DEALING WITH DISCOURAGEMENT: A 2020 survival guide


I started my 2020 survival guide with the post “Faith, Hope and Love.” It was followed in short order by “Finding Faith”, “Building Faith” and “Walking by Faith”. It was time to start writing about hope. Yet every time I sat down to write, the words were like a classroom of unruly 2-year olds on a massive sugar high. IF I could find the words, I couldn’t get them to sit still long enough to form a coherent sentence.

The truth is, I was having trouble writing about hope, because I was having trouble finding hope. I had already hit the proverbial wall with the COVID situation. Social distancing and being separated from family and friends had worn thin. Then came the murder of George Floyd. That was more than I could handle. In the wake of all 2020 had dished out I found myself struggling with a onslaught of negative emotions.

I don’t experience discouragement often. This time however, I just couldn’t shake off the negative emotions that were overwhelming me. I found myself getting ground down by 2020 and all its fallout. I was relating a little too much with Job’s outcry; “Where now is my hope?Will it go down with me into Sheol? Shall we go down together in the dust?” (Job 17:15.)

We are facing a LOT of challenges. Apart from the health concerns, there is the financial impact of all this on families, businesses and the country. There is tremendous uncertainty about what life will be like on the other side of COVID. The stresses on marriages and families can be overwhelming. There are arguments about everything from public health and safety versus economic recovery, to the ‘correct’ response to racial injustice. These arguments are being expressed at VOLUME. Conflict is everywhere. People are angry. Some are expressing their anger violently. It’s all disheartening! It steals hope.

What do we do when hope feels this elusive? 

No matter how long all this lasts or how tough it gets, our answer is in the LORD and His promises! 

“So now we must cling tightly to the Hope that LIVES WITHIN US, knowing that God ALWAYS keeps His promises!” (Heb. 10:23) emphasis added 

PROMISE #1 – He is our hope.

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him,” (Lam. 3:25).  He has good plans for us, plans for hope and a future of hope and prosperity (Jer 29;11) 

When I started asking Why are you downcast O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?”, the answer was Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God”(Ps. 42:5).

We can face the challenges and uncertainties with confidence by trusting God “with all our heart.” When we lean on His understanding rather than our own, we have the assurance of His wisdom. “He will direct and make [our] path[s] straight and plain.” (Prov. 3:5-6) 

PROMISE #2 – He is our refuge.

“God is our Refuge and Strength, mighty and impenetrable. A very present and well proved help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1)

When we begin to feel hopeless in the face of all the stresses and uncertainties of 2020, we need to seek the refuge that can be found in God alone. His compassions are new every morning and his faithfulness is unending! (Lam 3:22-23P)

PROMISE #3 – He is our comfort.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the GOD OF ALL COMFORT, who comforts us in ALL OUR TROUBLES so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4) emphasis added

We can find comfort and consolation for the losses and disappointments 2020 has brought in its wake because Jesus is a High priest who KNOWS and UNDERSTANDS our human frailty and needs, from the inside out. Because He has shared in our weaknesses and infirmities, He knows what we are going through. (Heb. 4:15) When we seek comfort in Him, we can learn to be content in all circumstances because in Him, we will know the secret of facing any circumstance, even 2020. (Phil 4:11)

 

 

WATER FOR A THIRSTY SOUL

Photo by Daniel Watson from PexelsPhoto by Daniel Watson


I love rain. I love the sound, the smell. I love standing in a gentle rain on a warm summer day.

Listening to the patter of rain on my porch I began to contemplate the nature of water. Water is really amazing stuff.  You can drink it, wash in it, use it to put out fires. It makes plants grow and carves canyons through solid rock. It’s as tiny as a drop of rain and as big as the ocean. It’s a gentle shower or a mighty torrent overwhelming everything in its path.

Water is crucial to our survival, more critical than food. A human being can go about three weeks without food. We will only last three DAYS without water. Water sustains life. We spend the first part of our lives floating in it as God knits us together in our mother’s womb.

Water can take life as well. I lived near the beautiful Clear Creek River, a crystal-clear river flowing down from the peaks of the Colorado Rockies. It’s as dangerous as it is beautiful. It runs fast and the current is strong. In addition, the river hides boulders and pockets of strong undertow. Every year someone would disappear on the river only to reappear days later when the river’s under tow released their bodies. As much as I was in awe of the beauty of that river, I had a healthy respect for its power.

The nature of water is similar to the nature of God. He is water for the thirsty soul. He washes us through the Word until we are as white as snow. He quenches the flaming arrows of the enemy. He causes our faith to grow. He carves through the stony heart of sin to restore the years the locus ate. He is the still small voice and the creator of the universe who flooded the earth and shakes its foundations.

He sustains our lives. Going more than three days without Him can be deadly. He desires a relationship with us that is as intimate and vital as our relationship to the water in the womb. When we come to know God, we are in awe of His beauty and have a healthy respect for His power.

This is a season where understanding the nature of God can truly be water for a thirsty soul. As things change on a seemingly daily basis it can feel like being swept away in the current of a strong river. The stresses of working from home and managing children, family and finances in this COVID dominated atmosphere can feel like being sucked into an undertow. The pressure on marriages can increase the frequency and intensity of marital conflict until it feels like you have slammed into a hidden boulder.

Thankfully we have a God who able to care for our needs no matter the season. If we place our trust and hope in the Lord, we “shall be like a tree planted by waters which spreads out its roots by the river and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green”. We need not be “be anxious in [this] year of drought, nor will  [we] cease from yielding fruit” (Jer. 17:8 NKJV). When we believe in Him “rivers of living water will burst out from within [us], flowing from [our] innermost being just like scripture says!” (John 7:38 TPT)

FINDING FAITH; a 2020 survival guide


alex-woods- faith that never fails

Photo by Alex Woods


So how do we find a faith worth taking the leap for?

For me, that faith was found through the actions of another. When someone demonstrated UNDESERVED love to me, it gave me something REAL to put my faith in. I found a faith that will NEVER fail because I found the One whose very nature DEFINES what it is to BE faithful!

For most of us it is easy to love people who love us. However, when we are hurt or betrayed, love becomes a challenge. Loving an enemy seems almost impossible. Everyone experiences times when love is a hard-fought act of will! The thing is, loving others the way God loves us, has the potential to change their lives. My Dad exemplified this kind of love.

My biological father was a violent and abusive alcoholic. My parents were divorced when I was 7. My mother has mental illness issues and suspect taste in men. Following the divorce, a parade of very abusive men came in and out of our lives. By the time I was 12, I had become accustomed to managing the dangers these men posed. When my mom remarried, everything changed.

In my experience, no matter how nice men were in the beginning, abuse was always just a miss-step away, hidden behind the smile. As a result, I was horrible to my mother’s new husband in a way only an abused, distrustful 12-year-old can be. I flatly refused to talk to him. I was deliberately disobedient and spiteful. I encouraged my sisters to be disobedient. Even though I sat next to him at dinner, I wouldn’t look at him or pass food.

After six weeks of silent warfare, I finally condescended to speak. In my most sarcastic voice I asked: ” So what are we supposed to call you? Uncle Chuck?” I grabbed the seat of my chair and braced for the blow I was certain was coming. He met my defiant gaze, and lovingly said: “I don’t know, but I would like it if you called me Dad.”

In that moment I experienced the full weight of God’s grace. I broke! Later that evening I asked my Dad how he could treat me with such love when all I had given him was contempt. In response, he introduced me to the faith that has sustained me through thick and thin; faith in Christ Jesus.

I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and I have given my life to God. The relationship that has been forged in this act of faith has enabled me to have hope in whatever situation I find myself in because I know I am not alone. I KNOW that the One who walks beside me is FAITHFUL in ALL things. God is ALWAYS with me guiding, protecting and cherishing me. God is my comfort, my wisdom, my teacher and so much more! He enables me to manage whatever life throws at me and brings good and joy out of it all!


God is faithful, reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on; by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:9 AMP (emphasis added)


God is calling us into a relationship , into companionship with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. This RELATIONSHIP of faith is open to EVERYONE. Simply pray:

Lord God, I am a sinner. Please forgive me of my sin. Help me turn away from sin and follow you. I surrender my heart to you. I believe you are Lord of all creation. I believe you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin and you rose from the dead to conquer death. Come into my heart and be Lord of my life. Amen (Romans 10:9-10)