a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17b)
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Is. 66:2b)
Not much has changed for me in the last week… except that everything changed. I could call it "the tale of two weeks" because it was night and day different from front to back, except that no circumstances actually changed. Let me try to explain.
I started out last week feeling down. I was discouraged with where my church was at, with what was happening in my country, and I was seeing a lot of negative thinking affecting all of us. So what did I do about it? I stewed. I ruminated about how bad it was and figured that it would probably get worse. I got discouraged. Because that's an uncomfortable place to be in for several days, I also started to avoid life and try to escape through playing as much video games as I possibly could. Checking out of life is usually my default setting when things get hard and I'm not dealing with it properly.
After several days of this, I finally brought myself around to talk about it with God, who so graciously and gently kicked my butt about it. You see, I wasn't doing all of the things that I know lead to a healthy, hopeful mental state. I wasn't focusing on the God who can do all things, instead I was focusing on how bad things were getting. I wasn't thinking of what God has done in the past and can do in the future. I wasn't laying down the things that I have no control over at God's feet, for Him to do something about. Instead, I was taking them on as my own problems and then feeling helpless to do anything about them. Not a recipe for success.
In my discussion with God He reminded me of all of these things, I repented for my faulty thinking and gave my problems back over to Him. In a moment, hope flooded back. Peace flooded back. I was moving forward with purpose again. I wasn't trapped and powerless to do anything about it, I was powerful to handle the problems that were mine and powerful enough to ask God to handle the problems I couldn't take care of. Nothing had actually changed in my week, but the way I was processing it all was radically changed. It was a night and day difference.
Our response to situations usually dictates the options we think we have. If I respond to a problem by being discouraged, it usually means that I don't think any of my options are good or that there's no way forward. Discouragement feels like the logical course. In fact, it almost feels downright wise. However, feelings are usually a terrible indicator of truth. There is always hope. There is always a way, because Jesus made a way.
I've been reading up in the Bible of how various people responded to trials that came their way. People who were overwhelmed with their problem or tried to figure out a way on their own inevitably get discouraged and are usually unsuccessful in anything that they try. The people in the Bible who accomplish great things usually have the same first response that sets them up for success. They start with humility and a recognition before God of their need. Then, strengthened and empowered by God to do what they can and leave Him the rest, they move forward with hope. Suddenly God begins to move and great things happen. But this only happened because they began to see a different set of options that God laid before them because of their response of humility.
Take Nehemiah, for instance. He heard a report about the wall of Jerusalem being broken down and it’s gates burned with fire, so what did he do? He fasted and prayed that God would do something about it. God sent him, gave him favour with the king, and he ended up accomplishing a great work despite opposition and various trials. Look at King Josiah. They find the book of the law in the temple that had been polluted and unused for an entire generation. The book is read to the king and he tears his robes, recognizes the nation’s sin, and prays to God. Because of this, the entire nation comes back to God and disaster is staved off until the next generation. God will always respond to a heart that is seeking Him. They had more options because they sought God and He intervened.
When trials, discouragement, and difficult times come upon you (and believe me, they will), go to God and lay them before Him. With Him there is always hope. He’s the God who can do more than we ask or imagine. (Eph 3:20) He is the God of the impossible. (Matt 19:26) He ends up giving you more options than you even thought were possible, simply because you sought Him.
If ever you need help working through a situation like this, that’s what the church exists for. We help and encourage each other through these times. You can always reach out to us at email@example.com or 403-660-0860