July 26, 2017

Dealing with Discouragement

We all get discouraged at some time or another. If you’re human, and you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about.

Maybe you got passed over for that promotion you wanted. Maybe you came down with the flu just when you desperately needed to get something else done. Maybe nothing happened to you, but your family members are struggling with their health or their finances. Maybe one of them is out of work and can’t seem to find a job anywhere. 

Disappointments abound in this life. It shouldn’t surprise us, for it’s even laid out in the Word of God that we will have many cares during our time on this earth. Otherwise, how could we cast all our cares upon Christ, knowing that He cares for us?

Yes, we all get discouraged. But it’s what we do with that discouragement, how we respond to it, that makes the difference between trudging around with limp hands and feeble knees, or walking around doing what needs to be done with head held high and heart full of joy and peace. 

Obviously, the trite (but true) answer to the problem of discouragement is to bring it to God. Cast the difficulties at His feet, and leave them there, knowing that He cares for us and will deliver us, not around the trials, but through them. But what are we supposed to do after we cast them at His feet? We can leave them there, but then what do we focus on? If nothing else fills our minds and hearts, we will find ourselves again overwhelmed with worry and discouragement. We must replace those thoughts that wear us down with ones that will lift us up. We can do so by listening to sacred music, with lyrics that exalt God and bring praise to His name. We can do so by meditating on hymns and on Scripture. We can do so by praying God’s words back to God

For instance, consider Psalm 103. Yesterday, I felt really discouraged about some things going on in our lives right now, and was crying out to the Lord for deliverance. During my time of prayer and Bible study, He led me to read through Psalm 103, which starts off with “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” Well, you can’t really “bless the Lord” with “all that is within” you if you’re harboring self-pity or meditating on what-if’s. You can’t really bless the Lord with your entire being if part of you is still holding back, trying to keep a tiny bit of control over your circumstances. You have to truly surrender every part of yourself – your mind, emotions, desires, reasoning, concerns, even your needs – in order to let your whole being be a song of praise to God.

Here’s an example of how to pray the first 5 verses of Psalm 103 back to their Author:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Oh Lord, let my entire being- body, soul, and spirit- be fully surrendered to You. Let my mind and my heart meditate on You and savor Your words. Let my thoughts please You. Let my desires be subject to what You alone want. Let me trust Your goodness and love to provide what I need in this life. Let my life be a blessing to You, let it be a song of praise right now, at this very instant, in the midst of everything discouraging. Let me bless Your name, for it is holy, exalted far above anything I can imagine. Let my life be worthy of Your holiness.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…
Let me not forget everything You have ever done for my own benefit. Remind me of Your works in ancient history, for You are still the same today. Bring to my mind the truths of Your character- Your love and faithfulness, Your goodness and mercy, Your forgiveness, Your grace. Show me Yourself. Show me Your glory in the world around me; remind me of Your goodness to me, so that I may bless Your name.

Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…
You have promised to fully and freely forgive all who come to You in true repentance. You have promised to heal us, both physically and spiritually. And while we groan inwardly, waiting for our bodies and our earth to be redeemed, to be free from all effects of sin, let me praise You. Let my weak flesh exalt You while I eagerly await Your full redemption. Let me bless Your name for Your unfailing forgiveness and grace.

Who redeems your life from the pit…
Let me bless You, Lord, for Your sacrifice of love for me! You have suffered the anguish of separation from Your very self, so that I might benefit, that I might not suffer that same separation for eternity. You paid the price of my unworthiness, cleansed my account from all accusation of sin, covered me with Your cloak of righteousness and counted me worthy to be Your very child. Let me praise You now and for eternity, for the great love wherewith You loved me, that I might live with You in heaven rather than suffering torment and separation from You in the pit of hell.

Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Let my whole being bless You, O Lord, for You are infinitely good! You have not only saved my life from eternal separation, but You shower me with blessings. You literally crown me with Your steadfast love and unfailing mercy. You satisfy my hungry soul with Your pure goodness, never giving me anything that would harm me spiritually, but providing good things that will exalt Your name above all names. Let me bless You with all that is in me, for You give strength each day, You give grace to walk where You lead, You give me Yourself, and that is all I truly need.

Let me challenge you to go to Psalm 103 for yourself, read through it thoughtfully and prayerfully, and then go through it again, praying every phrase back to its original Author. Pray each phrase, then pray it in your own words. Pour it out from your heart to His. Worship Him as you pray it, acknowledge His true worth, far above what we can even imagine. Let this psalm be your prayer of praise to the Lord.