Recently, I woke up feeling heavy. What was the source? The national news? Some aches and pains? Frustration over church matters? Well, you know. We all can create our lists. And some actually have so many things on their list that it is leaving them with the feeling of little hope. But, in my heaviness, I thought, “The only one that can get me out of this is me. And I know that the way out of feeling blue, the only sure way, is to encourage yourself in the Lord.”
And with that, I began to use tried and true ways of encouraging myself in the Lord! I want to share 9 of those ways we can encourage ourselves in the Lord in this post, but first let me begin by sharing a story:
You may know this story about David from the Bible. (1 Samuel 30)
He had been living with the Philistines because King Saul had continued to pursue and try to kill him. David was trusted by Achish, but not by the other Philistines. So, when they marched off to war, the Philistines said, “Get rid of David and his men. They can’t be trusted.”
David returned with his men to the Philistine city, Ziklag, where they had been living with their wives and children. To their horror, they found the city had been attacked, burned down, and their families kidnapped. In the midst of the story, these words (v. 6) are shared:
“David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”
Some translations say it this way, “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” After getting refreshed by God, David was able to ask Him for guidance, and then “get on with business” again.
9 Ways to Encourage Yourself in the Lord
Before sharing this list, I want to say something practical. When you are sick, or just home from the hospital, where do you start in order to feel better? You certainly don’t hop out of bed and start trying to do jumping jacks or run a marathon. You gently, bit by bit, do small things and then larger things to recover.
The same thing is true when you’re deeply discouraged and feeling a lack of hope. You need to start out with small steps. In the story above about David, the Bible says that first, “David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.” (v.4) So, to begin:
1. Acknowledge your feelings
Like David, name what you’re feeling. “I feel really discouraged. The future seems hopeless to me right now. I’m so disappointed.” Whatever is rolling around in your mind, be real with yourself and with God. “Lord, I’m down.”
2. Pray what’s on your heart to God
The Bible gives us many examples of “lament,” those “sad songs” that people raised up to God in their struggles and defeated seasons. Here’s one, Psalm 13:1-2:
“How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? ” These are the words of someone in great pain. It is, in fact, David who wrote these words. In verse 2, he continued, saying “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
You see, God can take the real us! He wants us to be real with Him. That’s what people who love one another do. But after we pour out our feelings, God would invite us to pray, “Get me back up, Lord. Show me the way.”
3. Read uplifting scriptures
The Bible is FULL of encouraging scriptures. As you begin to read God’s words of life and hope, your heart will stir. Like clouds starting to part, the Word of God is the sunshine that breaks in. Eventually all the clouds dissipate and you feel hope and joy.
To help you find words of encouragement all in one place, go to this site to find a list of 100 verses under the heading, What Does the Bible Say about Encouraging Yourself in the Lord? Print it off and keep it handy. Sometimes it helps to write these verses down. It makes them stick in your mind. Memorize your favorites. Or, write them on sticky notes and put them on the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror. Put them somewhere so that you’ll see them again and again.
When Jesus was tempted in the desert by satan, how did He answer and sidestep those temptations? He answered with scripture. You can, too, when the devil tries to tempt you to wallow in defeat. (Yes, he does have a hand in it when you sink really low.)
4. Declare those scriptures over yourself
Now, take a second step with the scriptures. Speak them out loud. Your voice and these words firmly spoken shift the atmosphere. You’ll start feeling stronger word by word. Your confidence will begin to rise again. For example, Isaiah 40:31 tells us 4 things:
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength…mount up with wings like eagles…run and not be weary…walk and not faint.
You can say this out loud using that verse:
LORD, you say I shall renew my strength. Right now, I say, my strength is coming back from the LORD. And LORD, you say I am going to rise up like an eagle. Right now, I say that I am rising like an eagle. My strength is increasing so that I can run again. I am shaking off weariness and faintness.
5. Check your thought life for negativity
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
This is a hard step, but as you start to feel better, you have to work on keeping your thoughts on good things. What is a kind word you received recently? What was a happy moment? Yes, you may be feeling overwhelmed with discouragement about several things, but almost every life has some bright moments to which you can pull your mind.
Try these 5 words, “I am so grateful that ___________________________________ (fill in the blank). Always, gratitude and remembering God’s goodness and other people’s kindnesses lessens our dark moods.
6. Do something that brings joy
Yes, I had a dish of Reese’s Pieces ice cream on the day I was feeling low, and watched a favorite show. “How is that encouraging yourself in the Lord?” you might very reasonably ask. “That doesn’t sound religious!”
I’m glad it doesn’t sound “religious.” Because, I am all about relationship with the Lord. And I know God is loving and playful. He also believes in rest. Therefore, so should we.
When your mind and heart are heavy; when things seem sour, sometimes you need to just take a break and have some fun. Consider this Bible verse:
“Jesus and his followers were in a very busy place. There were so many people that he and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, ‘Come with me. We will go to a quiet place to be alone. There we will get some rest.’ He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.'” (Mark 6:31)
Jesus understood the effect of being drained, getting burned out. He often spent the night alone with His Father in worship, prayer, and in receiving encouragement.
7. Encouraging yourself in Christ with others
You may not feel ready to be with others right away when you are feeling low and without hope, but as you do some of the above and your mood begins to shift, being with others who are encouraging, is so wise.
We need other people. Being with godly people whether it’s being at church or going to a restaurant or to a friend’s home – this can really lift you back up. And that leads to #8:
8. Encouraging others helps you encourage yourself
Nothing lifts us up like doing kind deeds for other people. It may take a lot of effort to muster the energy to call someone, visit someone, or do some other act of kindness for someone in need, but you will be the biggest beneficiary. It always seems to work that way. You reach out to help someone and you come away feeling the most joy.
9. Remember past cycles of discouragement
The Bible says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) In verse 4 of this chapter, there is something related to this topic of renewing hope and encouraging yourself. It says there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
When you’re feeling down, remember past times when you felt this mood before. Then, think about how it lifted. Think about the times when you have been so happy. Moods and emotions come and go. What becomes really important is to develop a deep rooted faith in the goodness of God who constantly and consistently loves us.
Resting and trusting in that love, you can weather the storms and sad seasons of life, knowing you will rise back up and He is ever so ready to help you.
If you have never formed a relationship with God through Christ so that these steps would make sense to you, you can read this article. Why Did Jesus Die? | Understanding the Gospel.
You can also contact me through the website or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always so glad to talk with those who write to me.
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