Psalm 43:5 NIVUK

Sometimes we can feel trapped in a cycle of sadness and hopelessness. We are not sure how to deal with how we feel, or how to escape the overwhelming thoughts and emotions. In Psalm 43, the psalmist is feeling down and discouraged, and writes: ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?’ When we feel trapped by our negative emotions, we can forget all the good things in our lives. The blessings that we have can become hidden behind our thoughts and emotions. We can forget that we are loved by God, and that He is good. We forget that He has a plan and purpose for us. We can lose our hope that things can ever get better. But the psalmist goes on to tell himself: ‘Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’ It’s not always going to come naturally to us to hope in God, and praise Him despite the circumstances. Sometimes, like the psalmist, we have to tell our souls to do it. So when things are falling apart in our lives, how can we have hope in God? Firstly, we need to remember His faithfulness in our lives. We need to think of all the times He’s come through for us before, and as we do that we will find our hope rising that He’ll do it again. Secondly, we need to believe that His promises to us are true. We need to trust that these promises will be fulfilled, and that God is working on them right now. When we have that hope in our lives, it’s like an anchor for our souls (take a look at Hebrews 6:19). This anchor keeps our souls firmly held in hope, rather than despair.

Deut 25-27; Matt 13:36-46; Ps 78:65-72; Prov 17:1-2

Get back up (1)

Micah 7:8 NIV

We can all get despondent from time to time. It can happen after we’ve had a great success or victory. Or it can be caused by other people hurting or disappointing us. Or it might be because of a change in our life circumstances, perhaps losing a job or a relationship not working out. We can also feel that way when we don’t get enough rest, proper food, and exercise. We get run down and burned out. Jesus said that Satan comes to ‘steal and kill and destroy’ (John 10:10 NIV). Our peace of mind, joy, and hope for the future can all be stolen from us. But God wants us to experience those things again. And we can. The thing we need to remember is, whatever has caused our despondency, it’s normal to feel that way for a while. But the good news is that we don’t have to stay in that place. The prophet Micah said: ‘For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light’ (Micah 7:8 NLT). Micah acknowledges that times of falling will happen, but recognises that he can rise up from those times and that the light of God will once again illuminate the places where darkness has seeped in. And that’s true for us too. When we feel despondent, we can know that we will rise up again. When the darkness feels overwhelming, we can know that Jesus’ light is strong enough to overcome it. The Bible tells us that, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John 1:5 NIV). When we’ve fallen, God meets us where we are and helps us back up again – we don’t have to do it all in our own strength.

Num 19-21; Mark 3:20-35; Ps 37:16-24; Prov 11:4

The transforming truth about Calvary (3)

Hebrews 9:22 NAS

Third, Calvary was vital! Exactly how vital? As vital as life or death, hope or despair, heaven or hell. It’s our only means of salvation! “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NLT). Without Christ’s death, our sins would have separated us from God forever. But for His death we’d be subject to the full penalty of God’s law, pronounced guilty for every sin we’ve ever committed and as condemned sinners, lost forever. Paul writes, “Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God” (Romans 3:19 NLT). No exceptions – “the entire world,” including you, stands guilty in God’s sight. But because Jesus fulfilled every requirement of God’s law on our behalf, we have been forgiven and declared righteous. That’s vital information. And you only have two options when it comes to Jesus: Accept or reject Him! He said, “Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16 NLT). Jesus’ sacrifice resolved the sin question; now it’s up to you to resolve the Son question: “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22 NKJV). The answer is simple: Put your trust in Him and be saved.

Soul food: Jam 3-5; Luke 23:13-25; Ps 7:10-17; Prov 10:17-18

Dealing with discouragement

Psalms 39:7 NLT

When we go through tough times, we can end up feeling discouraged. We may feel like giving up because the situation is too overwhelming or seems never-ending. Instead, we need to try and view our discouragement as an opportunity for growth. But how do we do that? Firstly, we need to admit how we feel. That doesn’t mean we have to sit around in self-pity or negativity; it means trusting God enough to acknowledge how we really feel. Pretending things are fine when they’re not, doesn’t help us in the long run. It’s not unusual to feel this way, so we shouldn’t feel ashamed. Throughout the Bible, we see people struggle with the same feelings. The psalmist asked God to help him cope with despondency (have a read of Psalm 42 and 43). And at one point Paul was under so much pressure he ‘despaired of life itself’ (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV). Secondly, we need to identify the source. Discouragement often comes after a setback or disappointment. Did something we set our hearts on fall apart? Did somebody let us down? Thirdly, it’s a good idea to talk about it to someone we trust. That may be someone in our family, our church, or a counsellor. Solomon said, ‘The more wise counsel…the better your chances’ (Proverbs 11:14 MSG). Sometimes we can find it hard to open up to others, because we worry about what they’ll think of us. But talking to the right people can help us feel less alone. Finally, we need to put our hope in God. David said, ‘Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.’ When our hope is in God, He replaces discouragement with confidence so that what we’re going through can help us to grow spiritually.

Exo 16-18; Luke 12:35-48; Ps 66:13-20; Prov 6:23-25

Getting through your “nighttime experiences”

Psalm 30:5 NKJV

God is with us during our “nighttime experiences.” Think about it; you’ve been knocked down, but by God’s grace you’ve gotten back up. No matter how dark the night, you’ve lived to see the morning. Times change and relationships change, but God is always the same. He’s the one who brought you through every difficulty in the past, and He promises to be with you every day of the future. Note the words “joy comes.” That means you will rise again and rejoice again. Your drive to survive comes from a well that’s already within you, and the Lord is the One who fills that well. Let it flow! You don’t have to make it flow, just let it flow. Sixteenth-century English clergyman and historian Dr. Thomas Fuller said, “If it were not for hope, the heart would break.” No matter what you’re going through right now, don’t give up until you see the morning. It’s at the end of every dark night and every broken promise – and it always comes. After every setback, betrayal, and denial – morning will surely break. Let nothing keep you from believing that! God will dry your tears and you’ll awake with a new song. One of the greatest promises in Scripture is this: “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion…therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him” (Lamentations 3:22-25). Yesterday ended last night. It’s a new day, so make up your mind to enjoy it!

Soul food: Gen 42-43; Luke 10:25-37; Ps 33:1-12; Prov 5:7-14