Did you know there's an antidote to discouragement? And it works almost immediately, if we can only remember to pull it out of our spiritual tool kits and use it!
What is it?
Some of you may be thinking, Really? You don't know what our family is facing on a daily basis!
I get it. Sometimes I feel like my prayers for healing within my family (autism, bipolar disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety and dementia) shoot into the ether like wayward arrows, sort of like those emails that never make it to their intended recipient.
Where do they end up, anyway?
Don't get me wrong. I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), but sometimes the strength part wavers. I find myself asking, what’s happening to all these prayers? Are they reaching you, God?
Both my husband, Wally, and I have been feeling pretty discouraged lately with several hard family situations. We find ourselves barraging heaven with prayers, and we just haven’t been seeing the fruit.
Our strength wavers, and some days we feel like quitting, but we keep on sitting together in the morning, reading Scripture out loud to one another and praying for our kids. We pray on our own as we go about our days. We pray with friends. And we listen for God's answers. We listen in prayer. We listen to our prayer-warrior friends, to our pastor, to the Scriptures. We listen as we worship. We listen to our dreams.
The past few months? Nada. Zilch. Zip.
Yesterday we simplified our prayers, honing them down to one plea.
Give us wisdom! Show us the way, Lord!
That very night, my husband had a dream.
The dream was very short. Wally heard the words, Psalm 117. Then, he saw our son wrapped in a hammock, totally enclosed, almost as if he were in a cocoon. Wally said he "knew," in the dream, that our son was wrapped in Psalm 117.
Upon awakening, Wally ran for his Bible to read Psalm 117.
He discovered it’s the shortest Psalm in the Bible, a mere 5 lines long:
Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.
“God knows I’m a very simple man,” Wally laughed. “He must have known if he gave me anything longer I wouldn’t understand it!”
In Wally's dream, our son, whose emotional state has been highly unstable for the past several months (and whom we don't know the best way to help) was wrapped in this psalm. As we interpreted it together, we understood that our son was wrapped in God’s love and faithfulness. He was cocooned in that love and faithfulness. God showed us that cocoons are where metamorphosis takes place. God’s love is an agent of transformation.
God's power is moving in our son's life, in the spiritual world, beyond what our earthly eyes can see. We are to hold onto this truth to sustain us in this waiting time. And then we're to praise God!
So often, in our fear for our children’s well-being, we storm heaven, begging for healing. When we don’t see the answers we’re praying for, we pray harder. We wear ourselves out. We wear our kids out. We probably wear God out! I don’t believe we’re to stop praying, but in this dream, God made a very clear statement to Wally as well as to me:
It is our job, as parents, to praise the Lord even in the midst of really difficult circumstances - especially in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances—trusting that God is at work.
Praise is the gateway into the Lord’s presence. Remember the song? “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter his courts with praise." That song was fashioned from Psalm 100.
All of us deal with times of discouragement as we parent these very special children. But God has given us an antidote.
Praise the Lord!
Why? Because his love for us is great, and his faithfulness endures forever!
I'm reminding myself of this truth every time worry and discouragement raise their ugly heads. It works! Try it and see. Praising the Lord is a miracle-working antidote to discouragement. Hang on! No matter what our physical eyes see, God is at work in the spiritual realm. God is good. God is faithful. We are wrapped in God's love.
Kathleen Bolduc is a spiritual director; co-founder of Cloudland, a contemplative retreat center in southwest Ohio; and the author of 4 books, including The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities and Autism & Alleluias. You can learn more about her ministry at http://www.kathleenbolduc.com/wp/