Traffic stood still. That’s never a good thing when you’re traversing the Pennsylvania Turnpike. After thirty minutes without moving, curiosity began to take over. Drivers turned off their ignitions and shed their seat belts in search of fresh air and accident information. The guy behind me walked forward and a conversation ensued. Over the next three hours, he poured out his story of pain, loss, and disappointment. I shared how Christ answers the deepest longings of the heart. I hope he heard me. Four hours later, traffic began to inch forward. I shifted into drive, marveling at how God fills unexpected detours with kingdom purpose.
In 2 Samuel 6, we meet David as the prophet Samuel anoints him king. Samuel had asked Jesse, David’s father, to gather his sons. There were eight boys altogether but only seven were invited to the anointing party. David was left out in the fields because Jesse assumed that God would never choose a ruddy shepherd boy. But the truth is that God loves to take the least likely—the least likely people and the least likely moments—and use them to magnify his strength.
After he was anointed, David was phenomenal. He slew Goliath and dominated in battle. After David’s victories, a new song hit the top of the charts in Israel, “Saul has struck down his thousands and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). When King Saul heard the crowds singing for young David, he was enraged with jealousy. He attacked David and sent him fleeing for his life. The future king and great warrior became a fugitive. He was constantly on the run and ended up living in a cave. David had been a rising star, but he became a fleeing felon with hit squads trying to track him down.
It was a major detour; more significant by far than being stuck in traffic on the Turnpike. David was lonely, despairing, afflicted, and in need of deliverance. But from that place of desolation, he prayed Psalm 57:
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and faithfulness (Ps. 57:2–3).
In that moment of desolation, David looked to the past and said, “God, you’ve been faithful before, and you’ll be faithful again.” Later the apostle Paul would echo the same sentiment. In the midst of his own tragic detour he wrote, “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Cor. 1:10).
How about you? Do you trust God’s faithfulness to deliver again in the midst of your daily detours? Perhaps you feel it now each time you leave your home: the great unknown awaits out in public. Masked faces populate public places, reminding us that we’re not in Kansas anymore. Restrictions are being lifted, but the coronavirus remains present. There are risks that are punctuated each time the press reports a small outbreak. Where do you look in the midst of this unexpected reality? What shall we say to these things?
Follow David and Paul’s example of faith. Look to the ways God has delivered in the past: “If God is for us who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:31–32) What father wouldn’t run to his kids in their moment of weakness? Whatever detours you’re facing—tribulation or distress, pandemic or persecution, you can have confidence that your God is present with you. He has delivered at the cross, and he will be faithful to deliver again. You may even find that he’s given you a gospel opportunity in the midst of a detour.