Sunday, April 26, 2020

How To Encourage Yourself In The Lord

Today began with dark gray skies and a downpour of heavy rain. I tried to fight the gloominess by lighting candles, but, truth be told I felt like having a bit of a meltdown. It's one thing to be quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic for weeks on end, but the thought of being stuck indoors all day with relentless rain had me feeling literally claustrophobic. This pandemic and the subsequent shutdown of normal life has been difficult but for some who have experienced a job loss or the loss of a loved one it has been horrific.
In 1 Samuel 30:6 King David is facing some horrible circumstances. The town where David, his family and his followers had settled, Ziklag, had been raided and burned by the Amalekites and the women and families had all been taken captive.David's own wives had been captured. His men blamed David, their leader, for this situation and threatened to stone him.This is the setting when the Bible says that David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord.

I'm not minimizing what anyone may be going through right now as we walk through these unprecedented times. I'm not tritely, glibly telling you to just go encourage yourself in the Lord. Whatever you are facing, whether it be the biggest trial of your whole life or simply a case of the quarantine blues, everyone, at one time or another, needs some simple and practical ways to encourage yourself in God.

The word for encouraged used in 1 Samuel 30:6 is "chazak", to strengthen, prevail, become strong, restore to strength. The word also denotes that this is a constant strengthening, an ongoing strengthening.
I imagine myself breathing in courage and strength from the source, from God Himself.
Some practical ways I do this are...

1) I immerse myself in God's Word...
God's Word should be our daily bread, but when you are going through any type of trial, from inward depression to external trials and testings, think of God's Word like one of those life saving ventilators we've heard so much about during this pandemic.You've got to keep it on and breathe it in at all times if you don't want the trials of life to overcome you. Read it, listen to it, keep it open on your kitchen counter or desk, print and post scriptures around your house or in your car or as the screen saver on your phone or computer. Psalm 119:54 says that God's Word or statutes were David's songs in his pilgrimage on this earth. I tend to take the Bible literally, so I think David literally sang the Word to God and to himself.
Which brings me to the next tip...

2) Worship...
Listen to uplifting worship music as often and as much as you can.When you are going through the deep valley, the last thing you want to do is sing, but sing anyway! Take your soul, (your mind, will and emotions), by the nap of the neck with your spirit, (the inward part of you in which God's Spirit dwells), and sing in spite of how you feel.Worship aloud. I remember so clearly a time when we were going through the worst Job season of our life. It felt as though daily we were being assaulted by some new trial. Every area of our life was being shaken. I felt discouraged, depressed and hopeless. One morning, I felt God tell me to begin to worship and rejoice. It was the last thing in the world my soul wanted to do. But, when I obeyed, even though there were tears streaming down my face, the heaviness broke.Worship is a powerful weapon, friends, that you need to keep in your arsenal of spiritual weapons.

3)Encourage someone else...
Ever been in a pit and no one seems to notice? Me too. And it's easy to get resentful and bitter that no one is there to encourage you, yet you seem to be expected to be there to encourage others. However, I've found out, over and over and over again, that when I help someone else, God helps me. As a pastor's wife and pastoral staff member at our church, I don't know how many times I've been counseling and praying with someone else when I felt like I was was the one needing some encouragement and yet, somewhere in the middle of the session I felt God breathe new courage in to me. He encourages us as we encourage others.

4) Give thanks...
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Amplified Bible) says, 
"Thank God in everything, no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks, for this is the will of God for you who are in Christ Jesus." Ann Voskamp calls this the "hard eucharisteo", giving thanks even in the hard times. I've been writing down and counting my blessings, thanks to Ann's encouragement, since 2009. Through all of life's ups and downs but there hasn't been a day, not one day, where I haven't found something to thank God for. Opening my eyes to the goodness of God in my life has most definitely been a life-changing way to encourage myself.

5) Feed your spirit with something beautiful...
During the coronavirus shutdown I've struggled most with the shutdown of our in real life church services, (versus gathering online), and the shutdown of all of our beautiful beaches, parks and hiking trails. You see, two of the ways our spirit is strengthened and encouraged is by the gathering together with other believers and by enjoying the beauty of creation. I long for a walk on the beach. For me, that always puts life back into proper perspective. But since I can't do that right now, not too awfully far from where I live there's a lovely walking path around a lake that I like to go to. After today's gloomy, rainy morning, the afternoon cleared up enough for me to go there. A walk outside in God's creation did me a world of good!  So, does a vase of grocery store flowers or blooming spring branches foraged from a tree or some lilacs cut from the bushes that grow along my backyard fence. God created the beauty of this world for us to enjoy. Our spirit thrives on beauty. Beauty is food for the spirit-the beauty of nature, the beauty of art and music, the beauty found in human relationships-feeding your spirit with beauty is definitely an encouragement to the soul.

Lastly, God made His people to be interconnected. There are times we have no one else to turn to and with God's help we have to encourage and strengthen ourself in the Lord. But, don't be too proud to ask a trusted friend for help. Call your friend and ask if you can pray together.  We would also be more than happy to pray for you if you just leave a comment and ask. God made us to need one another so we need never be ashamed to ask one another for help.


  1. Elizabeth, such a good reminder ... We need ongoing strengthening and God will so faithfully do just that as we come to meet with Him. He will give us strength for today. Thank you for encouraging me today. Blessings!

    1. You are a continual blessing to all of us, Joanne!

  2. I love that you included encouraging some one else.

    1. It's amazing how God helps us when we set aside ourself for a moment to help someone else!

  3. This is beautiful, encouraging, and simple to put into practice! Thanks for the timely reminders!


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