by Matt Watson, Next Generation/HS Pastor

Seasons of discouragement and depression can come quickly and out of nowhere. It starts with a phone call about a parent who is sick. On your way to care for your parent, you get an email about a major, unfavorable job change. Things with your spouse have been tense lately and the kids seem completely disconnected and disinterested in the family. You have no idea how to fix things. The skies of your life are gloomy and there appears no sun in sight.

All of us, at some point or time, come face to face with gloomy life skies. We are bombarded with tough situations and our life quickly becomes overrun by a general discouragement. And once you are discouraged, if you wallow in it, it has the tendency to filter how you see everything. You remember mistakes you made years ago that you thought you had forgotten. The hobbies that you used to love no longer give the same feeling of enjoyment. You have nothing that you are looking forward to and nothing that gets you excited about tomorrow.

Whether your discouragement is deep or just getting started, it is never good to leave it untreated in hopes that you will one day just snap out of it. It doesn’t usually work that way. Instead, God’s Word prescribes treatment for this gloom. Just imagine the gloom of the 6th century Israelites. They had been defeated by the evil King Cyrus and transported from their homes in Jerusalem to Babylon. Finally, after captivity ended, they returned to Jerusalem to a destroyed home and Temple. The people were burdened with the guilt of the past and no hope for the future. They felt far from God and unsure about what to do next. Yet clearly God was not done with His people. He gives them a clear path forward to find light in the darkness.

Isaiah 58:10 If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

God is telling them to stop focusing so much on their circumstances. His mandate to care for those with less doesn’t depend on their situation or feelings. Whether they are well or sick, rich or poor, happy or sad, they are to pour whatever they have into those around them. It’s ironic, too, the effect of not focusing on your own problems. His light will shine brighter than your darkness.

The next time you face a gloomy day, take God’s advice in Isaiah 58:10 to heart. Stop looking down and look up and around for someone who you can compassionately care for.