Up Your Vitamin E
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”- Romans 15:4
A few summers ago after dealing with a two-month bout from a gnarly sinus infection, I began noticing a general feeling of exhaustion. It didn’t matter if I had a good night’s sleep, took a day off work, stayed on track with a healthy diet and exercise…I was pooped out. It was only at my annual physical that we discovered the problem. I was deficient in my “Vitamin D” level. My doctor assured me that this is common for individuals in their forties and she instructed me to take a daily supplement. Well, I was happy to experience a rejuvenation from taking the vitamins and enjoying some outside time in the sunlight.
Knowing the issue I was facing/fighting and supplementing it with some necessary ingredients designed to combat the deficiency brought new levels of energy and vigor to me system. The need my physical body had for refreshing and strengthening pales in comparison to the depth of joy, peace, strength, and hope that the soul hungers and thirsts for. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” This faith reality became even more a personal necessity the other day, as I found myself deficient of the nutrient known as ENCOURAGEMENT. I found myself looking at external measurements for a sense of fulfillment and success. I was soon beating myself up and doubting things based on hopes and expectations that have yet to be realized. To make matters worse, I allowed the words of three individuals to bring me deeper into the discouragement darkness. Knowing each person well, I quickly realized the issue was never in the content, intent, or delivery of their words, it was in how I was interpreting the message.
As the discouragement seemed to come from almost every direction and had me going deeper into a feeling of “BLAH”, I found the Great Physician, provide three instructions and ingredients needed to bring an INCREASE to my joy and hope:
1) A DAILY DOSAGE OF THE WORD OF GOD- As I engaged the Scriptures, I received strength to my faith levels. I began to replace the messages screaming me down with promises from the Word. I believe many people stay in a place of confusion, chaos, torment, darkness, and hopelessness due to a Bible deficiency. God’s people are simply not in His Word enough! What I have found is that by setting aside time each day for God’s Word, I am doing more than getting a “quick fix”, I am getting a “COMPLETE SHIFT” in my focus. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good pleasing and perfect will.”
2) A RECALLING OF GOD’S RECENT WORKINGS- What is so interesting about my recent bout of discouragement is that a couple of weeks earlier I attended an amazing conference that addressed the very issue. It was at that time last month that I felt super encouraged and I had a “light click on” moment. I was walking on the clouds, ready to tackle giants, and marching in a victory parade! Yet, the enemy knows what buttons to push to have me panicking, doubting, and carrying the weights in my own strength. As I wrestled through the discouragement, I returned to the notes from that conference in order to be reenergized and refocused. One of the main points jumped off the page, “Let’s Be Great!” Psalms 77:11 declares, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.”
3) A REACHING TO GOD THROUGH A HUMBLE PRAYER- At the height (or depth) of my discouragement, I took time to journal to God all I was feeling. At the end of my entry I offered the following prayer to my loving Father, “Lord, would you come to encourage me and stir within me the truth of Your delight, Your anointing, and Your mission. Help me not to become bitter, jealous, or idle. I look to You to satisfy me and be my ultimate reward. What matters most is serving You in such a way that You are well-pleased. Amen.” I have found simple, humble, heartfelt prayers do wonders to getting me from internalizing, complaining, and remaining in an enslaved and defeated place. 1 Peter 5:6-7 encourages us to, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”