Do you ever get discouraged? Who am I kidding; we all do. The subject of discouragement came up during our “family service” since church had been cancelled because of snow and ice. It was really quite precious to see my 10 year old up in front of the fireplace giving what was the shortest sermon of anyone’s lifetime. After that, someone asked the question, “Is discouragement a sin?”
My heart did a summersault. Discouragement has been a battle for some months now. Last January we found out we are expecting baby number four in September, just two weeks after the new blog launch. Severe morning sickness was not my friend, despite medicine and partial bedrest during the first half of the pregnancy to keep it in check. I had to be taken care of again. The grey road of the future had gotten me in it’s clutches, and I wanted to know the answer to this question on discouragement. I hung on every word that was being said by the voices of wisdom in the room from my husband, father and mother.
I learned that no place in the Bible says that discouragement itself is a sin, but if we let it abide in our hearts then it can lead us to a place of sinning. That’s what I had done. Blamed God for allowing me to go through many awful weeks. When I looked deep in my heart, I owned up that I was mad at Him.
The Father knows that we are flesh and will encounter human trials. He understands what we go through and will even allow trials of our faith to strengthen us. I learned that He doesn’t want us to get irate with Him, but rather respond by allowing Him to be our source of comfort, strength and joy.
Maybe that’s why our unpleasant circumstances seem like a hopeless situation. That way, we can see that we are helpless by ourselves. He leads us to Himself, so He can work where we cannot.
David knew this and encouraged himself in the Lord.
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV
In 1 Samuel chapter 30 we learn that the Amalekites had invaded Ziklag, burned it with fire, and took all the people there captive including David’s two wives. So when David and his men returned and discovered this they all “lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep” (verse 4). It was no wonder David was “greatly distressed.” Not only were these circumstances thrust into his lap, but the people who were with him started talking about stoning him because they were so upset! What did David do next?
He encouraged himself in the Lord.
Then he inquired of the Lord if he should go after the Amalekites and beat their tushies. God said to go for it, and that he would get everything back. And that’s exactly what David did, but if he hadn’t first encouraged himself in the Lord the results could have been entirely different.
How to Encourage Yourself In the Lord
1. Remember God is who He says He is. He is sovereign and in charge of my life. As long as I have submitted my circumstances to Him, He is the One who is in charge of them.
2. Put your hope in God. (Psalm 42:5) It’s easier to hope in the tangible, like medicine, to see us through. But that’s not where our hope is supposed to rest. Putting your hope in God is a choice, specifically to trust Him with our all.
3. Remember His promises. At times you need to counsel yourself back to correct thinking. He loves me (Jer. 31:3) He died to save me from sin (Jn. 3:16). He cares for me (1Pet. 5:7) He won’t leave me (Heb. 13:5). He will help me (Isa. 41:10). He gives me strength (Isa. 40:29).
4. Choose joy. I often get annoyed hearing this truth when I was discouraged. “Talk to the hand, you don’t know what I’m going through!” Yet deep down I know that God is more concerned with teaching us to consistently trust in Him, and refining our character, than He is with erasing our fiery trials. It’s usually the difficult times that lead us to Him. So I have to make a choice to rejoice (Phil. 4:4).
I can testify that these ways are easier said than done. It has taken me months to do this consistently enough that I could crawl out of the hole I was in from the rough pregnancy. I’m grateful to have learned how to encourage myself in the Lord from it all!
What do you do to encourage yourself in the Lord?
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