We live in a messy world today. When we look around at what is happening in our country, we can become very discouraged. We see mass shooting happening repeatedly. Most Americans want something done to prevent these killings from happening. Our politicians do nothing.
Eleven per cent (14.3 million) of U.S. households were lacking in basic food items at some time during 2018. Six million children lived in households where a lack of food exists. More than 550,000 Americans experience homelessness on a typical night, and 1.4 million will spend sometime in a shelter in a given year. The situation around the world is even worse.
The prophet Isaiah reminds us that we should “remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.” Racism, sexism and homophobia still oppress whole categories of people. As for “false accusation and malicious speech,” good luck on that one during an election year. Look at all the lies our politicians tell us every day.
Sometime when we are depressed and discouraged by what is going on today, we can easily turn to comfort items like engaging in overeating, significant alcohol consumption, gambling, self-indulgent purchasing, pornography, self sexual pleasures, even unlawful sexual encounters.
Songwriter Donna Fargo has given us “10 Thoughts to Help You Avoid Discouragement.” I will present her 10 and add my own commentary in parentheses.
- Look at life as a journey and enjoy the ride. Get the most out of the detours and realize they’re sometimes necessary. (God sometimes changes our direction and guides us in a new path according to the Divine Will. If it is a rough road, we might learn something new.)
- Do your best, but if what you’re doing has caused you discouragement, try a different approach. Be passionate about the process, but don’t be so attached to the outcome.
- Wish the best for everyone, with no personal strings attached. Applaud someone else’s win as much as you would your own. (Another person’s success is not a reflection on you.)
- Trust that there’s a divine plan that we don’t always know what’s best for us. A disappointment now could mean a victory later, so don’t be disappointed. There is usually a reason. (This is God’s world and we have to believe that God is in charge.)
- Ask no more of yourself than the best that you can do, and be satisfied with that. Be compassionate toward yourself as well as others. Know your calling, your gift, and do it well. (Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Be the person that God wants you to be.)
- Don’t worry about something after it’s done; it’s out of your hands then, too late, over! Learn the lesson and move on. (Holding on to our mistakes is a form of living in the past.)
- Have the attitude that no one, except you, owes you anything. Give without expecting a thank-you in return. But when someone does something for you, be appreciative of even the smallest gesture. (Life is a gift. We receive gifts with grateful hearts and share them with others.)
- Choose your thoughts or your thoughts will choose you; they will free you or keep you bound. Educate your spirit and give it authority over your feelings. (In Mark’s gospel Jesus warns us that evil comes from within. If we don’t get in touch with our dark side, evil will take over.)
- If you judge no one, then disappointment and forgiveness won’t be an issue. No one can let you down if you’re not leaning on them. People can’t hurt you unless you allow them.
- Love anyway . . . for no reason . . . and give . . . just because. (Jesus told us, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” That’s a great way to live.)