Disheartened, Discouraged, and Distressed
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Drugs, alcohol, substance abuse, those are words that bring heartache and despair. Divorce, death, and being a single parent, all terms that are filled with emotional turmoil and countless hours of loneliness. What does it mean to be a man or woman in distress? Are misery, suffering and agony the characteristics of a discourage person? As we view what the beloved psalmist, David wrote, we will assume the intense emotional distress and deep sorrow that was David’s constant companion.
Psalms 31:9-13 ~ Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble (distressed): mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly (body). For my life is spent with grief (sorrow), and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed (my body has wasted away). I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.
It appears that the word, “Distress” means: extreme anxiety, sorrow, and pain. Men and women that have been divorced sometimes have doubts and are occasionally confused because of their fear of failure and complete loss of hope. Some find it hard to make the simplest decisions while being engulfed with anger. Drug and alcohol abusers are at times in a state of delusion, and rarely feel competent enough to survive on their own. Their life is filled with misery and guilt while unhappiness accompanies their emotional state of mind. Single parents struggle with feelings that their lives have been taken from them either by death or divorce. They feel disconnected from life and sometimes are ostracized by others. These are all tragic situations and many are left to wrestle with the question, “What is my purpose in life?”
What do they do and how can they be helped? David, in Psalm 31:10 said, “My strength has failed me because of my iniquity.” This is a reminder of the sin issues that can accompany the person with a distressed heart. They need to identify any sin that occupies their heart and seek help. The temptations and challenges of life provide the person in despair with circumstances to respond wrongly to the trials of life. They feel trapped, inadequate and hopeless, experiencing a persistent struggle with failure and guilt. Confessing sin is the beginning of help and hope for the discouraged person. The next step is for them to examine their heart, in light of God’s Word and obey.
Here, in Psalm 31:14-16,19, is the answer! “But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake. Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” The answer to a life filled with anxiety and distress, is trusting God–––for He has our life and times in His hands. We are not to yield under the load of despair, temptation or stress, but we are to turn our thoughts to the goodness of God and rejoice in the hope of His deliverance. God brings comfort and strength to the believer under affliction and suffering when they trust Him and surrender to His loving care. His contentment through trials will bring encouragement to the heart. It teaches believers how to have patiences in suffering, faith through testings, and a readiness to show gratitude, an extremely important command of God (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Thoughts: What will bring you to the point of disappointment and discouragement in your life? Will you turn away from God or will you let Him embrace you with His love and boundless mercy. Discouragement can breed bitterness and resentment if you are not diligent in guarding your thoughts in devotion to God. You can overcome discouragement and disappointment by confessing the truth of God’s Word and studying His attributes, and personal promises to you. He is the Great Deliverer and Defender and will come to your aid, just as He did David’s. Nothing you go through is ever in vain. The God of all comfort can turn the hardships of life into times of growth and preparation for what He has in store for you.
JEHOVAH-MAGINNENU - The LORD My Defense