I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about how it seems that so many people are living in sadness and discouragement when he mentioned something that really made me think. He said that it was impossible to be depressed and walk in the joy of God’s presence at the same time. After our conversation, I continued to ponder this statement and by the way, I do agree with it. I’m not saying that developing an optimistic lifestyle is easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I definitely believe it’s possible. Since a healthy relationship with the Lord is measured according to the level of our spiritual joy, a lifestyle of encouragement will have everything to do with changing the way we think. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 42:11).
Like the Psalmist, there are times when we allow sadness to lead us down the road of discouragement. I use the word allow because joy and sadness are attitudes of the mind which we choose. How can we live in victory if we are always planning for defeat? I’m still learning that it’s up to me whether I accept the misery of fear and worry or become determined to focus on God and find refuge under the shadow His presence. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can decide how we will respond. When I’ve been too busy to pray, study or worship the Lord, my faith turns to doubt as I begin to lose my confidence that He will take care of my problems and needs. When we drift away from the security of His love and peace, we are vulnerable to the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and discouragement from mistakes and sins we have committed. The dark side will sniff out our failures and attempt to bring guilt and condemnation to remind us of what we could and should have done. The enemy of our soul never takes a vacation and is devoted to tempt us to be depressed for the missed opportunities we have blown and wrong decisions we have made. I know there are many faithful workers in the kingdom of God that are tired and disappointed and often they do not feel appreciated in their calling, but the Lord sees your labor and His definition of success is not the same as the world.
There is nothing more wonderful than to know the call and will of God and to be walking in it, but I must include if there is anything that can deter us from following Jesus – it will definitely try. “For the Lord God can help me; therefore shall I not be confounded [confused] therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed” Isaiah 50:7. Setting our face like flint is declaring a message to the world that we are dedicated to becoming who God has called us to be. Flint is a very hard substance and in the time of our trials, the strategy is to stand strong and not allow doubt or fear to influence or persuade us to surrender. The Lord is longing to give us the stability and perseverance we need to accomplish His plans, but He is also depending on us to become committed in our faith. God’s river of joy is available anytime and is calling for us to wade out into the deeper waters of His presence. We are invited to be saturated in His Spirit and bask in His glory if this is what we really want. Unfortunately, many are relaxing in their lounge chairs at “poolside” and only stick their toes in the water occasionally when the stress and anxiety brings discomfort or when a crisis comes upon them. The best way to maintain a positive attitude is to pray and study God’s word daily which renews our mind and keeps us sensitive to His thoughts and demonstrating His character. If Jesus is our vine and we are the branches, His nature and attributes are flowing within us. He wants to give you His strength and hope today and His peace and encouragement for your way. We know we are to believe in Him, but when is the last time you considered that He believes in you?
Dr. Holland is a Christian minister, author, and community outreach chaplain. To read more articles and stories or to request a free copy of his new CD at: billyhollandministries.com
Ask for a free copy of the scripture CD, “keeper of my Soul” and learn about Billy’s brand-new book, “Convictions and considerations – Encouragement for the Soul” at: billyhollandministries.com