Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
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We are all at times challenged by the threat of discouragement. It’s a natural consequence of life. Good and bad happens to everyone, regardless of their choices and their relationship, or lack thereof, with God. Romans 2:11 tells us, “For there is no respect of persons with God.” In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said that God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
It’s what we do with the threat of discouragement that powerfully determines our outcome.
Sometimes we get discouraged at what we have or what we must do. Sometimes we get discouraged because of what we don’t have or what we cannot do. This cause of discouragement has much to do with being discontent.
Though we should always seek to be and do better, we are called to be content, regardless of our circumstances. Paul said to the Philippians, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
Earlier in this passage Paul shares the key to being content: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:6-8).
We learn three direct actions we are to take regarding our own contentment and encouragement:
With this thought, let us see that the peace of God is the antithesis to discouragement. At times we all are disappointed and even distressed. Those temporary slides are part of being human. It’s up to us to encourage ourselves in the Lord to not let those lead us to deep, lasting discouragement which causes despair and our inability to obey God and hold on to hope.
I love the account in 1 Samuel 30 of God’s deliverance when David encouraged himself in the Lord after the Amalekites seemed to have the victory; they had taken all the women and children captive and had burned Ziklag, the place where David and his supporters found safety while fleeing King Saul. David’s supporters were now ready to stone him because of their distress. David understood their distress because his family was also taken captive.
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).
David prayed asking God for guidance. Then David obeyed what God led him to do. God gave him a perfect victory. All the women and children were brought back safely, and the troop now had the spoil of the Amalekites to split amongst themselves.
God is always at work for our good. Sometimes it requires us to do what we don’t believe we can before we see the victory, but God always has it waiting for us. God gives us peace when we give our concerns to Him and ask for His protection while focusing on living right in Him instead of trying to undo or do things we cannot. There will always be distractions and distortions of truth. And sometimes we won’t see what is true until we choose to do as God directs.
David sought God’s leadership in his situation when it seemed their loved ones were gone forever, and his followers were ready to kill him. Then David focused his attention and energy to obey what God told him to do. He didn’t let the possibility of what may be stop him from focusing on and obeying God.
Sometimes we feel like giving up but at the same time feel like we are being pushed forward with an energy and enthusiasm only God can give. God won’t give up on us living His purpose to help bring others into the fullness of His relationship with them. We can never find and stamp out all the fires, but we can build our own fire bigger, brighter, stronger through God.
Choosing joy is strategy that became all too real to me when Satan wanted me to believe that my daughter was gone. From a young age she was spiritually oppressed and suffered from multiple mental illnesses and several addictions. She ran away from home at 17. She told lies to authorities and many others attempting to separate herself from the people who loved her most and most tried to help her. She didn’t want to go to rehab, so she ran away.
During the storm of false allegations, court proceedings, and continued addictions, delusion, manipulation, and poor choices by my daughter, I found out that she was only alive because a month earlier, God clotted her blood after she passed out in a suicide attempt when no one was around to help. This precious child was bent on destroying herself and her life. It was purely a satanic attack against one God created and equipped to serve Him in powerful ways.
She ran away the first week in May. I recall crying and feeling the intense pain of trying to understand while standing in Hobby Lobby where my mom took me to pick out something for Mother’s Day and my birthday. I was staring at a sign that said, “I choose joy.” I knew God had that sign there just for me. He was telling me to hold on to truth, no matter how oppositely things appeared. That sign was my gift, and it is in my bathroom where I read it every day. I was so thankful to have my daughter back and knew I still had a very important task ahead of me to show God’s love for this precious soul who was so cast down by satan that she wanted to destroy herself or end her life.
Choose joy. Choose to focus on God no matter what. God is the only source of truth, joy and peace. If we let distractions steal our focus, we are weak and useless; we are disoriented and directionless. We have an important purpose that we can only live when we choose to focus on and take our marching orders from God. During those rough days with my daughter as now, I must focus on God and choose joy to not lose hope. I focus on the truth of the matter, not the smokescreen satan sends to distort reality. Satan sends smokescreens our way often. When he fails, he tries again; he is determined to discourage us. We must be even more determined to stay the course and not let him succeed.
It is of utmost importance that we choose to focus on God instead of all that distorts, distracts, and tries to discourage us. Psalm 57:7 says, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” God inhabits the praises of His people. Psalm 22:3 says, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” A powerful transition occurs when we choose to focus on God and praise Him as our Lord and Savior. He comes alongside us making us able to bear what we thought was too difficult. God energizes and strengthens us to do what is impossible without Him.
In the acrostic Psalm 9, David uses the chiastic structure to contrast the everlasting power of God and His name to the end of the wicked who are wiped out by righteous God. David starts with his declaration to praise God with his whole heart, to show all God’s marvelous works, to be glad and rejoice in the Lord. Then David acknowledges God as a righteous judge and as his source of strength and power against his enemies, the enemies of righteousness.
Let us follow the example of David, a man after God’s own heart, to fix our hearts on God, to praise Him for who He is, to ask for His guidance in our situation, to get up and without questioning, do whatever it is God leads us to do.