Devastated? Disappointed? Discouraged? Depressed? Do you want to have hope but struggle to see any positive right now? Do you feel like you have no control over your life anymore? Do you feel helpless?

Maybe you feel like you obeyed God, yet your circumstances make you feel like you’ve gotten it all wrong. Or perhaps you try to encourage and support others but just feel leaned on to the point of falling over.

Everyone has feelings like these from time to time. God never promised that life this side of Heaven would be easy. He did, however, tell us to have courage anyway.

“In the world you will have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” (John 16:33, AMP)

Courage during tribulation and distress and suffering may seem impossible, and it is if we focus on that which is causing the tribulation and distress and suffering. However, you’ll notice that Jesus tells us to have courage – to be confident, undaunted, and filled with joy – because he has overcome the world. In other words, focusing on him leads to courage even amidst the struggles of life.

Making Progress

Another way to describe focusing on Jesus and his abiding (i.e., continuing without change; enduring; steadfast) victory over the world is to consider what it means to lean or depend on him. Or you can ask, as I often do, how you can make progress and live in his abiding victory when you feel like falling over.

When I first face a trial – size does not matter – my feelings usually hijack my thinking. This happens quickly, too, and I often find myself overwhelmed and overreacting before I realize either is happening.

A daily habit of prayer and getting into God’s word has been the best way for me to come to terms with my feelings and to instead lean on God. Sometimes this happens right away; sometimes, it takes a few days or even weeks.

What I’ve learned, though, is that the Holy Spirit is always there to remind me to lean on God. Gradually, as I tune into the Holy Spirit’s leading, leaning on God sooner rather than later and as more of a continual habit rather than last resort tactic is becoming more natural.

Leaning on God

The idea of leaning on God comes to us many ways in the Bible. Here are just a few of them.

  • Exodus 14:14 – Keep silent. Let God be God.
  • Psalm 23 – Follow God. He restores, comforts, and removes fear.
  • Psalm 40; Isaiah 40:31– Wait patiently. Move through life without weariness.
  • Psalm 56; Proverbs 3:5-6; 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 – Trust God, not your own understanding.
  • Psalm 91 – Dwell with God. He protects, answers, rescues, and more.
  • Psalm 118:5-6 – Call on God. He will answer.
  • Psalm 121 – Look up! God will steady, protect, and guard you.
  • Matthew 6:25-34 – Don’t worry. God will meet your needs.
  • Romans 5:3-5 – Celebrate during trials. Let God develop your character.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 – Pray about everything. Be thankful.
  • Hebrews 13:6 – Be confident in help from God.

These and many, many other verses help me to overcome defeatist thinking where one bad area or situation bleads into my thinking about every area of life, and I end up feeling like every area is wrapped up in that one bad thing. They also help me to avoid focusing my absolutes on that which I can’t control and instead focusing them on the one who is absolutely in control.

When I read these references in full, I am reminded to readjust my attitude, actions, and words. Those adjustments, for me, regularly include:

  1. Focusing on facts over feelings.
  2. Remembering that waiting is often active.
  3. Refusing to let my circumstances define me.
  4. Staying obedient.
  5. Spending significant time in God’s word.
  6. Avoiding saying and doing things I’ll regret.
  7. Remembering that God is with me even when I don’t feel like he is.
  8. Directing every thought toward God.
  9. Staying confident in his help because he promises it.
  10. Making seeking him intentional because it doesn’t happen otherwise.

These are the ways leaning on God have become real in my life. They are what I need constantly reminded of to have courage in a world that daily seeks to sap it from me. They are what it means for me to lean on God.