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When my sons were younger, I remember them and my late husband, Chuck, watching Jackie Chan movies.

Fast and funny, Jackie stars as a master at martial arts, usually fighting about five or six bad guys at once — and beating them all.

I remember one scene where Jackie was running from some scary dudes.

As Jackie ran, he was throwing things behind him to hit or trip them up.

He was pretty skilled at that.

Those bad guys were ducking, scrambling and falling.

I’m glad I wasn’t one of them.

But recently, I started thinking about things that can trip us up.

For instance, we want to spend more time with the Lord, praying and reading his word.

We don’t want to get so discouraged about daily situations.

But as we race down the highway of life — trying to meet our goals — it’s almost like the enemy of our souls is in a truck ahead of us — tossing out things designed to knock us off our path.

See that big, old TV he’s tossed out at your little car?

That’s a distraction. He wants you to watch that re-run you’ve already seen three times.

Because, after all, what else have you got to do?

You barely dodge that obstacle and manage to spend a little time praying.

But the next day, he heaves a big sack of rocks at your speedy vehicle.

It’s some discouragement that you never saw coming.

Maybe, it came after a mistake at work.

Or an unexpected bill.

Or the reminder of a long, unfulfilled dream.

So you stop by the road and pick up that sack — that heavy burden — something you know God doesn’t want you carrying around.

Stop a minute.

He can help you handle this.

And he wants you to trust him.

Recently, I was discouraged when someone reminded me of a great Bible story.

We find it in 1 Samuel, chapter 30, in the Old Testament.

It involves a former shepherd named David, who killed a giant called Goliath.

Now after such a big victory, you’d think Israel’s ruler — King Saul — would be elated.

But he gets crazy jealous when people start singing that “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands.”

The time comes when David must run for his life from the king.

David will be on the run for a very long time and a less-than-merry band of misfits will end up following him.

At one point, David and his men go off to battle, leaving their wives and children behind in a place called Ziklag.

The wicked Amalekites attack and burn Ziklag and capture the women and children.

They don’t kill them, but they carry them away.

David and his men return, find Ziklag destroyed, and cry until they have no strength left.

And if things aren’t bad enough, David’s men start talking about stoning him to death.

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He’s becomes very distressed.

But here’s the part of the story that I love.

In verse six it says: “But David found strength in the Lord his God.”

Then David does something really smart.

He asks God what to do.

“Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” David asks.

And God answers. He lets David know he’ll succeed in the rescue.

So David and his men head out. They find an Egyptian slave abandoned by one of the Amalekites. They feed him and the slave takes them to the bad guys’ camp.

David and his men fight the Amalekites from dusk until evening the next day.

Did he throw stuff at them like Jackie Chan does?

I doubt it.

But David wins and none of the bad guys get away except 400 young men who ride off on camels and flee.

Oh well. What was David going to do with a bunch of camels?

Camels kick — probably harder than Jackie — and they spit.

Anyway, the great thing is that David and his men recover everyone and everything the enemies had taken.

Verse 19 of chapter 30 says: “Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back.”

David takes all the flocks and herds, and his men drive them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.

He even shares some of the plunder with the men of Judah, who are his friends.

What do we learn from this?

It’s OK to get bummed out

  • . David and his men cried when they found their wives and children missing.

Focus on God.

  • Despite his grief, David never lost sight of the only one who really could help him.

Find strength in God

  • . How did David do this? I don’t know. Maybe he prayed and reminded himself about all the times God had helped him before. Maybe he asked for strength.

Worship

  • . I wonder if David, who wrote many Psalms, also worshiped and sang songs of praise to the Lord. Worship is powerful.

Remember King Jehoshaphat? When faced with a huge enemy army, he sent out singers. As they sang and praised God, the Lord set up ambushes and the enemies all killed each other. Similarly, as we praise and sing, the enemies of doubt and discouragement can be defeated.

Seek God’s counsel

  • . David asked God what to do and waited for an answer, expecting the Lord to speak. And he did.

Follow God’s instructions

  • . David followed God’s plan and found success. He and his men got back everything. And there was some extra plunder that David was able to share.

It’s true that we may never fight a whole army of people, but we can go to battle — and win — against discouragement. The key is to seek God’s help and then step out in faith.

Then we can share with others the encouragement that God has given us.

And we don’t have to be as tough, fast or funny as Jackie.

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Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.

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