As we continue to wait on the Lord for answers to our prayers we can often feel so discouraged. In 1 Samuel 30 we read about how David and his men returned from a battle to find that their wives and children had been kidnapped by the enemy. David’s men were tired and exhausted and now they were angry and worried too, they wanted to stone David as they blamed him for the misfortune that had happened to them and their families. It was at this point, when David finds himself rejected by even the few men that had previously supported him, that we read that ‘David strengthened himself in the Lord’ vs 6. Instead of becoming depressed or giving up or thinking I can’t take it anymore David looked to the Lord for comfort and guidance when there was no else to encourage him. Many of us find ourselves in the same situation, faced with many challenges and feeling so alone while the promises of God have still not materialized. It is so important that we follow the example of David and strengthen ourselves and encourage ourselves in the Lord, (there is a great book on this verse by Bill Johnson called Strengthen Yourself in the Lord). Over the years I have tried so many different things, but the five below have been particularly helpful in helping me overcome discouragement in all its many guises, and I hope they will be helpful to you too.
- Read the Psalms. If anyone knew about discouragement it was David. The ones I really love are: Psalm 27, ‘What would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!’; Psalm 34, ‘they that seek the Lord shall lack no good thing’; Psalm 37, ‘Wait for and expect the Lord and keep and heed His way and He will exalt you’; Psalm 73 and Psalm 91 to name a few. But all of the Psalms I can safely say will provide you comfort and encouragement in even the darkest times.
- Listen to uplifting sermons. If I am feeling down then I go straight to Joel Osteen. Single friendly, super encouraging and he always starts with a joke. Check out The Twenty-First Day
- Make declarations. Declare the promises of God over yourself and your life each day. I recommend Igniting Hope Ministries, run by Steve and Wendy Backlund, which has a number of great lists not to mention a wonderful podcast and blog. See Steve’s Daily Declarations
- Read and be encouraged by biographies and autobiographies of men and women who knew what it meant to live by faith. My favourites are George Muller and Hudson Taylor, two men who really threw all their weight on the Lord and saw miraculous answers to prayer.
- Finally, list your assets and find your purpose. Take some wonderful advice from Norman Vincent Peale whose books I love (I particularly enjoyed the Power of Positive Living). Instead of thinking about what you don’t have make a list of what you do have. Good health, mobility, a roof over your head, a job, a car, friends, a pet, a good mind, a mom who loves you, a close sibling, a good church, an encouraging small group..etc. Then thank God for all these things and ask Him to reveal His purpose for your life, what is it that He wants you to do with all these assets, what is it that is on your heart, where do your passions lie? Finding our purpose in life is actually more important then finding our spouse or our spouse finding us. More on this in a later post.
If you have any other recommendations about what has helped you to overcome discouragement, please share in the comments. God bless you richly this week and may you be encouraged. Remember you are special, chosen and important. Keep on keeping on and eventually remember that with God it will all be more than ok!