Tag Archives: discouragement

What I know about you. . .

. . . you are hope-full!

 

Depression is many things.  We know today that depression can be a chemical imbalance.  We know that depression can be seasonal.  Some say that depression is anger, others say sadness, still others say loneliness.  I suspect many people feel all of these at the same time and much more.  But I think a common thread runs through depression, no matter how it is caused.  Depression is a loss of hope.

Where do you go when hope is gone?  What do you do?  Try harder?  Work smarter or faster?  When your car is stuck in the snow bank, does it help to spin the tires faster?  No, when hope is gone, giving up seems reasonable.  Depression, for some people, is that closed loop between the logical decision to give up and the heart desire for something to be different.

I have believed for years that there is a strong correlation in our hearts between hope and help.  In fact, the Greek word for hope sounds like help.  The Scriptures use help to communicate assistance or comfort or relief.  But help isn’t what we need when we are discouraged.  In those times when we look ahead and see no change, no progress, despair comes easily—not because we have no help, but because we know that more help won’t help.  We need hope.

We need something outside ourselves.  When trying harder doesn’t do it and we have tried all the ways we know or care to try, there just isn’t any more we can draw out of ourselves.  The legalist comes along and tells us to stop being sad or angry, to put a smile on our faces and push forward, but we have done all that and it didn’t help.  The old line, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me,” is a lie.  We think, “If it’s up to me, it isn’t going to be.”

And we need a person.  More and better rules or methods aren’t the answer.  An idol of rock or wood won’t be enough.  Another book to read, another class to attend, another trick to try—these things aren’t what we need.  They all tell us to draw more from ourselves and we are tired.  Drugs may help to soften the pain and exercise may cause new blood to flow in our veins, but what do we do when there just isn’t any more, when we have given all we have to the cause?

And we need a person bigger than the people we know.  As long as our helper is “just like me” we have little hope.  Certainly others can encourage and love, but the hope we need is more than they can provide.  We need someone bigger than this world, someone who is stronger than the problems of life.  Fellow sufferers are important, but they don’t give us hope.

There is a Person who loves you, Someone who is bigger than your problems, bigger than the world.  He has come to you in Jesus.  Jesus is the Lord God Almighty in human flesh.  Somehow, by a great mystery, God came into our world TO BE OUR HOPE!

And you and I have hope.  There is no problem that can overcome us, because we look to Him.  There is no situation that can move us to despair, because He is there and He is real.  And He has promised that those who come to Him through Jesus will find life and freedom and love forever.

One of the verses of Amazing Grace we often skip over is so important for us.

The Lord has promised good to me…

His word my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures.

 

David certainly understood this.  He struggled with his feelings.  I think he suffered from depression.  Like us, he forgot from time to time that God was with him and loved him.  He began to look at the opposition he faced or the troubles he suffered and his own weakness.  When he did that, he began to despair.  But God lovingly and patiently drew David back and so many of the Psalms end with praises to the Lord.  God was David’s hope.

 

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5

 When we struggle, the Lord is our hope.  When the world seems to be too much, there is One who is bigger.  When we can draw nothing more from ourselves, He is there with plenty.

But listen: if you know someone who is struggling, be sure to remind them in love of the One who loves them.  Don’t tell them to have more faith or to buck it up because of Jesus.  Tell them they are loved and there is One who is greater than their problems.

There is hope in the Lord.  The day of peace will come.  The future is good.  The results of your project are in His hands.  He loves your children more than you do.  There is no failure for those who walk with Him.  There is no sin that can separate you from Him.

Those who belong to Jesus are full of hope, even when they forget.

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Dark Thoughts

I suppose I am going to have to stop watching the news.  Gas prices are going through the roof and we probably shouldn’t take a vacation this year.  That’s okay because I won’t have any money by then anyway, with the food prices going so high.  That’s okay as well, because all the food out there is filled with poisons or lead or deadly bacteria.  That’s okay because pretty soon the world will be engulfed in a nuclear war.  And, I guess that’s okay because the crazies are planting acid bombs in neighborhoods near ours and we will probably be gone soon anyway.  That is, if the tornadoes don’t get us first.  Or the terrorists.  Or the radon gas. Or…..

“Gloom, despair, and agony on me!  Deep dark depression, excessive misery.  If it weren’t for hard luck, I’d have no luck at all.  Gloom, despair, and agony on me!”  Someone might remember that old song.  Well, I probably won’t stop watching the news, but I will try to remember not to despair.  The thoughts of darkness are no longer mine.

You ever have dark days?  Maybe you wake up in the night with dark thoughts, thoughts that someone is going to die, that an important thing has been forgotten, that the world is coming to an end.  Those dark thoughts can ruin a good night’s sleep!  Those dark days can ruin a week or a month.

But those are not our thoughts.  Those thoughts come to us from the outside.  The light of the Lord fills us now.  There is no darkness with Him.

So why do we have those thoughts?  Because our flesh is insecure, filled with fears.  When Peter trusted Jesus, he walked on water.  When he took his eyes off Jesus and looked around at the raging sea, he began to sink.  You know the kind of thing that went through Peter’s mind: “I can’t walk on water!” And down he went.

Are you the kind of person who waits for the “other shoe to drop?”  That’s an American saying that simply means when something good is happening, we expect that it will be balanced by something bad.  In fact, in the midst of great times of our lives, many of us find the darkness creeping in. “Something bad is going to happen.  This is too good to be true.”

That’s the flesh.  It says that we shouldn’t feel too good about ourselves because a fall is just around the corner.  It’s the world’s perspective that good and evil should somehow balance.  It’s the evil one’s perspective that accuses and discourages and lies.  Yes, lies.  These are all lies.

Yes, bad things do happen; but so do good things.  And the expectation of evil is a part of your past.  As a believer, no matter how far along the journey, you are still learning to trust the Lord.  You are learning to walk in the light and the joy of your relationship with Jesus.  He says He desires good for you…

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

 

Let the past be past!  Push those dark thoughts away.  They are not from the Lord and they don’t belong to you.  Instead, think on the things the Lord has done and who He is in your life.  Praise Him and trust Him.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” 3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. 4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. 5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. 8 Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. 14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” Psalm 91:1-16

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