Kite over Jamaica Beach - Galveston, TX

Why are you discouraged?

Last week was one of those weeks that makes you want to crawl into a corner and cry your eyes out. Have you ever had a week like that? Where just about everything goes wrong? And even in the moments where things go right, you’re afraid to trust it because you’re just waiting for the bottom to drop out from under you? Yeah. It was that kind of week. And, honestly, this week isn’t shaping up to be much better. I hope it is, but I’m not expecting much improvement.

So what do you do when you’re already discouraged and you’re trapped in disheartening circumstances? What do you do when none of it seems to make sense and every time you try to fix your life, you just seem to make it worse? What do you do?

Stop and praise God for it. 

Kite over Jamaica Beach - Galveston, TX

Kite over Jamaica Beach – Galveston, TX

Psalm 42 

As the deer longs for streams of water,
    so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
    while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

My heart is breaking
    as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
    leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
    amid the sound of a great celebration!

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged,
    but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
    from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
    as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
    and through each night I sing his songs,
    praying to God who gives me life.

“O God my rock,” I cry,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies?”
Their taunts break my bones.
    They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

Perspective is one of the most important parts of living a Christian life. If you don’t keep a true perspective of who God is and who you are and what your purpose is, it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to get tripped up. And once you start tripping, it’s not too long before you take a tumble. But even if you have the right perspective, you can still end up in a place where all you can see is darkness. But even then, if you can keep your perspective and recognize it for what it is, you’ll still have joy, even if you aren’t necessarily happy about it.

Verses 5 and 11 out of Psalm 42 say the same thing:

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

It’s also repeated in Psalm 43:5. The Bible doesn’t just repeat things for lyrical value. Yes, the Psalms are songs, and this makes a wonderful little tune (remember the song “Why So Downcast, O My Soul”? Guess where that came from). But practically speaking, whenever you see something repeated in Scripture, you need to pay attention.

So when you start trying to get your perspective right, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself why you’re discouraged. Try to identify what it is that’s got you down. And then, once you’ve figured out, put your hope in God to straighten it out. Do what you can and let it go.

I love how the Message says this:

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s okay to feel down. But it’s not okay to let your perspective slip.

When everything is going wrong, that’s the time to praise louder than before. When it feels like your world is falling apart, that’s the time to put your whole focus on God and what He is doing and what He can do and what He has done. When you’re so discouraged that you can barely function, that’s the moment to thank God for everything He has done for you. And if you can do all that, you’ll find something amazing happens.

Even though your circumstances haven’t necessarily changed, even though you still have all the same problems as before, you’ll be smiling about it. Not because you’re in denial and not because you’re childishly ignoring the facts, but because your heart will remember who God is and that no circumstance is bigger than He is.