9 Ways to Encourage YourselfAs we walk this ancient path together, though our stories are all different, may we also encourage ourselves in the Lord as David did.
I should have seen it coming, but since I needed new glasses and hindsight is 20/20, I didn’t. The downward spiral happened little by little. Sighs replaced words. Motivation was missing. Joy, a distant memory. One morning, with Tony the Tiger as my witness, I realized that my life wasn’t nearly as sweet as my Frosted Flakes.
Life happens. Two simple words that are universally understood. Our inner Eeyore takes center stage and suddenly happy is on hiatus and we don’t know how to get back up on our feet again, nor do we have the energy to do so.
When David and his men returned to Ziklag in 1 Samuel to discover that all their wives and children had been taken captive and the city burned, despair set in. The men even talked of stoning David, because someone must pay, right?
David was down, but he didn’t stay down. “Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep … but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:4, 6b KJV).
Interestingly, the Bible doesn’t say how David encouraged himself in the Lord, just that he did. And yet, with everything David was going through, he was somehow able to get back up on his feet and move forward by encouraging himself in the Lord. But how do we do that when “life happens,” and what does it look like?
James 1:2-4 (NIV) says that we are to “consider it pure joy … whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Like David, we can’t quit. Things will happen in life that knock us down, but perseverance gets back up.
I used to ask God, “Why?” Now I ask, “What? What are you teaching me, growing in me? What good is going to come from this?” Because there will be good. Having a proper perspective allows us to know that and be encouraged by it.
When a tsunami of despair, sorrow, pain or any other deep emotion strikes, we need rest. Our mind needs rest. Our body needs rest. We need to rest in the arms of Christ. Breathe deep. Just be for a while. And then, just like a Monday, sometimes we’ve just got to ease into things. And that’s okay.
Life seems pretty bland until someone dumps some hot sauce in the mix without warning us. Then a whole new type of crazy settles in our innards. Worry, fear and stress never encouraged anyone; therefore, a time of rest is necessary so that we don’t let our emotions take control.
When life’s circumstances leave us discouraged, it’s easy to start believing the lies of the enemy: things will never change. God wasn’t there for you. It’s your own fault. You deserve what’s happening. Like a merry-go-round, the lies spin around our mind until we stop letting the enemy use our mind as his playground. We do that by speaking truth.
Speak aloud the truth of who God is, even in this horrible moment. God is above our circumstances and bigger than anything we go through. He has not abandoned us, for He is omnipresent. His love never fails; His mercies never end. Seek out truth and declare it loudly.
There may be nothing about our current situation that is in any way encouraging, and yet we can choose to remember. “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:11-12 NIV).
No matter what we may be going through, we can always encourage ourselves by remembering the faithfulness of God. David wrote Psalm 34 two years before Ziklag; it was likely one of the things he turned to when he made the decision to encourage himself in the Lord when all else seemed lost. We can declare those same words.
Prayer is simply communication with God, and no matter what we think, we need to keep those communication lines open. When the awfulness of life settles in deep, we may want to avoid communication with God, but it is one way to find encouragement.
If you don’t want to talk much, listen for His still, small voice. If the words just won’t come, cry instead. Christ is superb in understanding tears. God treasures our tears so much that each one is collected and kept in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). David, the author of that verse, knew the value of the tears he shed.
Knowing David’s love of music and song, it’s likely he retreated to a solitary place and began to sing songs of praise to his God. David knew that even on our worst day, God is worthy of praise.
Paul and Silas encouraged themselves in the Lord by singing songs of praise to God while in prison. We may not feel like praising God, but we can choose to anyway. Sometimes offering God praise is a sacrifice (Hebrews 13:15), but I know experientially that it can still be encouraging.
Job knew suffering more than most. After losing nearly everything possible, he too needed encouragement. Job’s friend Eliphaz had this to say: “You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways” (Job 22:28 NKJV). Eliphaz wasn’t always encouraging, but with this statement, he nailed it.
When we call those things that are not as though they were (see Romans 4:17), we speak life and hope. We can speak of God’s promises and declare them as our own. We can declare the enemy will not have the final word because this is truth. As we declare God’s Word, we will be encouraged.
In 1 Samuel 30:8 (NIV), we find that “David inquired of the Lord.” David was at a loss and needed to know what to do next. He didn’t ask his men; he didn’t make a decision based on his own emotions. David wisely went to the only One who knew what was next.
We, too, can ask God what the next step is—not the whole staircase, just the next step. God knows the last thing we need is to be overwhelmed; we just need the encouragement of knowing what’s next.
When we’re discouraged, we may want to bury our head in the sand. But what we really need to do is look … to God. We hold firmly to hope as we cling to God by faith. We may not see the big picture, but He does. We must be careful what we look at.
Our idea of trying to see the big picture is to put our situation under a microscope. What really happens, though, is that the situation doesn’t actually get any bigger (the reality doesn’t change), but our perception of it does. So instead of putting our situation under a microscope and freaking ourselves out, we need to look at God up close and magnify Him.
As we walk this ancient path together, though our stories are all different, may we also encourage ourselves in the Lord as David did.
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