A friend writes that his business has been down lately, he has been feeling anxious about the future and he has gone through a period of discouragement. He asks if I can offer any encouragement.
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You are certainly not alone in your feelings. Discouragement swats us all from time to time. When anxiety begins to churn my heart, I have found the only solution is to hand over to God whatever is bothering me or causing me concern, and to ask him to renew my trust in him alone. I do not mean some shallow or pseudo-spiritual prayer. I mean telling God the complete and unvarnished story, including how I honestly feel about the entire matter.
Our emotions always respond to our perceptions of reality, and we usually form perceptions based on the sensory world around us. That is not surprising, for it is the only world our natural senses can perceive. This is why it is so important for us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). The eternal realities are all invisible — God on his throne, Jesus at his right hand, God’s eternal purpose, his unfailing love for his people, and our final victory through Jesus Christ. Whenever we focus on those realities, our emotions realign accordingly.
In my case, negative emotions usually result from disappointed expectations. And those expectations, I must confess, frequently spring from my own desires for personal comfort, creature satisfaction, momentary pleasure or ego gratification. God has not promised me any of those things — and certainly not all the time! God is our provider and our sufficiency, and knowing him is the only worthy ultimate goal. When I remember these truths and affirm them with all my heart, temporary problems involving people and circumstances fall back into proper perspective.