Remember the famous old hymn, "Do you have any rivers you think are uncrossable? Do you have any mountains you can't tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible. He does the things others cannot do! Sometimes people feel depressed, disheartened and frustrated when those around them are bubbly. Occasionally, clinical depression can be the cause of some feelings of dejection, but usually low feelings can be overcome. David was a man prone to depressed feelings like a lot of us. Once he wrote, "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." (Psa. 40:2,3) Not only did the Lord bring David out of his depression, but also He used the transformation as a powerful witness to others who learned from his experiences.
The following are a few guiding principles to feeling encouraged despite our discouraging circumstances.
1. Many things will discourage us if we let them. Great sailors once wrote, "For God spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. In their peril their courage melted away." (Psa.107:25,26) Refuse to give into temptations to feel fearful knowing even though you might walk through the valley of death you need not fear any evil because Jesus is with you. His presence assures you of comfort, strength and protection from anything outside of His perfect will.
2. Many people will discourage us if we let them break our spirit. Paul writes about one tender friend named Epaphroditus who he called "my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier." At one point Paul writes with a feeling of desperation, "Indeed, Epaphroditus was ill and almost died. But God had mercy on him and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow." (Phil. 2:27) The Lord knows our limits. He knows how much sorrow we can bear.
3. Do not let the grief of disappointments from people cause you to give in to feelings of sadness. David wrote, "Why are you downcast O my soul. Hope in God for I shall yet have reason to praise Him. For He is my hope and my strong tower."
4. Many problems will discourage us if we let them. Paul writes, "I have learned the secret of being content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:12.13)
5. Through Christ we are equal to and able to overcome any problem. He miraculously gives us the courage, the will and the resoluteness to be what God wants us to be. It is a promise that is greatly under utilized in both quality and quantity.
6. Many set backs will discourage us if we feel let down. Solomon once wrote, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13 :12) Do not give in to the temptations to let minor or major set backs defeat your spirit. We have this promise from the Lord, "He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them." (Psa.145:19)
7. The Lord is eager, but not hasty about fulfilling His promises for those who obey Him. Many personal attitudes will discourage us if we let them. Solomon once wrote, "For as a man so thinks within himself, so he is." Develop your attitudes based on your worship of His entire attributes. Do not concentrate only on the aspects of God's judgment. He is a perfectly balance God who is able to transform our thinking to see the bright spots in every dark situation.
8. Many sins of commission, omission, disposition or wrong assumptions can lead to feelings of discouragement. John writes, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to figure our sins and to cleanse us from all righteousness." We all sin in conscious and unconscious ways, but by asking God for forgiveness and cleansing of our mind we are given an upbeat view of everything.
9. Many leaders, friends or family members may discourage us if we let them. Some of our dearest loved ones will break your heart if you let, but don't allow them. Jesus said, "A man's enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. . . anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matt. 10:36-39)
10. Hardships are part of following Jesus Christ as our Lord. God's grace is sufficient for any discouraging situation to give us an abundant supply of Christ's encouragement.