Days in the Cave Part 2

Lyn Thompson, Pastoral Care, CTCA/SRMC

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave of Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him. - 1Samuel 22:1

While circumstances, loss and/or pain can often drive us into a mental or emotional cave in our confusion, shame or despair, caves are also places where we can discover some of God’s gemstones of truth for living an abundant life.

In my own experience during cave days, one discovery I made is that pain is basically lonely, regardless of what kind it is or from what wound you receive it. Even when you do something as simple as cut your finger, you're the one who feels it, nobody else. Someone else may have experienced a similar cut and may know what you're dealing with, but this cut is yours; and you're the only one who actually feels the pain. And because your tolerance for pain, your nervous system, your personality and background are different from anyone else's, so your experience with pain is unique.

People can hurt for you, but they can't make the pain go away or feel it as you do. This is something you need to see and accept, so you can accept your own reactions to the pain as you feel it, and the reactions of others to you when you don't think they fully understand what you’re feeling. It’s also something you need to see and understand if you’re going to be able to offer any real comfort and help to anyone else who is suffering.

In II Cor. 1:4-6, God tells us to comfort others with the comfort with which He has comforted us. Who has been comforted by God except those who have suffered pain? Because Jesus suffered for us, He was comforted by the Father; and He learned best how to comfort us. In turn, as we are wounded and suffer, we learn best how to comfort others.

How does God comfort us? In a multitude of ways, to be sure. But one way I discovered is that even when you smile bravely in public, God knows your hurts, and He’ll draw people into your life to minister to you in His Name. Often He’ll place your name on their hearts for prayer. Or you’ll receive a phone call or a card from someone, seemingly out of the blue, with just the encouraging word you need to hear. Those prayers are a comfort, as are the calls and letters, letting you know God is at work. Many times they’ll be instrumental in keeping you going some days.

How do we comfort others? Again, in a multitude of ways. We can pray, look for needs to meet, listen when someone needs to talk, be ready with a hug or word of encouragement and ask God to make us sensitive to their pain, among other things.

But another way is to be honest and transparent about our own pain and the things we've suffered. To me, it's a comfort to know I'm not the only one with weaknesses, who feels like giving up and who sometimes fails under trial. It's a comfort to know I'm not the only one who cries when I'm hurt.

I guess that's why I love David so much, the one the Bible describes as a "man after God's own heart." He's so real, so genuine, so open in the Psalms. I'm in awe of men like Joseph and Daniel who never seem to have one ruffled feather or fear, but David is probably my hero. He has his great moments and his tragic ones, but he's larger than life in his humility before, dependency on and love for God. In addition, he's so honest about himself, his failures, his hurts, his feelings, his pain. I can relate to David in his humanity. He suffered openly, for a variety of reasons, and still found God sufficient in every situation. He lived in the caves and emerged to fight another day.

Apart from giving comfort to others, I've also discovered that when I can admit to myself and others that I am weak and wounds hurt, I experience the reality of His strength as He keeps me standing. This is a personal comfort.

Another lesson I've learned is not to place unrealistic expectations on myself. When a person is physically ill or in pain, he's usually too weak to do much more than contend with his illness. The same is true with mental and emotional traumas. The main order of business is to get well, and not necessarily all in one day. For some, recovery may be rapid, and for others, it may take a long time and a series of steps. There's no right way or set timetable to get well. The goal is simply to do it.

Therefore, you don't have to feel guilty about spending days in the cave, unless, you linger there when you can get out or when God is telling you it's time to leave. God led those 400 men into the cave of Adullam to be with David. They didn't just decide that it sounded like a wonderful place to live. These men were miserable. Their lives weren't going the way they'd expected. But instead of making things great for them, God made them great for circumstances by taking them to a dark place to prepare them for a new purpose and direction and find hidden treasure within themselves. Then, in His timing, He led them out to a future they’d never even envisioned.

This devotional was previously published by the author and is used by permission of the author.

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