Have you ever experienced a time when you were hoping and waiting for something to happen, with great anticipation? Things seemed to be falling in place and there were signs that your dream would soon be realized...but, then...it didn't happen. Not only did it not happen, but things went backward. And you were left disappointed...disillusioned...devastated.
Years ago, I heard a woman named Babbie Mason speak at a Women's Retreat at Warm Beach Conference Center. Babbie, a singer/songwriter/speaker/professor of music, shared that the "prince of darkness", aka Satan, aka the Devil, loves to use things, that begin with the letter "D", to bring us down. She rattled off a whole list of "D" words:
You get the picture...any of those resonate with you lately? So what do we do when these things, and the resulting emotions, hit us?
Look to God's Word...
One of the most effective weapons to Satan's assault is to turn to God's word...to read...to meditate...and even memorize words of reassurance and encouragement. A former pastor of ours shared a message recently based on Psalm 42, where the psalmist says,
"My soul is cast down within me, therefore I remember you," (vs 5), and "By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, A prayer to the God of my life" (vs 8), and "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."
Pastor Mark encouraged us to speak God's word to our discouragement, along with our prayers for a breakthrough, for redemption, for relief.
Several of my favorite "go to" verses when I get discouraged are:
Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord Your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
Lamentations 3: 21-25, "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope; the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, and his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him."
Isaiah 43:1-3..."Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior. "
Job 23:10, "But he knows the way I take, and when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Listen to meaningful music...
Several songs that have been speaking to me lately...
Let the tears flow...
Recently, I read these words from John Piper, "Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he's given you." For some reason, it feels good to be encouraged to weep. I remind myself that even Jesus wept.
Persist in prayer...
Pray on...even when it seems God is silent. He assures us over and over that he hears us...every word...every lament...every sigh...every praise...every word of thanks. Be a prayer warrior, and fight on! "Nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37.
Surround yourself with caring friends...
Spend time with true friends. Friends who will listen without judgement, a safety net in a dark season of life. Friends who will make you laugh and invite you to do something fun! Friends who will share their own heartbreaks and sorrows, never leaving you feeling worse about yourself.
Look up and get outside...
When I was in college many years ago, sometimes I would call home and tell my mom and dad about some struggle I was having. One of my dad's first responses was always, "When was the last time you went for a walk?" He always encouraged me to get outside, breathe fresh air, get my lungs working and endorphins flowing...a natural stress reducer.
Remember you are loved...
Over and over, God reminds us that He loves us...though it may not feel like it sometimes. Jeremiah 31:3 says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love...". We may never know why these times of discouragement come, but we know, we know, that He has a plan for us, a plan for a good outcome (Rom 8:28). He does not abandon us, "You, in your great compassion, did not forsake them in the wilderness," Nehemiah 9:19. And, he often brings something new and fresh...something good...into our lives, when we least expect it (Isaiah 43:18-19).
As summer winds down, may you lean into Him and find time to rest. Jesus loves you, this I know....Warmly, Gracia