I usually want to blame it on the weather. Sometimes, just to avoid getting in a rut, I blame it on other people or "my stuff" or my work .. or the other people and stuff in my work. ;) But ultimately, discouragement is an issue of the heart.
Only God knows what's really in my heart, and nothing is hidden from Him. That's why He has the right to say He can lift me from the mire and mud of my discouragement and put me back on solid ground (Psalm 40:1-3). When something is heavy, it drags on you, makes you tired, slows you down, robs you of joy, and keeps you captive while you drag it around. And all of that "dis-courages" us ... the opposite of giving courage = against courage.
To get Up From the Dumps we have to go back to our hearts, because "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man" (Prov. 27:19). See a discouraged gal, and she has a discouraged heart.
We're supposed to serve God with ALL of our heart. The Old Testament is filled with evidence of people who turned their hearts away from God, loving other things instead of Him, only to find they were empty and unfulfilling = discouraged. On the flip side, the Bible shows us over and over how seeking God leads to an encouraged heart characterized by peace and joy:
1 Chron. 16:10 ~ Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. (More rejoicing, less dump talking!)
Psalm 16:8-10 ~ I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure... (Not being shaken sounds a lot better than instability and insecurity!)
Psalm 28:7 ~ The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Are you discouraged? Can you see yourself trusting, leaping, and getting help?)
Real help for our hearts means turning to God's source of help and peace: His Word. It seems so simple, but we often leave out what we need most. Here are a few ideas for building God's Word into our days:
- Get your tools ready for some quiet time. Read here for ideas to help make it more "doable" and more likely to become a regular pattern. Satan is ready to discourage you, so prepare to have God's thoughts on hand to guide your days. Click here for resources about developing a quiet time.
- Include elements like these in your quiet time: Bible reading, memorizing, journaling, reading.Our hearts need the good "spiritual food" of God's truth. We can't live "Up From the Dumps" without it for long! If you find it hard to carve out (Yes, it is intentional. You won't just find yourself sitting with nothing to do and an open Bible) time, click here for Part 1 of two posts on how to overcome that challenge.
- Let prayer relieve your heart & give you rest. Prayer is conversation with One who knows our hearts best. It feeds an attitude of thanksgiving, trust, and peace. If you're in a pit of discouragement, I highly recommend writing some short prayers in a plain spiral notebook. Don't write long, but write often. Check here for resources on growing your prayer life.
- Let God use music to comfort and strengthen your heart. Music is the voice of praise, and playing spiritually minded, truth filled music steers our thoughts to good things. If you are blessed with Christian radio, play it. If not, there are many online sources that provide Christian music. Click here for a great example.
What can you do today to "live up?" Give a little attention to your Bible reading supplies, add a new element into your spiritual feeding, spend some time writing a prayer, or turn to music that really fills your heart?
Psalm 73:26 ~ My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Tomorrow let's look at 4 Real Ways to Create Encouragement at Home.