Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What To Do When You Are Discouraged

It doesn't matter who you are, we all face discouraging times. Be as holy as you want to be, put on whatever face you want to put on, create a facade if you want but the truth is discouragement is real for all of us. So then the true question is not how to pretend you are not discouraged but what do you do when you are. Let's consider a man who faced a boat load of discouragement in his live; king David.

David was a man of faith and trust but the psalms he wrote give us the privilege of seeing into the reality of his heart. That reality shows that David faced all kinds of emotions but he did one thing with them all; he made the decision to trust. Now when I say he made the decision, I mean he forced his spirit to worship by making declarations that he bent his will to believe:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

I am sure that as David declared this he brought back to his remembrance all the good things, all the victories, all the incredible interventions Yahweh had done for him in the past. It times of discouragement, doubts and fears we need to force ourselves to remember the personal goodness of the Lord. What has he done for us in the past? We need to remind ourselves who he is, what he does, what he has promised and that, because of who he is, we have nothing to be discouraged about. What is more important, the values of this world or those of the Kingdom?

Misplaced priorities may be the cause of some of our discouragement. Maybe we got knocked off the path of holiness because our flesh had a desire that replaced the spirit. Renew your first love and you will remember what is important to you, as David did:

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple. (v. 4)

The Temple represented the presence of the Lord. We are that temple now as the Holy Spirit dwells in us. The presence of the Lord is what we value and we want to be aware, sensitive, to his presence. In David's great psalm of repentance his greatest concern expressed was that the Lord would cast him out of his presence. Our great desire should be to "dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life". When that is our desire and we live to permit that to be our reality, discouragement soon flees from us because it cannot take root.

Of course we can't fool ourselves into a mindset if we don't believe what we are trying to convince ourselves. If we do not believe the promises; if we forget what has been done in the past; if we don't believe that Jesus cares for us in our circumstances then we will not be able to de-root the discouragement that has laid siege upon our heart and mind:

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. (v.13)

Read that first line over a few times until the reality of it sinks in. David's reality was shaped by the fact that he did believe. Sometimes this world tried to overcome his belief, his trust, his knowledge and experience of the Lord but David forced himself to remember. He forced his spirit to rise up over his flesh and praise Yahweh. He forced it by making these declarations. I only gave you a small taste of those declarations here; go back and read the whole psalm. And consider how he ended it:

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! (V. 14)

You can decide who David is speaking to, us or himself, but consider those words. You can try to dispel discouragement with lies you tell yourself about this world. You can try to avoid the discouragement by hiding behind alcohol and drugs. You can try to distract yourself by entertainment but you are still going to be left alone with your thoughts in the middle of the night or when you wake in the morning. There is only one way to vanquish discouragement and that is by encouraging yourself in the Lord.

Wait on the Lord, says David, and be of good courage. Praise him. Declare his goodness. Declare your trust. Speak it out loud and feel the strength return to you because when you declare trust in the Lord he shall strengthen your heart. Go ahead, says David, wait on the Lord!

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