“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV)
Discouragement is an all too common emotion witnessed in today’s stress-filled culture. The apparent lack of godly leadership, the further erosion of moral values, and the increase in crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, and pornography cause many to despair. The negativity projected from the liberal media also produces much anxiety for those seeking hope and encouragement.
The writer of Psalm 42 was feeling low when he wrote this Psalm. He wondered, “Where are you, God? Have you forgotten me?” Yet somehow the Psalmist, most likely King David, was able to praise God in the dark times.
We all have faced times of discouragement; times when we wondered if God is really watching over us. Some even face extended periods of depression. Such was the case for Cleopas and one other disciple as they walked along the road to Emmaus right after the crucifixion of Christ. These disciples were dejected, confused, angered, and frustrated. Their despair was apparent in their words.
One of them, named Cleopas, asked him [the stranger walking in their midst], “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see. Luke 24:18-24 (NIV)
The man who they were speaking to was Jesus. He was in His glorified body and the disciples didn’t initially recognize Him as the risen Messiah. Jesus responded to their questions and concerns with the following statement, He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” Luke 24:25-26 (NIV)
Later that day Jesus revealed himself to them. Their discouragement and disappointment quickly transitioned into joy. They once again had hope and faith.
When we find ourselves slipping into the zone of depression, doubt, confusion, or fear Scripture reminds us to do the following:
- Read and believe upon God’s word. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
- Remember God’s goodness. He is faithful and loves to give His children good gifts. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
- The Holy Spirit is our living water. Keep filled with the nurturing effects of a spirit-filled life. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” Luke 4:18 (NIV)
- Pray that God will intervene in your situation and have faith that He can and still does miracles. “Pray continually;” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)
- Praise God for what He has done in the past and remember His faithfulness.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.” Daniel 2:20 (NIV)
- Dwell upon His goodness and mercy. “Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.” Psalm 25:6 (NIV)
Are you discouraged or know someone who is having difficulty with issues in their life? Why not pass along this devotional and begin praying for God’s miracle?
Hebrews 3:13 reminds us, “But encourage one another daily”. Who needs a hug or word of encouragement from you today?
[Photo courtesy of LumoProject.com]