In America, today is the celebration and remembrance of the Declaration of Independence from oppression.
Today, suggest that there is a new oppression. This new oppression is bad news, angry mobs, political polarization (even among friends) and a general discontent that is seen almost everywhere one turns. It has resulted in widespread discouragement.
By the way, I speak not of an American phenomenon, this malaise crosses borders and boundaries.
It has created a kind of dark cloud of discouragement about the present and the future. There is a kind of pessimism that is inter generational, cross-cultural, and multi-racial.
And this pessimism is not biblical.
Because it focuses on the problem not the solution, the darkness rather than the light and the oppressor as enemy rather than the oppression. And the real Enemy loves it.
So, wherever you are reading this,* I suggest that you declare your independence from the malaise of discouragement, pessimism and anger.
But a declaration may well be followed by action. (Years of war followed the July 4, 1776 declaration.) So an action plan is needed. Here are some suggestions for a battle plan.
1. Look people in the eye and genuinely ask them “How are you?” Then give them time to at least realize your question is genuine. You may lift them up by simply responding positively to them, or with sympathy.
2. Make a point of smiling more. Smile at people you interact with and really engage them as you have that interaction.
3. Watch less news. Local, global, whatever. Imagine what would happen if you turned off the hourly radio news and took those 5 minutes to meditate on a Scripture verse or prayed intentionally a thanksgiving prayer for the names of your family and friends.
4. Listen deeply to people. Maybe after a hard conversation with a friend you could text them an encouraging verse.
5. When a fellow believer begins to go off on politics, remind them that our real citizenship is in Heaven and that our best strategy is to spread love person to person rather than feeding political animosity. Perhaps complement them on something to shift the conversation to something uplifting.
6. Begin your day with God, your Heavenly Father and remember that IN CHRIST, you are not condemned because God is forgiving. Remember that you have no more reason to feel shame. Remember, through Jesus’ work, you are accepted.
7. End your day with your head on your pillow meditating on the greatness of God. (A helpful method is to use the Lord’s Prayer as an outline and prayerfully think about God’s nature.)
8. Make time each week to send notes, texts, emails, or DMs to people to remind them that you are thinking of them and that they are loved.
9. Find a place to volunteer and try these suggestions where you volunteer.
10. When natural pessimism begins to creep in, thank God for something. (Your beating heart is a good place to start.) “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2 ESV)
11. Take a real day off every week and get enough sleep each night.
12. Read the Bible more than books about the Bible.
Ok, enough already. Make a choice!
Declare your independence from the common worldly malaise.
In these ways you can begin your own war on worldly pessimism and discouragement. Cultures are changed one heart at a time. So start with yours and show love to the heart nearest by. In this way, you live the good news rather than being crippled by the world news.
*More of you readers are outside the US than inside, and today is just a summertime Wednesday.