Someone sent me the following obituary, clipped from a local newspaper. “Faced with the prospect of voting either for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016 at the age of 68.”
The recent Republican and Democratic National Conventions have left me a little discouraged too. I’m not quite as despondent as Mary Anne Noland, but it’s easy to get discouraged about the upcoming election. The rank hypocrisy and boastful claims on both sides are demoralizing.
Hillary Clinton suggested in her acceptance speech that America is great because America is good and yet she favors permitting every form of abortion right up to the moment of birth. In his acceptance speech Donald Trump proclaimed, “I am your voice. I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order.” He did not appeal to prayer, or to God but asked Americans to trust him alone. Really?
Like Mary Anne Noland, I’m not fond of either choice. Now we face three months of vicious, negative advertising. But I refuse to yield to the temptation to despair or depression, although I do battle those emotions almost daily. If the political climate frustrates you, don’t lose heart. Here are some suggestions that help me overcome discouragement,,,maybe they’ll help you.
1. Remember nothing is impossible with God. The Israelites were overwhelmed with despair when trapped by the Red Sea. But Moses said, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14) That night God worked a miracle and the next day the Hebrew slaves were totally free. We serve a miracle-working God. Pray for divine intervention.
2. Set your affections on things above. This world is not your home anyway. You are a foreigner and stranger in the world. You are here for only a brief period of time in light of eternity.
3. Turn off the news. Cable News stations increase ratings by exaggerating problems. It skews our perspective. Quit filling your mind constantly with negativity and disaster. You really don’t need to watch cable news for hours every night. You can be informed about what’s going on in the world in fifteen minutes a day. Do yourself a big favor and turn it off.
4. Count your blessings, The Bible instructs us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. The last stanza of the old hymn “Count Your Blessings” reads, “So amid the conflict whether great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.”
5. Take on a project you can control. Few things lift your spirits like seeing something you’ve personally accomplished. Good counselors recommend doing something with your hands when you get depressed–cleaning a room, mowing the grass, writing thank-you notes or working on a scrapbook. (Just completing this article has helped lift my spirits!)
6. Do something for someone else. Dr. Carl Menninger was once asked what a person should do when the initial stages of depression surface. He responded, “Go across the tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person.” The noted psychologist felt sound mental health was contingent upon forgetting self and helping others. The Bible gives great counsel for overcoming despair when it says, “..value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
7. Practice living one day at a time. Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow, tomorrow will have enough trouble of its own.” Live in the precious present. Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow may never come, we have only this moment so don’t waste it brooding about future problems you can’t control anyway.
8. Plan an event in the near future that you’re excited about. Hope is essential for well-being. Our long-term goal is to go to heaven when we die. But we all need short-term goals also…something to look forward to in the near future. Maybe you’re not looking forward to the November election but you can plan an activity in the next several days that can lift your spirits in anticipation.
9. Laugh out loud. Get with someone you enjoy being with and have fun. Intentionally laugh out loud and enjoy a good time because, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22).
10. Ask yourself a serious question “Do I really believe what I say I believe?” Do I believe that God is ultimately in control? Do I really believe His Word is true, “All things work together for good to those who love God”? Then quit moping around and act like it’s true.
Martin Luther was once in a pit of despair for a prolonged period. One day his wife Katherine came downstairs dressed in mourning clothes. “Who’s dead?” he asked her. “God,” she replied. Luther rebuked her, saying, “What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die.” “Well,” she replied, “the way you’ve been acting I was sure He had died!”
Luther thanked his wife and etched a Latin word on his desk: ‘vivit’. Vivit means, “He lives.” It’s said that whenever things weren’t going well and Luther was tempted to complain about them, he looked at that one simple word and was invigorated. Because Jesus was alive Luther had every reason to be upbeat.
Just hours before He went to the cross Jesus spoke these comforting words to His disciples. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).