with his father’s sheep. He’d undoubtedly watched the deer leap seemingly effortlessly from one rocky spot to another. They didn’t hesitate. They didn’t worry. They had no doubt as to their ability. David didn’t have confidence in himself, but he had absolute trust in the One who made him “as surefooted as a deer.” He knew God had worked throughout his lifetime to prepare him to face the challenges that came with his role as Israel’s leader.
“He trains my hands for battle” (II Samuel 22:35a). This is huge, folks. Every difficulty – great or small – that God allows in our lives can be used to prepare us for things that lie ahead. Think about it this way: to a teen, a zit on prom night ranks a 10 on the crisis scale; but as we get older and face bigger challenges, we wouldn’t rank a zit as that big a tragedy. We weigh or rank crises according to our past experiences.
Note I said these things CAN be used to prepare us for things that lie ahead. It’s back to what the Christian life continually teaches us: we have to choose. When we choose to trust God in our bad times as well as our good, our faith grows and we learn to better cope with problems. Not only that, but our own experiences help us to encourage other who are going through tough times, especially ones that we’ve personally been through ourselves.
While some battles can definitely be avoided, many of life’s troubles hit us head-on and there’s no way to escape them. The one thing we can do is be prepared “for battle.” How do we this? By trusting God with our everything – the good, the bad and all in between; by staying in His Word; by staying in close fellowship with strong, like-minded believers; and by daily conversation with our Creator.