The Antidote for Discouragement
Recently my husband had an extended vacation from work, a benefit of his long-term employment. It sounded like such a great time – sunning at the pool, barbecuing in the backyard, lazing around over coffee and the newspaper, playing games with the kids, right?
Let me tell you. No kidding, the last day he came home from the office before his time off, the air conditioning went out upstairs. The boys’ room was 98 degrees and climbing (courtesy of Southern summer). No wonder they came down sweating and said, “It’s kind of warm in our room.”
And it went downhill from there. The dryer went out again. The toilet had to be replaced. The car needed new tires (nails in all four – nice). I can’t even remember everything that broke. It culminated in a water leak upstairs that took out our garage ceiling, part of a bathroom, the laundry, a few walls, a few doors, and so on. My husband is back to work, but the house is awaiting the workmen next week. At least the kitchen will get a new coat of paint.
Really, these are all first-world difficulties. For most people in the world, 98 degrees and broken plumbing, if any, are the norm. Drywall? Carpet? Cars? It should be a reminder of how blessed we are and how much we take for granted.
The problem wasn’t so much the physical things that happened, but the gap between my expectations and reality as it presented itself. This gap was the source of some discouragement. I was expecting fun, happy, and carefree. Instead, I got not-so-fun, not-so-happy, and definitely not-so-carefree. I got not-so-much-time-with-my-husband, and we really needed some time to invest in our relationship, which has been strained by the busy life of a family of eight.
In the Bible, the Psalms reveal many raw emotions of our human experience. Psalm 42:11 says “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”. Or maybe you can identify better with The Message paraphrase: “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?”
The house falling apart may not deserve a cast-down soul, but I’ve felt a lot of discouragement about other things lately, too. Communication challenges, financial challenges, child challenges, health challenges, schedule challenges, relationship challenges, work challenges, church challenges, one on top of another. All of these can certainly result in discouragement.
But I’m so thankful that the Bible also gives me the prescription for these down times in life. The verse above continues, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” The Message translation? “Fix my eyes on God– soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.”
Have you had discouragement lately also? Don’t give up hope. Fix your eyes on God with me. Keep praising Him. He’ll take care of you!