By Cat Sharp

What it Means to Encourage Yourself In the Lord

We talked about emotional eating a few weeks ago, and how not to handle those hard, emotional days.

But maybe you’re asking yourself, “Ok, I know not to jump into the ice cream bucket, but what do I do instead?”

So let’s talk about that!

A few years ago I set out to read the Bible in full. It was my first time reading many passages, and I remember clearly reading 1 Samuel chapter 30. I was reading from the KJV at the time, and this little sentence jumped out at me: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

David and his men had just arrived back at camp to find their camp burned to the ground and all of their wives and children kidnapped. And the people with him were so upset about finding their families missing and homes destroyed that they talked about stoning David in their grief.

Y’all, that’s a bad day.

“It’s such a simple statement, but it was exactly the opposite of my own personal default setting. “

And David was upset, too. He wept, too. Verse 4 says that David and the people wept until they had no more power to weep.”

When I read that he encouraged himself in the Lord, I was intrigued. It’s such a simple statement, but it was exactly the opposite of my own personal default setting.

My default setting (or my natural, fleshly, instinctual response) in anger is complaining, yelling, and seeking revenge. Or if I’m sad, my default setting whining, isolating, and eating. My default setting is to focus on the bad thing I feel. Which, let’s be honest, does absolutely nothing good.

So this verse changed my perspective. And then seeing what David did next was a great lesson.

He asked God what to do.

Now, we communicate with God a little differently now than David did. We communicate with God through prayer, and He communicates with us through His Word. We also have the Holy Spirit, which helps us understand and leads us in obedience.

So what does it look like to encourage ourselves in the Lord today?

Let’s look at Philippians 4.

In Philippians 4:4-8, Paul gives us a great process to follow when we are discouraged, angry, sad, or just down in the dumps. I’m going to paraphrase it below, but if you would like to read the actual passage, click here.

  1. Rejoice. No, really. Rejoice, even if you don’t feel like it.
  2. Stay calm and reasonable.
  3. Don’t be anxious, but instead, turn to God. Give Him your concerns, remembering and being thankful for what He has done for you.
  4. Accept the peace He offers – which means you have to actually leave your concerns with Him!
  5. Focus on the things of God. His Word, His character, His love… These are the only things that are “just”, “pure”, “worthy of praise”.

I know it’s not easy to go against our default setting, but that’s part of the beauty of what Jesus has done for us. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit, and through it we can behave as the new creations we are in Jesus! We like to skip some of the steps above, wanting the peace of God without actually releasing the things that rob us of our peace.

But my default setting is not the boss of me. And your default setting is not the boss of you either.

Celebrate being a new creation today by choosing a new response to the hard stuff.