Grace and encouragement for intentional, authentic living.
Author: Anne Rulo
Anne Rulo is a writer, speaker, Christian and licensed therapist who provides encouraging material for those who are wanting to grow in faith, freedom and knowledge of self-care and mental health topics.
It’s a very exciting day here! After thinking about which book to study for over a year, typing the first words in January of 2022, and navigating the ever-present obstacles, delays, and life adventures, “When Faith Does” is finally out in the world!
When I started this writing adventure in 2018, I would never have imagined what it has become today with three studies published and speaking engagements that are growing more and more as the world rebounds from the pandemic. While I have sat here and physically typed the words, I have countless people to thank for guiding, teaching, and encouraging me both practically and emotionally. I could not have done this well without you.
“When Faith Does” follows the pattern of the previous two studies I’ve written, “Cultivating Joy” (Philippians) and “The God Blanket” (Colossians). Written as a five-week study, suited for individuals or groups, James is a great book to study to help us challenge our perceptions of life’s difficulties, favoritism, wealth, and living out our faith in action. Grace, humor, and challenge will meet you each day. As this study shows, James was a voice desperately needed both in his day and ours. I have prayed that I would be faithful and true in putting it together and that it would meet you exactly where you need. Happy launch day everyone! I hope you enjoy it!
As we come to the end of September, I wanted to share a couple of posts I’ve written for the University of Missouri’s Partners in Prevention regarding suicide education and prevention. Immediately below are quick titles and links to each or further, previews of each with accompanying links to the full posts.
The beginning of September marks Suicide Prevention Week, giving us a focused opportunity to learn and think compassionately about suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide), suicide attempts, and those we have lost. In the spirit of compassion, I wanted to take a moment to highlight some numbers and then, move in for a close-up view of “humanity behind suicide” to hopefully help us engage a little more personally, bravely, and effectively in prevention efforts.
In the way of numbers, suicide is one of the most common forms of death in the US, marking it as a major public health crisis. While it is the 10th leading cause of death overall, it is the 2nd leading cause in the 10-34 age range, and 4th in the 35-44 age range (CDC, 2019). These numbers translate to nearly 47,500 lives lost each year, making it extremely likely that you or someone you know has been impacted by suicide.
When we encounter someone experiencing suicidal thoughts, it can be very difficult or even intimidating to talk about. And yet, it is actually getting closer to the “humanity behind suicide” that can help us be more comfortable and willing participants in prevention efforts. In my years as a therapist on a college campus, I went through suicide prevention training countless times. However, it was the students I had the privilege of helping who made the training more “human.” I’m hoping some of what I learned may help you also as we work to keep our students safe. (Details generalized or altered to protect student privacy.)
The majority of students I worked with did not necessarily want to die, but they couldn’t see how to keep living. This wording may sound like semantics, but it’s not. One of the primary influences behind suicide is a sense of hopelessness that one’s situation cannot or will not change. Understanding that some people are thinking about dying because they are struggling to keep on living can help us focus our efforts on hope, seeking solutions, and encouraging the person to pause their planning. Any space we can put between the crisis they are experiencing and the act of suicide is a space where a life can be saved.
With Suicide Prevention month coming up in September, we are excited to discuss a public policy advancement in suicide and crisis intervention. In April, at Meeting of the Minds, many of us had the privilege of attending a discussion around the national change from the previous 1-800 number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This change is designed to make mental health crisis care more accessible, easier to remember, and use several fiscal and human capital resources more efficiently. That change is known as 988.
How Did This Happen?
In July 2020, while the world was reeling from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the shorter, more easily memorized “988” as the new number for the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Within two years, telecommunication companies were instructed to make the changes necessary to make sure 988 would be accessible to all users via call, text, or chat services at https://988lifeline.org
Why Make the Change?
As mentioned, 988 is easier to remember than the previous 1-800 number, a valuable asset for someone facing a mental health crisis. However, this more focused and streamlined approach is not just about remembering a phone number. Instead, the entire process previously followed during a mental health crisis was recognized as being inefficient.
For far too long, most people in a mental health crisis had few options, often needing to call law enforcement and wait at a hospital for an assessment. Despite hospital best efforts, this process would often take hours while the person in crisis sat awaiting treatment, and law enforcement officers could not return to their duties.
So, How is 988 Different?
When a person calls 988, they are connected to a local* suicide prevention specialist trained to help navigate a “no wrong door integrated crisis system” of care. Depending on the crisis, this may include someone to talk to, someone to respond, and/or somewhere to go. In Missouri, rather than being taken directly to the hospital, the following options are now potentially available:
Suicide Prevention Month comes with a lot of public health information on suicide prevention as well as statistics and education about new resources aimed at reducing the incidence of suicide. However, despite best efforts, sometimes we still lose people. As the twelfth leading cause of death in the general population, the second for people aged 10-14 and 25-34, the third for 15-24-year-olds, and fourth for those 35-441, as well as a significant risk for middle-aged men and the elderly, it is likely that you or someone you know will be impacted by a loss by suicide.
Those who lose someone they care about to suicide are often referred to as suicide “survivors.” While losing someone you care about for any reason is challenging, a loss by suicide can carry with it unique, complicated grief. If you or someone you know loses someone to suicide, this information may help you cope.
Suicide Often Results in Complicated Grief
One of the most difficult parts of a loss by suicide is the shock that accompanies the loss. For those who have seen Alice in Wonderland, the scene where Alice falls down the rabbit hole and everything is upside down, confusing, and disorienting, is a good mental picture of the way the world seems to lose its mental “footing” during this type of loss and shock.
Because our brains do not like to feel so disoriented and ungrounded, people tend to respond in one of a couple of ways to initially cope with a loss by suicide. The first, as mentioned, is shock which may play out as feeling numb or detached. When someone experiences trauma (which loss by suicide can be) numbness can protect the mind from overwhelm. On the flip side, some survivors experience intense emotions like anger or sadness that may feel like they come in “waves” as they attempt to process the loss.
Similarly, some people experience denial, feeling as though they aren’t affected while their brain takes time to process the information. It is not uncommon for some people to have a delayed reaction to loss by suicide until they have time to analyze the loss and emotions.
Because our brains want to make sense of things that are disorienting, many survivors struggle with guilt or a strong desire to understand “why” the loss happened. These thoughts can feel almost obsessive, taking up a large portion of a survivor’s thinking as they attempt to understand how this loss could have been prevented and/or want to understand everything they can about what the person they lost was feeling, thinking, etc.
Risks and Challenges Associated with Loss by Suicide
A loss by suicide has unique risks and challenges. One of the most difficult is that the concept or act of suicide has a complicated historic relationship with morality, religion, personal or family image, etc. While we know that suicide is a mental health crisis that deserves compassion and understanding but, for some, the stigma remains. It is important that those who lose someone to suicide find support from people who are compassionate toward this type of loss, rather than critical or shaming.
I am a mental health therapist by training. In this role, I’ve had all kinds of difficult conversations because they come with the territory. However, in my personal life, I haven’t had many opportunities (or maybe I’ve just been too scared?) to engage in intense confrontation with a friend. I don’t mean the type of confrontation where we are in conflict with one another. Instead, I mean the kind of confrontation that’s needed when someone steps outside of their usual values or appropriate boundaries. In fact, only one example comes to mind.
The type of confrontation I am talking about is the kind between Nathan and David in 2 Samuel. The scene that led up to this confrontation is pretty famous, but let’s quickly review the bullet points found in verse 11:
David’s men were away at battle, but he stayed at home.
David took an evening walk on his roof and noticed the beautiful Bathsheba bathing a few houses over.
David asked about her, found out that she was his soldier’s wife, and slept with her anyway.
Bathsheba became pregnant.
In an effort to cover his indiscretion, David called Uriah home.
When Uriah would not sleep with Bathsheba out of loyalty to the men still away fighting (strong irony for David), David sent Uriah to the front lines of battle, where he was killed.
David then downplayed the loss of Uriah and took Bathsheba as his wife.
This account takes up the entire eleventh chapter of 2 Samuel and ends with this sentence: “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”
As famous and salacious as this event is, that’s not where we are focusing today. Instead, we are jogging one chapter further and watching what David’s friend, the prophet Nathan, did in response to David’s actions. It’s pretty incredible. Let’s take a look at 2 Samuel 12:
“The Lord sent Nathan to David.”
Nathan told David a story about a rich man who took away a poor man’s only lamb and killed it for dinner rather than killing one of his own flock.
David was indignant, insisting that the rich man should die and repay the poor man four times over for his actions and lack of pity.
Nathan came strong with the conviction, telling David, “You are that man!”
After so many poor decisions, David finally repented and had to live with the consequences of his actions, which included the loss of his and Bathsheba’s first child.
Important Takeaways from Nathan and David’s Relationship
Much is made of Nathan and David’s interaction specific to the situation with Bathsheba. But Nathan had been with David for some time (see 2 Samuel 7:3). Their relationship began long before the Bathsheba incident and continued long after (see 1 Kings 1:11). Here are some important takeaways from their long relationship.
The first sentence of 2 Samuel 12 says this: “The Lord sent Nathan to David.” No matter how close we may be to someone, it is important to consult with God to see if we are the one who is supposed to say something about their choices. We definitely don’t want to be having this kind of conversation without God’s permission and guidance. Pray (a lot) before you speak.
Nathan and David had a relationship. While it is possible that God can ask us to speak into the life of someone we barely know, it tends to be more effective when there is an established rapport. Nathan likely got through to David because he had “earned the right to be heard.”
My very first course in college was a literature class where I learned a couple of really important lessons. One, I was not as good of a writer as I thought (the first of many academic ego blows delivered that semester), and two, a lot of literature that resonates with us has Biblical themes and imagery. I realize now this isn’t surprising, given that the very design of our being would of course be drawn to the stories that reflect it.
Fast forward to years working at a local college, and a professor there offered a seminar course in identifying Biblical themes in the Harry Potter series. Harry, the chosen child, James & Lily Potter’s grave inscription, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26), and Dumbledore’s, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19), the evil that is always attempting to destroy good, and (spoiler alert!) the sacrifice at the end that overcomes it all.
Of course, Harry Potter or any work of fiction (or non-fiction for that matter) is not the guiding light we follow. That’s what the Bible is for. But, I do appreciate it when a movie or story lends itself to a visual that helps me. That’s what I wanted to share today.
In the final Harry Potter movie, Hogwarts finds itself under attack from Voldemort. In an effort to protect themselves, Professor McGonagall calls on students and professors alike to take action. In addition to mobilizing some pretty cool stone soldiers, many of the adults step forward and begin casting protective spells into the sky, collectively forming a shield over the people and the place they love. It’s a powerful scene and, one that quite literally brings tears to my eyes as I think about it in the context of prayer.
While magical spells are of course fictional, the prayers we offer are not. When you speak words of protection, intercession, breakthrough, or freedom over your people and your places, you are contributing to something. It is as though each word you utter sends out power we cannot imagine, calling on God on their behalf. It is the shield we have the privilege to ask for through our connection to Him because of His sacrifice for us.
This week, as you pray over your children, your family, your friends, or your community, you are not just saying words. You are invoking the powerful privilege we are given in Christ to contribute to their protection, breakthroughs, and realization of His love. It is a blessing to them and a blessing to us to be a part of this protecting of the village, “in Jesus name.”
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16, ESV).
A funny conversation often occurs in my home when people come to visit. We’ll be standing in the kitchen, visiting or waiting for food and someone will glance at our fridge. “Um, why are you going to so many weddings?” they ask. Or, “Why are you invited to so many graduations this year? Your kids are young.” This observation always makes me smile because, for twenty years, that’s the way our fridge has looked.
The reason our family is perpetually in “wedding season” or “graduation season” is that I am married to an educator and a coach. Even though we keep getting older, each year we have eighteen-year-old student-athletes who are graduating and others getting married. Thus, each year we receive multiple wedding invitations and invitations to celebrate new graduates.
As you might imagine, our perpetual presence in these seasons of transition means we have heard quite a few reflective, motivational, or inspirational speeches. Whether it’s a dad at a reception, the valedictorian at a graduation ceremony, or the officiant at a wedding, we’ve heard many people try to capture “Here’s everything I want to say to you” in a handful of important lines. It’s always neat to hear what people want to be sure to say during these important times.
These experiences recently came to mind when I went pacing through the book of 1 Samuel. I’ve actually written about Samuel before, including the early circumstances around his call from God (1 Sam. 3) because his life is so fascinating to me. Unlike so many others in the Bible, Samuel did it right from beginning to end. There were no major scandals, he was respected, and he ended well. Not an easy task for someone God asked to lead a rather hard-headed people.
First Samuel 12 is subtitled, “Samuel’s Farewell Speech.” From his youth, Samuel served God’s people as the last judge. But as Samuel got older, the people began to demand a king to lead them instead. Despite resistance from Samuel and warnings from God, the people were eventually granted what they wished for, and Samuel anointed Saul as king (1 Sam. 8, 10).
Samuel was not leaving his job serving God’s people, but Saul being made king was a transition in the way things would be done. At that moment, Samuel took the opportunity to give a speech to the people he had been leading. Given that Samuel was such a good leader, it seems it might be helpful for us to consider what he included in his speech (Read 1 Samuel 12 for the full text).
Components of Samuel’s Farewell Speech
Reflection: To begin, Samuel reflects on his time leading these people. He talks about how long they have been together and their relationships with one another. In a bold move, he even asks them if he has ever been a poor leader! Both parties agree he’s done a good job. He follows this by reflecting on all the ways God has provided for them and their ancestors from the beginning until now.
Caution: Like any good leader, Samuel’s speech continues to guide these folks, even as his role is transitioning. He reminds them the past is full of evidence that bad things happen when people “forget the Lord.” He gives examples from the exodus out of Egypt and when they were given into the hands of the Philistines. He cautions them not to follow this pattern and reminds them of the consequences if they do.
I recently spoke with a group of women about “work as worship.” As it turns out, the majority of the Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible we translate as “worship” originally meant things like “to serve, to minister to” or “worship, work, and serve” as one simultaneous concept. While we tend to separate worship from work, the original concept was much more closely tied together.
So, if worship and work are meant to be tied together, what does that mean in terms of practical application? Of course, we can be more intentional with our vocational work. We can invite Jesus with us into the boardroom, classroom, office, or hospital. And, we can be more intentional about asking Him how He would use us in unpaid service. But, paid or unpaid, what exactly are we supposed to do? What jobs are “ours?”
One of the ways to evaluate these questions is to consider our individual designs. We are not replicated robots. We are uniquely designed in terms of our personalities, gifts, talents, temperaments, and more. If “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” (Eph. 2:10) then it stands to reason that our individual “workmanship” might have something to do with our work.
One illustration I’ll provide is a personal, ridiculous story. Years ago, when my children were much younger, our church asked for VBS volunteers. Out of guilt (which is where a lot of not fantastic decisions come from), I signed up. A week later, I found myself with elementary school teachers and sweet grandmothers, blood pressure rising steadily because a bunch of little kids tends to stress me out. I remember the coordinator’s joy as she announced, “I needed 60 volunteers and God provided abundantly. We have 61!” I knew at that moment at least one of us was not called to be there. Yes, I served that week, and I’ve served in other VBS too, but I’ve realized it’s not in the center of my design.
Of course, there are certainly times when God calls His people to work in hard, unfamiliar, or uncomfortable spaces. And, there are times when we are simply needed and we serve for that reason. But, this type of work is not more holy than the times when He calls us to something that fits within our design, gifts, and desire to serve people or a project that truly touches our hearts. Sometimes the work just “fits.” This difference is something I love to illustrate with penguins.
When a penguin is on land, it is not any less of a penguin. It does important stuff on land. But, it’s also awkward. They waddle and toddle and sometimes even fall over because their design is not most suited for land. It’s suited for water. Penguins in the water are exceptional. They are fast, efficient, agile, and productive. It is in the water where you can see how a penguin’s design really thrives, a less awkward version of how it works on land.
As you consider what God may have for you in terms of “work as worship”, maybe it is an awkward, uncomfortable, “on land” kind of assignment. But, I bet there is also some stuff He has for you that is smack dab in the center of how He has uniquely designed you. Something(s) where you think, “Yes, I love serving people in this way and I’m good at it!”
“Work as worship” is one of the most satisfying things we can do in faith. Sometimes, it’s in ways that feel awkward. But, sometimes it is in ways that feel so sweet to our “workmanship.” It is this very type of evaluation that has brought me to write these past four years. And, while writing is not always easy, I really love it and I hope it has blessed you. Likewise, I hope you are drawn to your own incredible journey in your “work as worship” as well.
This summer, I am enjoying something new. For years, my husband and I discussed having an outdoor gathering space. In previous locations, it never came to fruition. But now that we live on a bit of land and staying out at night to look at the stars is a common occurrence, we followed through.
The particular fire pit we picked out is round with a crosshatch design which makes a pattern play on the ground. There’s just something about the way fire makes objects and imaginings come to life. That’s probably why, on one of the first nights, my mind went to a fire-related story from the Bible—the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, the men who survived being tossed into an inferno.
What got these young Jewish men thrown into “the blazing furnace” was ancient civil disobedience. King Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon, set up a golden idol. He proclaimed that everyone was required to “fall down and worship the image of gold that [he had] set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace” (Dan. 3:5-6 NIV).
Despite the threat of death, the response of the three young men was incredible. They said:
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16-18 NIV, emphasis added)
King Nebuchadnezzar was so upset that he ordered the fire to be heated seven times hotter, bound the men, and threw them in. And then, an amazing (and I think incredibly comforting) miracle occurred:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Dan. 3:24-26 NIV)
Three men were thrown in but four were “walking around in the fire.” So, who was the fourth man? Many believe it was a pre-incarnate Christ or, at least, a divine figure provided as a help, witness, and support. No matter who it was, the way these men responded and how God responded have some wonderful takeaways for us:
No matter the severity of our circumstances or potential consequences, facing them in faith and allegiance to God is always our best choice.
Facing a difficult circumstance in faith does not mean feeling sure that you will be “saved” from a daunting outcome. As an example, people who face cancer in faith and die are not less righteous or holy than those who survive. As the men said, “the God we serve is able to deliver us from it . . . but even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods.”
We can be sure that whether we are spared from our fiery trial or not, God is in the fire with us. He does not leave his people to suffer alone. Even in our most awful experiences, when our very lives are on the line, he is near and attends to us.
Sleep is a daily, foundational part of our health routine, and yet, so many people struggle to get the right kind and amount, of consistent, uninterrupted snooze hours.
We understand the impact poor sleep has on our physical health. We can literally feel it when we wake up and still feel tired, sluggish, have trouble staying awake driving or in meetings, etc. But how does sleep impact our mental health? What impact does poor sleep have on our psychological, emotional, and social well-being? These are the questions we are exploring today.
How Much Sleep are We Supposed to Get?
Sleep research is fascinating and provides us with all kinds of information about how our brains work and develop. As we age, our sleep needs change. As infants, we start with needing 12 to 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours, 8 to 10 hours as teenagers, and 7 to 9 as adults. Then, even within these needed hours, you may sometimes need more if your sleep quality is poor, you haven’t had enough rest lately, or have a medical condition that affects your sleep pattern.
What Works Against Healthy Sleep Patterns?
How much sleep we get is just as important as the quality of sleep. And, while some people do not get enough sleep because they “just don’t go to bed”, others may be frustrated because while they are trying to get enough sleep, they don’t seem to be able to. There are many things that can work against a healthy sleep pattern:
Medical conditions such as chronic pain, eczema/psoriasis, neurological and musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy (78% of women have trouble sleeping at some point), and chronic pain can all create restless or interrupted sleep.
Stress and mental illness are definite sleep stealers. Healthy sleep is about getting our brain to rest and settle into the correct patterns to go in and out of regular sleep cycles. Sleep, mental illness, medication, and even alcohol can make us sleep too “light”, too “deep”, or cycle too rapidly to get healthy sleep.
Breathing concerns related to allergies, asthma, and sleep apnea can interrupt the breathing needed to keep us sleeping safely. If you sleep all night but still often wake up tired consult a medical professional. It may be that your sleep is being interrupted by breathing issues.
Sleep patterns change as we age. While older adults still need 7-9 hours of sleep, it can be harder to go to sleep or stay asleep.
How Does Sleep Impact Mental Health?
So, why does all this information about how much sleep and interrupted sleep matter?…
Writing over at Partners in Prevention about some awesome mental health movies to watch this summer. Definitely some of my favorites on this list!
Depending on how you count, there are either twelve or thirteen weeks throughout June, July, and August. Partners in Prevention thought it might be fun to provide a list that would allow you to watch at least one excellent movie each week that would not only be enjoyable, but also serve to increase our understanding, compassion, and mental health awareness. Without further ado (but with a quick reminder to permit yourself to say “no thanks” if it is too much or triggering) here are twelve awesome mental health movies for your summer!
Inside Out: These movies are in no particular order but I put my favorite first. As a mental health professional, I believe this movie should be on the standard curriculum for any counselor-in-training. The cast members are personifications of emotions living in the mind of a preteen girl, helping her (and each other) navigate the challenges of internal and physical transitions as she moves. It is delightful and incredibly well researched in terms of emotional intelligence, brain function, and memory.
Patch Adams: Gosh, this one is wonderful too, albeit more intense than the cartoon above. It feels even more poignant to enjoy the incredible talents of Robin Williams, knowing that his own life later ended by suicide. He is hysterically funny, touching, and powerful in this role that pushes the envelope on the boundaries of medical care, compassion, and humor.
Silver Linings Playbook: When I worked as a counselor at a college, we got permission to play this movie as part of a mental health movie lineup. It is a great story about what it can look like to have bipolar disorder, both treated and left untreated. Plus, there’s a love story interwoven with a passion for American football. Sounds like summer to me!
A Beautiful Mind: This movie captured my affection years ago. I was touched to see something as uncommonly portrayed as schizophrenia be told in such a raw, and hopeful, way. Yes, you see the main character, his family, and his career struggle. But, you also see them find a way forward. Even better? It’s based on the story of a real person, Nobel Laureate, John Nash.
Matchstick Men: If you are into heist movies, this one may be intriguing. Nicholas Cage stars as a con artist trying to steal a lot of money. All the while, his character also has to manage difficulties with obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, and panic attacks.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story: I haven’t seen this one but I am extremely intrigued by the storyline. It is a comedy set inside a psychiatric ward and it is one of the recommendations made by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health). Hospitals are supposed to be a place of healing, not fear, and it sounds like maybe this film gets it right!
Writing over at The Glorious Table today about how patient David was sometimes, and that he really struggled other times. Waiting on God’s timing isn’t often easy but is always worth it. Read below for a preview or link to the full post here.
When we look toward some of the Bible’s most recognizable characters, David really stands out on the ol’ Sunday school felt board. I mean, he’s got the whole shepherd thing going (1 Sam. 17:34-36), the slingshot that takes out Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50), and many times he made a heck of a king (minus the whole Bathsheba/Uriah debacle, but we’ll get to that later in 2 Sam. 11).
On the front end, David is a picture of incredible humility and patience. I’m guessing that being the youngest of eight brothers means he didn’t always get to do what he wanted. Considering that his father, Jesse, offers all of David’s brothers to Samuel for anointing and doesn’t even David in the lineup (1 Sam. 16:5-13) as well as his brother’s elitist attitude toward him (“Who do you think you are leaving the sheep?,” (1 Sam. 17:28) it seems that David was not exactly the most esteemed member of the family.
Despite the disregard David is shown by his fellow men, God chooses the young shepherd to be king over Israel. Considering what David’s life has been like up to this point, his anointing certainly had the potential to be pretty heady for a young man.
This is why it is so incredible that for years after his anointing, David remains inexplicably loyal to Saul, the established king, even when the guy tries to murder him! Then, after Saul dies, David still doesn’t hurry the process, instead waiting for Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth to get out of the way as well (2 Sam. 2:10). Finally, after “the war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time” (2 Sam. 3:1 NIV), David becomes king of Israel at age thirty (2 Sam. 5:4), at least fifteen years after he was first promised the crown. Incredible.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be so patient–not to mention so mistreated—while waiting for something that you-know-that-you-know-that-you-know is yours to claim.
Sadly, David’s Patience Waned as an Adult
Because David displays such incredible patience and integrity during his adolescence and early adulthood (not exactly years that are known for restraint), we might expect him to display even greater integrity as he ages. Unfortunately, that’s not how it plays out, and the history of David’s reign is marked by a major character stain: his affair with Bathsheba.
The details of the story may be familiar. While David’s troops are out fighting for the kingdom, David is hanging out at home and notices the beautiful Bathsheba bathing on a nearby balcony. David calls for her and sleeps with her, resulting in a pregnancy. Not wanting to be caught in his misdeeds, David then does some military order shuffling that ends with Bathsheba’s husband dead on the battlefield and Bathsheba being taken into David’s household as his wife (2 Sam. 11).
While it’s easy to get distracted by the salacious details of the story, what we want to focus on here is the drastic change in David’s character. Unlike the years he waited to become king, with all its discomfort and difficulty, he displays neither patience nor integrity here. He sees Bathsheba. He wants what he wants when he wants it. He sacrifices his integrity and the life of another to cover his indiscretions.
What can we take away from watching this drastic change from a patient, trusting young man to an impatient, occasionally reckless adult?
We need to trust, wait, and ask about God’s timing. No matter what the answer is.