Life is just plain hard. It seems that at least once a week, I hear a heart-wrenching story of pain: a mom who lost her child to cancer, nother seemingly solid marriage shipwrecked by infidelity, yet one more scandal that makes you wonder if you can trust anyone. I’m not just talking about the news, which I rarely have the stomach to watch. I’m talking about the people I know and love and do life with. Sometimes you wonder how much more you can take before discouragement overrides hope.
David is one of the most beloved Bible characters because we know that he often felt like this. Think about it . . . David faced almost every trial imaginable throughout his lifetime. He lost children to illness and violence. He was rejected by a spouse, homeless, and the target of murderous threats. He was betrayed by a child and close friends, had a daughter sexually abused by her brother, and felt the shame of horrific personal choices. Whatever you are experiencing, David most likely lived through similar trials. In spite of this, David was known as a man of worship and praise. How did he rise above his depression and despair time and again? When he felt like giving up, how did he keep stepping in faith?
Today is one of those days when I just feel discouraged. As I was praying this morning, I sensed the Lord simply saying, “Keep your eyes on me.” I need to know how David did this, resisting the urge to give into doubt and discouragement.
Psalm 22 gives us a glimpse into how David practically weathered the many storms of his life. Within this psalm, we see a progression from discouragement to praise. Before you read any further, take a look as this beautiful psalm. What I notice most about Psalm 22 is that David “remembered” his way out of discouragement.
After pouring out his feelings of despair, David wrote:
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced. (verses 3–5)
Even though God seemed silent to David, he remembered the amazing ways God has acted on behalf of his people.
When we feel discouraged, we should remember the testimony of the men and women who have faced tremendous trials and testified to God’s faithfulness. We worship the same God as George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Louis Zamperini, and Joni Eareckson Tada. Like David, we need to remember all that God has done for his people throughout history.
Remember God’s Faithfulness to You
It’s not enough to remember what God has done for other people. We also need to recall what he has done for us personally, as David did.
Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born. (verse 9–10)
Can you think of times throughout your life when God has saved you? Redeemed you? Encouraged you? Make a list of “God interventions” and keep them in your Bible for those times when you need to remember. Tell your friends and your children often the wonderful ways the Lord has taught you to trust him throughout your life.
Remember Your Resolve
Sometimes I can feel like there’s a fire in my belly. I am so determined to serve God and to be faithful to the end that I feel as if nothing could distract me. Then, maybe even a few days later, I’m so fatigued or discouraged that I want to give up. Have you been there? I’m sure David was as well. Many of his Psalms, including this one, record a list of resolves. David reminds himself of his desire and commitment to the Lord:
I will praise you in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you. (verse 25)
David’s “I will’s” represent a determination not to live by feelings or present circumstances but on a choice to be faithful. What are your “I will’s”? In stronger times, have you made a commitment to trust God no matter what? Now is the time to remember those vows.
Remember the Future
“Remembering the future” sounds like an oxymoron. How can we remember something that hasn’t happened? Yet, we can remember what we know about the future, which is exactly how David ended Psalm 22.
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him . . . (verses 27–29)
Here’s the cool thing. David wrote these words before the prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Revelation were written. God revealed the future to David, and he clung to the truth about the future when he faced doubts about today.
Remembering the future of eternity in which God will reign is probably what most encourages my heart in times of discouragement. I have no guarantee that life on this earth will have a “happy ending.” In fact, I’m certain that it won’t. Sure, many struggles of life may be resolved, but this life ends in loss and sadness. But remembering the eternal perspective of the future gives me great hope to endure the disappointments of this present life.
I don’t know what causes you discouragement today—your marriage or singleness, your health, a prodigal child, financial loss, or maybe an unsettling silence from the Lord. Whatever has clouded your joy, remember. Remember the mighty acts of God throughout history. Remember what he has done for you over your lifetime. Remember your vows to trust him faithfully through both good times and bad. And remember the future—that day when he will be revealed as King and Lord of eternity . . . when these temporary trials will be over and your faithfulness will be rewarded.