In the post Seeking God I talked about trying to understand what a relationship with God looked like. The search of trying to live in a vibrant, real and intimate relationship with God lead me to discover the Spiritual Disciplines. They have become for me a way that makes my heart available to experience God. So often my desire was to get something from God not experience a relationship with Him. My love for Him was marked by getting not giving.
We have all experienced discouragement and disappointment. The struggles and pain we experience create feelings of loss. We lose confidence and enthusiasm and we become disheartened. Here are some causes and cures guided by scripture to help you overcome discouragement and disappointment.
Some of you have let life push you down. You’re not pursuing what God has put in your heart. But God is saying, “It’s your time.” How do you live in this moment? Learn to know and understand that love is an absolute. You must love God, others and yourself.
Hope is a confident expectation. When the world and the pain of our past says “give up, don’t even try”, Hope says “try one more time.” Be willing to hope and love.
“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” – Philippians 4:8. It is important to recognize that you get to choose what you dwell on or think about. The best way I know to direct your thoughts is to focus on things that give life. I have tried to use the idea of a playlist. Most of us have a playlist. A list of songs that describe your interests and moods that make you come alive. I have several playlists that help me to find clarity and direction. Several of the playlists are songs but many are scripture. Here are three songs that I listen to daily:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path – Psalms 119:105
The playlist that I go to the most is one that is scripture. Most of my scripture playlists are in my head, not in a digital file. I think we must create things that can measure our thoughts and fears against truth. Creating a biblical playlist or list of scriptures will develop that yardstick. Here are some scriptures I meditate on regularly to bring myself back to calm when I get anxious, stressed or fearful.
The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply. Taking the time to listen and understand can communicate love and respect sometimes more than our spoken words. We need to feel heard and understood to create the safety of intimacy. Learn to develop an attentive attitude willing to listen with your heart with the desire to understand before being understood. Here are five things your can do to help you listen better.
“There is a difference between truly listening & waiting for your turn to talk.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
The most frequent command or teaching in scripture was not to be holy, or to love one another but to not worry, to have no fear or to not be anxious. In fact, there are about 365 mentions of this given by Jesus in the New Testament. We might think that Jesus is only trying to help us to alleviate our anxieties but He is actually commanding us not to worry. We constantly have to look to the Lord, read His word and meditate on His promised comforts in the midst of the chaos of life. We need to be reminded regularly that God is with us and He really is in control. Here are some scripture to mediate on that can remind you of the truth that He is an ever present help, you don’t need to be anxious and afraid – Psalms 46:1-2
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” – Matthew 6:34 ESV
The love you have for your wife should be marked by giving not getting. Move toward her to serve and give not consume. Here are 3 Ways to Love Your wife like Christ loved the church.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – Ephesians 5:25
Don’t get discouraged, focus and protect your heart with the truth that you are loved and enjoyed. Remember each day that the story is not finished yet, you still have a part to play. Everything that God is doing is worked into something good.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! – Romans 5:3-5 MSG
I try to always focus on two things when I feel discouraged and stressed.
Every couple struggles, this is part of the process of two people living life together. The work of marriage is compromise and connection. We need someone that is emotionally accessible and responsive to us, but we can become disconnected and problems set in. Sometimes we need help from an outside source.
Below are some signs that can help you evaluate your marriage. Before you read them I want to emphasize there is always hope. I am confident that any marriage can be repaired. It may take sacrifice and work but your marriage can be saved. Don’t lose hope, find help and walk through the journey of change, it is worth it.
So how can you tell when you need help? Here are some signs a relationship is struggling and may need help:
The mystery of seeking God is that HE is the One who finds you. All through my childhood I heard “you need to have a relationship with God.” This was usually presented as time spent reading the Bible, going to church and joining a small group. I think their is truth in that idea but many times these things can feel empty. They can become a way of working for grace, like you are trying to find the right combinations that will open God up to you. I am talking about attitude not the action. The actions are simply the means to help us be with Jesus to become like him. As Jesus abided in the Father’s love so we abide in him and then he and the Father abide in us! (John 15:9-10). I think the way God made us is that we have a desire, a need that only He can fill. I think that desire is a real relationship with God.
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.― Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship