Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Help When You Feel Discouraged

Photo by Joy/Sunrise by God

Several times in the last few weeks the Lord has given me opportunities to share with people who are deeply discouraged. I’m not talking about “I had a bad day” discouragement.  I’m talking about “I feel crushed, I feel like I’ve fallen into a deep pit, I feel like I can’t go on” type of discouragement.

Have you ever felt that type of discouragement?

I have.

And so did the authors of the Bible.

There is no quick, easy fix for this type of discouragement.  But there is deep, powerful help.  There is encouragement from God which is strong enough, and deep enough, and lasts long enough to lift us back out of the pit and give us strength to keep going.

Myself, and many Christians before me, have found that thinking about the “big truths” of the Bible helps keep us anchored in life’s storms.  Here are three of those truths:

Encouraging Truth #1:  I remember that God created everything.  He made the sun rise this morning, and He will make sure it rises tomorrow morning.  He created galaxies that are too big for me to understand.  He created the laws of the physics and taught eagles how to fly and dolphins how to swim.  In other words, God is powerful enough and wise enough to handle the problems which threaten to overwhelm me.  The fact that God created everything gave the early believers encouragement after they were threatened and beaten and it gave them courage to press on (Acts 4:24).  It gives us courage today.

Encouraging Truth #2:  God Loves You. He loves you so much that He gave His own son to die for you.  If He loves me and you that much, He is not going to abandon us when we need Him (Romans 8:32).  We are confident that God will use His very great power and vast wisdom and unlimited riches to provide the help we need because we know His love is everlasting.

Encouraging Truth #3:  God is Going to Bring us to His New Heavens and Earth.  Our time of suffering will not last forever.  Soon the night will be over and an eternal dawn will rise (Psalm 30:5).  There will be no more darkness or evil or sin (Revelation 21:4).  We will live in pure and perfect joy and peace together with our Savior and with each other forever.

These three truths focus on God.  Believers in God have found through the ages that putting our hope in God and remembering God and His promises is powerful medicine for a discouraged soul, a crushed spirit, and a sad heart.  The descendants of Korah knew this to be true and were inspired to write a beautiful ancient poem in the midst of a time of discouragement.  Today this poem is found as two Psalms (42 and 43) in our Bible.  Originally they were probably read together as one.

Combined, these two Psalms consist of four sections (I’ve broken them up this way below).  Each section begins with honest struggling, hard questions, and admissions of discouragement.  But each section ends with hope.

At the end of these two Psalms, the author has not yet seen the big breakthrough he longs for in terms of God changing his situation.  But he has found hope because he remembers that God is good, loving, and faithful.  What the author wants most of all is to be close to God. I pray that God will minister to your soul as you read and think about these words from the Bible:

NLT  Psalm 42:1 For the choir director:
A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?
3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, "Where is this God of yours?"
4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!
5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again-- my Savior and 6 my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you-- even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.
7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
8 But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.

9 "O God my rock," I cry, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?"
10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, "Where is this God of yours?"
11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again-- my Savior and my God!

43:1 Declare me innocent, O God! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars.
2 For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?
3 Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.
4 There I will go to the altar of God, to God-- the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!
5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again-- my Savior and my God!

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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