God the Encourager

encouragement

Photo Credit by Kevin Martineau

We can often feel overwhelmed by our circumstances. For many people, the pressure of finals, school, traveling, and holiday seasons can get us down. For me, I can get overwhelmed with traveling. Last year, my wife, son, and I flew to Ukraine and had a wonderful time. It was great, believe me! But on the way home, I had to fly by myself.

The good news was I didn’t have to run around and chase my two year old son up and down the aisles on the airplane; that was a relief. However, I was nervous for many reasons. What if my flight was canceled and I got stuck in Kiev, Ukraine, only a couple hours away from where the fighting was going on in Donetsk? After making it through the checkpoint, my next worry was: I hope the next flight isn’t delayed so that when I get to Detroit, I can make it on time through customs. Of course, my flight was delayed in Amsterdam.

Then, as we start lift off, the captain says: “We are delayed due to bad weather.” Hang on for just a few minutes. We finally get up in the air and get struck by lightning! Then when I get to Detroit, I have 20 minutes to maneuver through US customs, check my baggage in, go through security, and believe it or not, my next flight was on the opposite end of the terminal.

I was running faster than the family on Home Alone to make it to my flight. I barely made it. Everyone was laughing at me because I was sweating profusely and completely out of breath. Oh, and guess what, since it was only a 20 minute flight, they didn’t provide any beverages! I was so upset!

We let our circumstances get us down. In the Bible, we read the words of a psalmist who also experienced a down time, but his words also give us encouragement by pointing to the God who is above our circumstances. He repeatedly reminds himself to put his hope in God and to praise God as the remedy for his depression.

42:1-3 As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, “Where is your God?”

How would you describe in your own words what the psalmist experienced? When we feel at a loss for God’s presence, it causes these feelings. It’s like the moment, when you were a child and got separated from your parents in a big store. We all know how it feels to look everywhere frantically for Mom and Dad and not see them (It’s even worse when you become a Father). Suddenly, we have the horrible thought that we might be lost. In the next verses, we find out how the psalmist handled his grief. Let’s read out loud 42:6-8.

42:6-8 I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your billows have swept over me. The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night—a prayer to the God of my life.

The phrase I am deeply depressed reflects the psalmist’s despair. It is a phrase that paints an image for us. To you, how would you describe depression? It is where a great force or weight has pushed hard against the normal plane of something: when the weight of life overwhelms us. Remember, distressing times are opportunities to remember the goodness of God. The Psalmist sang about the promised land God gave to his people. The land was a sign of God’s blessing to His chosen people. Always remember that God can encourage us no matter what circumstances we are in. He is our shelter in the midst of storms. Ask yourself the following questions and then put it into practice today.

  1. Which life circumstance, if any, has ever left you feeling seriously overwhelmed?
  2. What does God provide physically, spiritually, and emotionally to help us handle these difficult situations?
  3. Where do you need encouragement today?

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