In Times of Despair By Dr. Charles Stanley There are devastating times in our lives that stretch everything we know and believe. We are in pain—at times physically, at other times emotionally, and sometimes both. Some of these seasons last much longer than a few days, and the physical strain can take a terrible toll on our emotions. Conversely—when we are continuously despondent and disheartened, our bodies can suffer as well. Frustrations and setbacks bombard us at an alarming rate, undermining our every confidence. Just when we think we will get better, more bad news hits us. We wonder why God would allow all the agony we are experiencing. We ask, “Why me, Lord? Why now?”At the same time, the enemy is doing his best to make us question whether the Father really loves us—bringing up old sins, faults, and mistakes that have already been forgiven, and insinuating they disqualify us from the Lord’s blessings. What makes it even worse is that joy is just outside our reach—and we have no hope of taking hold of it. The sense of loss, helplessness, futility, and dissatisfaction with ourselves can be absolutely overwhelming. Have you ever experienced this? Have you faced the dark depths of despair—wondering if you’ll ever climb out? Have you wondered, Why isn’t the Father helping me? I am trying to serve Him. Why has this situation only gotten worse instead of better? Why doesn’t He heal me? You cry out to Him and He comforts you, but the trial does not end and you cannot understand what He is doing. So you question, Has the Lord failed? Am I so far gone and so intensely damaged that He cannot help me? No, my friend, the Father has not failed you. And the fact that He is still working on you is evidence that not only does He see your great potential, but He also desires to touch the world through you in an astounding way (Heb. 12:4–11). It is in looking to Him that we ultimately have the greatest hope, joy, peace, and freedom. The prophet Isaiah testifies, “Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” (Isa. 30:20–21). When you are able to rely on Him fully, you recognize that regardless of what circumstances you face, your Teacher—your omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and unconditionally loving God—is there to guide you, protect you, and provide for you perfectly. The Challenge of Choice The challenge, of course, is that you must make the choice to trust Him. You must look beyond the painful circumstances—all the evidence you can see, feel, smell, hear, and touch—and realize there is a greater unseen reality, which is the presence of the Living God (2 Cor. 4:16–18). This is not easy, but takes a constant refocus and realignment of your thinking. Everything in your spirit may fight against it, and with good reason. How can you trust One whom you cannot experience with your five senses? Yet to do otherwise is no option at all—the consequences of discouragement are just too great. Therefore, choose to take heart and hope in the Lord. You have almighty God on your side. Invite Him into your life as your Redeemer, Deliverer, Protector, Provider, and Friend. Think about the astounding privilege it is that you can count on Him, and allow it to comfort your aching soul. You can let go of your despair and look forward to the future. You will most likely be absolutely astounded at the plans your heavenly Father has for you. If you will view each difficulty and challenge that comes to you as an opportunity to learn more about your heavenly Father, draw closer to Him in loving fellowship, and be cleansed from your bondage to sin, I guarantee your life will be absolutely transformed (1 Pet. 1:6–7). But how do you do so? How do you maintain your trust in God when you face difficulties and distresses? 1. Allow Signs of Despair to Lead You to Prayer The emotions you’re experiencing are a warning sign to your spirit revealing that you need to turn to God. He is calling you—drawing you into a relationship with Him. Go to Him with an open heart and invite Him to teach you. Ask the Father, “What is it You desire to accomplish in and through me?” Then open your Bible before Him and allow Him to guide you to the truth He desires to teach you. 2. Take Stock of Your Life Are you struggling with weariness, frustration, isolation, or are you eating an unhealthy diet? This may be adding to your despair. Don’t allow the enemy to get a foothold. Rather, recall the acrostic H.A.L.T.—whenever you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, remember to stop, refuel, and seek the Lord’s guidance. God will encourage your heart and give you the ability to endure whatever trouble you may face. And if you face trials, difficulties, or emotions that are too overwhelming to handle on your own, seek godly believers who will support and help you. 3. Commit Yourself to Your Father’s Plans Did you know that one of the biggest gold deposits that was ever excavated in the United States was discovered two inches beneath where a previous miner had given up? We make a terrible mistake when we decide to quit because we fear our circumstances will never change. But friend, God has wonderful plans for your future! I cannot stress enough how important it is to cling to the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength regardless of what happens, with the knowledge that He ultimately provides what is absolutely best for you. The truth of the matter is, sometimes you will not understand why the Father allows certain challenges to touch your life, but with God there is always hope. And there are abundant blessings that you will forfeit if you give in to your discouragement. Don’t miss out on the good things the Father has for you by submitting to despair. Rather, claim Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Devote yourself to the Lord. Keep focused on staying in the center of His will and fulfilling His plans for your life, because He will certainly strengthen you to go on. 4. Embrace Who God Says You Are Often, when we struggle with despair, experience loss, or fail at something important, we attribute our painful feelings to our own sense of worth. We believe that we don’t deserve acceptance or anything good, and it is very difficult to break out of those beliefs because they are so intrinsic to our identity. However, you must accept the reality that how you view yourself is not who you really are. Your perception is incorrect. Rather, the only One who truly understands your potential and worth is the Father, who accepts you, promises to love you unconditionally, and enables you to do all He calls you to do. Zephaniah 3:17 affirms, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Your heavenly Father is committed to winning the battles for you (Ex. 14:14). Therefore, train your eyes on Him, obey His commands, and accept who He created you to be—a vessel who shines with His glory. 5. Praise the Lord You have two choices when you face discouraging circumstances. You can focus on the problems, which will cause you greater despair. Or you can look to God and praise Him for what He is—your absolutely sure Foundation, Everlasting Hope, Mighty Warrior, Perfect Provider, Beloved Counselor, Sovereign King of kings, Incomparable Protector, Great Physician, and Unfailing Friend. You see, dejection and praise cannot coexist in your heart for very long. Because when you gaze on the abundant goodness and mercy of the Father and you voice your sincere thankfulness and adoration to Him, there is no way to maintain a hopeless state. It is an absolute fact: praising God is a bulwark against despair. 6. Do the Lord’s Work Finally, realize that your suffering is never in vain. Adversity not only helps you to know God better but it also trains us for His service to others. This is a principle we can find in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4, which proclaims, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” When you and I find victory over fear, rejection, bitterness, guilt and despair, we become ambassadors the Lord can work through to lead others to freedom. This is because we know how they feel, we can assure them they are not alone, and we will have compassion to walk with them as they pursue healing. An additional benefit of this, of course, is that while we are ministering to others, our focus if off our own troubles. Therefore, overcome your discouragement by offering yourself to God and allowing Him to do His awesome work through you. Friend, no matter what happens in your life, don’t let go of the Savior. Despair doesn’t have to keep you in its grip. You can defeat it by choosing to think about all the Father has given you and the great plans He has for your future. So respond to your feelings of discouragement with prayer and your thoughts of defeat with truth from His Word. Commit yourself to trusting His plan regardless of the circumstances, claim His unfailing promises, cling to His loving presence, and lift your voice in praise to Him. Learn to see the adversity you face as a tool that the Lord is using to do something extraordinary in your life. Then, even in the midst of disheartening challenges, you can be a victor who experiences His supernatural hope, strength, joy, and peace. Excerpt from Emotions: Confront the Lies. Conquer with Truth.
Posted on: Sun, 04 Aug 2013 15:35:21 +0000
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