It’s hard to believe we are already in February 2021! When a new year arrives, we tend to get our hopes up for wanted change, and “turning the page” in life. Perhaps no year in recent history had our hopes up like 2021.
I believe most of us were weary of 2020; from a pandemic to politics, social turmoil and economic troubles, 2020 is not missed. However, the problems of last year are proving to be resilient. Vaccines that promised health bring their own questions and distribution problems. Looking across the landscape of society, unrest still continues on every front.
If we aren’t careful, we can get overwhelmed, pessimistic, or even depressed. The Bible explains the emotional aftermath of seasons of struggle that show no resolve:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
In any area of life, when we get our hopes up, only to have them unmet, it can make us “heart-sick.” Call it depression, disappointment or frustration…the longer problems and struggles go on the harder it is for us emotionally. You may have noticed this in yourself. Perhaps you are more irritable than usual, sarcastic or even lethargic or depressed. As your hopes of returning to “normal” are deferred, you are getting heartsick.
Take comfort, and focus on the next half of this verse:…”Desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Most of us would agree…when dreams come true, when plans work out, or surprises are pleasant, it is life-giving. Such good news improves our mood, our energy levels and even our relational connectedness.
You can experience less heartsickness, and more “life” by choosing your focus. The Bible tells us that during a really hard season in King David’s life, when everyone seemed against him. When you read that, don’t just think that people were talking bad about David, the Bible describes it like this:
“Moreover, David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him (to death), for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and daughters. But David encouraged (strengthened) himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30: 6,7
Can you imagine how David must have felt? The very people he was leading had turned on him and wanted him dead! On top of that, this outrage was because while David and his army were away, their enemies had come and destroyed their homes and taken the women and children captive and stolen their possessions. Talk about hope deferred…yet, the amazing thing we learn is that King David didn’t give in to discouragement. Instead, when no-one else had a kind or positive word, David encouraged himself in the Lord.
So…as 2021 starts as a slow, continued grind from 2020…don’t give in to discouragement. Even if there is no good news, or you are surrounded by pessimists, you can encourage yourself in the Lord.
Try it now, out loud, tell yourself three things (big or small) that went well today; add an explanation as to why they happened, and conclude each with a summary sentence “I am thankful for…” In addition to “your three” say a prayer of gratitude (out loud) to God for four blessings (2 “big” and 2 “small”)…you’ll be surprised at what that can do in you.
Add to your gratitude, people you are thankful for because of their impact on you in the present, or your past. Send them a text (right now). It only needs to be two or three sentences, but go ahead and text them something like “I was just thinking about you, and I’m thankful for how you have impacted me”….conclude your thoughts…and hit ‘send.’
Giving thanks for good things, thanking God for blessings great and small, and expressing appreciation to people who matter to you are just a few ways to encourage yourself (did you notice that encouraging others is still helpful to you?)
Make it a good day!