If your home has a cloud of discouragement hanging over it, you need some real help to be free. A woman at our Bible study meeting shared her personal struggle with depression, pointing out that Jesus came to heal and help our hurt. She shared this beautiful verse from Isaiah 61:3, describing how God, through His Son, wants to "provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."
I love that! God replaces the ashes we "wear" in grieving with a crown of beauty. He replaces mourning with gladness, despair with praise. People who are totally discouraged can become strong pillars of His righteousness as He lifts us up!Wow! Real help comes from God, but He gives us direction for how to experience peace and joy = encouragement. Yesterday I gave you some home tips; today I want to give you ideas in your own "hands."
There are steps we can take with our own "hands" to replace our discouragement with joy:
Spiritually: My discouragement is usually linked to something in my life not lining up with God's standard; "I'm dirty" somewhere. To root out the scum, I need to examine my heart and ask for God's help to see where I need to change. (Phil. 3:15-16)
Practically: My discouragement is usually heavier if I let actual dirt build up. Instead of telling myself I'm too busy to "get it together," I need to take an hour (or a morning or a day) and take some steps to clean up my mess: Throw away paper clutter. Make a bag to take to the Goodwill. Clear out the fridge (scary!). Spend 20 minutes reorganizing my drawers. Take one step to "cleaning up" your life. (Psalm 51:1-7)
There really are Biblical reasons for this, but I'm just going to leave it at this: Food is one of God's gifts to us that meets our physical needs, but also feeds our senses. The smells and colors and textures and nutrients of good food go a long way to help us be the people we need to be. In a home where discouragement hangs low, cooking a simple, healthy, hot meal is a great tool for encouragement. (Prov. 31:14-15)
Controlling - Many lives held captive by discouragement are out of control. Good things/God's things are more likely to happen if we plan for them to happen. Do you use a calendar? If you want to experience encouragement, I really believe you have to use a planning tool. If you don't, life will eventually sweep over you. A simple calendar or planner is a tool to help plan for healthy eating, prioritize important events, and make room for encouragement in your life. Don't have one? This is a great time of year to start. (Psalm 20:4-5)
Caring - It's hard to lift our eyes from our own discouragement to care about others, but it's a wonderful way to change our perspective and resist the urge to isolate ourself. Yes, care about yourself, but also care about the people you live with, the people around you, and others who are discouraged and in need. (Philippians 2:4)
When Paul was challenging his discouraged friends about how to live Up From the Dumps, he told them he knew he hadn't succeeded in achieving knowing and living like Christ completely; he still wrestled with the things of this life. However, he told them he was still striving, still pressing on, still keeping his eyes on upward living. He urged them to do the same and to "hold true to what we have attained," (Phil. 3:16) to what they had already learned. Don't get discouraged and be defeated. (Phil. 3:12-16)
If your discouragement has overflowed onto the floor of your home and others are feeling it, it's time to take steps to free yourself and your home from the mess. You don't have to have a total home makeover in a day, but you can start by taking a single step of Christ-like living in practical ways. Where can you start right now? If you go take one step to clean, cook, control, or care in the next 30 minutes, you'll be more likely to take another step ... and another ... and another, until you have started a new pattern.
There is real help for our discouragement right in our own hands! Praying that when your heart is heavy, you will reach out and let the Lord lift you Up From the Dumps.