I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about how it seems that so many people are living
in fear and discouragement when he mentioned something that really made me think. He said that it
was impossible to be depressed and walk in the joy of God’s presence at the same time. After our
conversation, I continued to ponder this thought and by the way, I do agree with it. I’m not saying
that developing an optimistic lifestyle is easy, but being a positive or a negative thinker are both learned behaviors. Since a healthy relationship with the Lord is associated with the level of our spiritual joy, we can know that a lifestyle of encouragement will depend on controlling the way we think. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” Psalm 42:11.
Like the Psalmist, there are times when we allow sadness to lead us down the road of discouragement. I
use the word allow because joy and sadness are attitudes of the mind which we choose. How can we
live in victory if we are always worried and afraid? I’m still learning that it’s up to me whether I accept
the misery of anxiety or become determined to focus on God and find refuge in the safety of His arms. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can decide how we will respond. When I’ve been too busy to pray, study or worship Him, my faith turns to doubt as I begin to lose my confidence that He will take care of my problems and needs. When we drift away from the security of His love and peace, we are vulnerable to the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness from mistakes and sins we have committed. The dark side will sniff out our failures and attempt to bring guilt and condemnation to remind us of what we could and should have done. The enemy of our soul is devoted to condemning and tempting us to be depressed about missed opportunities and wrong decisions.
There are many followers in the kingdom of God that are tired and disappointed and often they do not feel appreciated in their calling, but the Lord sees your labor and His definition of success is not the same as the world. There is nothing more wonderful than to know the mission and will of God and to be walking in it, however, if there is anything that can deter us from following Jesus we will be tested and tempted. “For the Lord God can help me; therefore shall I not be confounded [confused] therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed” Isaiah 50:7. Setting our face like flint is declaring a message of faith that we are dedicated to becoming the person God has called us to be. Flint is a very hard substance and in the season of our trials, the strategy for victorious spiritual combat is to stand strong and not allow doubt or intimidation to influence or persuade us to compromise or surrender.
Our Creator is waiting to give us the stability and perseverance we need to accomplish His plans, but He is also depending on us to become committed in our obedience to Him. There is a big difference between talking about what we should be and actually manifesting it. His river of contentment is available anytime and beckons for us to wade out into the deeper waters of His presence. We are invited to be saturated in His Spirit and to bask in His glory if this is what we really want. Unfortunately, many are relaxing in their lounge chairs at “poolside” and only stick their toes in the water occasionally when a crisis comes upon them they cannot fix on their own. The best way to maintain a successful and consistent Christian life is to pray and study God’s word daily which renews our minds and keeps us sensitive to His thoughts and the demonstration of His character. John chapter 15 explains how Jesus is the vine and we are His branches, which allows everyone to witness His nature and glory. We know we are to believe in Him, but when is the last time you considered that He believes in you?
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