Defeating Discouragement

Promise of Deliverance

After about 400 years of being in Egypt, God sends Moses to deliver the Israelites. The Egyptians respond to Moses’ announcement by increasing the work the Israelite slaves had to do each day.

After this, God tells Moses to remind the Israelites that He promised to deliver them. He tells Moses to remind them about His covenant with them (Exodus 6:2-4). Unfortunately, the Israelites do not respond positively to this reminder.

“So Moses told the people what the Lord had said, but they wouldn’t listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the increasing burden of their slavery.” (Exodus 6:9)

Their present circumstances so discouraged them, they could no longer hear God.

Defeated by Discouragement

We too can become so discouraged (beaten down in spirit) because of what we see as impossible burdens that we cannot hear from God anymore.

An unsaved loved one. A rebellious child. Bad luck. Lack of progress. Physical illness. Mental illness.

The circumstances of life can wear us down and often lead to us no longer hearing God. As the discouragement increases, we sometimes become convinced it will never end.

Or, we might still hear God speaking, but we let those who are discouraged impact our response to His voice.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go back to Pharaoh, and tell him to let the people of Israel leave Egypt.’

‘But Lord!’ Moses objected. ‘My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect  Pharaoh to listen? I’m no orator!’ (Exodus 6:10-12)

To many, staying enslaved seems easier than going through the process leading to freedom. Getting out from under discouragement is hard work, and the unknown often feels more uncomfortable than the known even if the known is not good.

Defeating Discouragement

When we get too easily taken up by our troubles that we no longer believe God’s promises, discouragement has the upper hand. But Scripture offers several steps for getting out from under the blinding burden of discouragement.

  1. Admit dependence. Realize you can do nothing without God. (John 15:5 & Psalm 62:5)
  2. Focus on facts over feelings. Feelings are often blind guides. Refuse to indulge them and always remember that focus determines reality. (2 Corinthians 1:20 & 4:17-18)
  3. Receive comfort. Don’t deprive yourself of the comfort God makes available through His Word and His divine care and direction. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 & John 14:26)

The fact is that discouragement often grows before it dissipates. That’s life. It’s also why we cannot depend on ourselves or our feelings to relieve our discouragement.

“In the process of deliverance, things often get worse before they get better. ‘Anguish of spirit and cruel bondage’ (Exodus 5:9) often restricts us from hearing and receiving what would help us live.” (Dick Brogden, Live Dead Joy, January 19th)

Refuse to let circumstances steal your focus. Refuse to let feelings dictate activity. Choose to live based on the secure and enduring promises of God.

The Benefits of Time Travel

5-28-13 time

 

Even though time travel Men in Black, Back to the Future and H.G. Wells style only exists in science fiction doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, a recent travel through time brought me significant and much-needed perspective.

The Past

While visiting my dentist, I realized the office remains stuck in the 1980s. While he uses up-to-date equipment for the actual dental work, the office lacks any semblance of modern décor.

The high school office, 1980s style phone sits on the receptionist’s desk next to the cardboard record cards and spiral schedule book. As I sat in the waiting room, I heard her typing on an electric typewriter reminisce of high school typing class. And all of this happens within the walls of a modified 1980s ranch house.

Going to my dentist reminds me of “the good ‘ole days.” It reminds me of pre-internet, actually pre-computer, times when instant access meant using the telephone. Those days involved more face-to-face conversation in what now seems to be a much simpler time.

The Future

After leaving the dentist, I visited my grandma who now lives with my mom. While visiting her brings back fond childhood memories, my potential future grabs my attention. I know genetics only loads the gun and life choices pull the trigger, but I still wonder how much of myself I see when I look at my grandmother and receive only a distant stare and sometimes an irrelevant comment.

Will I someday walk in circles with my hands doing what they did 40 years ago? Are my kids facing a future where they must care for me as I cared for them when they were young? Am I going to one day forget half of my life and only remember bits and pieces that make no sense put together?

The Present

In just one hour, thoughts of the past and my potential future collided in a way that propelled me to actively consider how I got where I am today and where I seem to be headed tomorrow. I needed to note the positives and negatives and consider how both created my current reality and what needs to happen for me live an increasingly deliberate present.

God’s Promises

Knowing the timelessness of God and that He was, is and always will be (Revelation 1:8) brings a sense of purpose to my past and a hope for an abundant future. Studying His promises, which extend through time and still live for you and me to grasp today, creates intense motivation to increasingly know His presence in my present.

Consider Isaiah 43:18-19 and the wisdom it provides for how we should view our past, present and future.

 “Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (AMP)

These words encourage me to not linger on the past with its mistakes and could-have-beens. They help prevent an obsession with a future that only He knows and that I must simply let Him hold in His hands. And they refocus my present on what He’s doing now and on what He wants me to “give heed.”

In bringing these promises to mind, God re-establishes my heart where He wants it. Thursday’s post,  “God’s Perspective on Time Travel,” takes a deeper look at how to balance our perspectives on our past, present and future.

DISCUSSION: How does reflecting on your past and considering your future impact your present?

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