Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
— Habakkuk 3:17-19

Every once in awhile I sit back and take stock of my life. I take a look at where I am in relation to where I've been and measure how far I have to go based on the goals I set for myself. I have to admit that many times I feel like I have not made any progress. 

Then there are times when life just happens and everything seems to be going wrong. When everything I touch seems to break. When every dream I have goes dim. When everyone around me turns against me. The fig trees don't have blossoms, leaves, buds, NOTHING! Everything seems barren  and when we compare ourselves to everyone else, we don't measure up to their success. Life can get like this sometimes. Very frustrating.

The bible acknowledges this and I'm glad it does. God never said that we would go through life easily with no challenges. Even after we are saved there are still going to be challenges, and probably even more than we had before we accepted Christ. The scripture says "Many are the afflictions of the righteous..........". In other words, you can be in right standing with God and men and still go through trouble. That's life!  

So what do we do when we get into the so called valleys and dark places? There are several steps we can take to keep from spiraling into depression.  

  1. "Capture" our thoughts. Take a moment to evaluate the thoughts we are having by asking yourself the following questions. What is the source of these thoughts? Is there truth to the thoughts I'm thinking? What are the triggers of these thoughts? Write down the answers to these questions. 
  2. Refocus our thoughts. The saying goes, we are what we think. This sounds cliche but it is very true. Do what you have to do to change the focus of your thinking. If you have to listen to positive music and sing songs, do that. If you have to repeat your favorite scriptures, do that. If you have to reach out to a friend that always lifts your spirits, do that. If you have to take a few moments to bare your burdens to God in prayer, do that. Do what you have to do to clear your mind and reroute your thoughts to a positive place and do it as many times as you have to, until you see results.   
  3. Trust God with our thoughts. Trust is a precious thing. It is hard to earn and easily lost. That is why we must put our trust in things that are secure. So when we are in trouble we can run to the place of security for safety, help and direction. My experience is that God's promises are secure. Everything that he says comes to pass. He says that his word goes forth and does not return to him void. Meaning that every promise he makes comes to pass. Guess what? God is the only one that can say such things with a surety. So trusting God lessens my worries and gives me relief from whatever is stressing me out.
  4. Hope in God with our thoughts. In short, hope is a powerful thing. Hope pushes us to look beyond our current situation and toward a brighter future. Hope is the force that pushes us to stand against evil, stand up for what is right, love those who don't love us and most importantly fight for a better future for ourselves and others despite our current situations. Hope is the energy that activates our faith. 
  5. Think gratitude. A grateful heart will keep you from being polluted with negative thoughts. When we are grateful, we think about all the good experiences, people and things we have. When we direct our gratefulness to God we think about how wonderful he is and what a good father he is to us. 

Gratitude, hope and faith in God, work hand in hand to walk us through life's challenges with confidence. Confidence in the fact that when all else fails, I have hope and security in God and in the end, I will be ok.  

Until next time,  

Live in gratitude. Live in love