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Coping with Feeling Miserable

COPING WITH FEELING MISERABLE

MIKE CUNNINGHAM

August 13, 2006

The reality of one of the points I made in last weeks message was driven home to me a few days later. Last Tuesday was one of the most enjoyable days of my life. The combination of visiting with part of our family from Alaska in the morning and then being able to sit in my yard and quietly relax and study was an experience I enjoyed immensely. In fact, I fell asleep that night feeling very happy and couldn’t help thanking God as I had been doing on and off the entire day.

However, when I awoke the next morning it was something else. I felt real down and depressed. So much so, that I could literally cry if I allowed myself to. I couldn’t explain why I was feeling so crummy. I had a good night’s sleep. Because of my diabetes, I checked my blood sugar level and it was excellent. Nevertheless, I felt miserable. I didn’t want to do anything even though I had been eagerly looking forward to that particular day for some time.

Lot’s of things had been planned for last Wednesday. Several important meetings were scheduled. The highlight of the day was going to be Carol’s baptism at Harvest Time. I had been looking forward to all these activities for a while. But that morning I wasn’t happy. I was really down in the dumps. It was difficult to even think straight. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I felt drained and miserable.

Normally I’m an energetic upbeat positive optimistic person. I love living. I count it a privilege to serve the Lord and His people. I love my family, the folks in our church and Harvest Time and other special people He has brought into my life. I look forward to each day in trying my best to glorify God through the life He has given me. I have prayed many times that He allow me the privilege of serving Him and His people for many more years.

But on that particular morning when I woke up feeling miserable the thoughts that started popping into my mind were completely contrary to the way I normally think and feel. For instance, it occurred to me to make some phone calls and explain my situation and reschedule everything. After all, I’m not all that young anymore. Folks would understand. In fact, if I was wise I would head out to pasture.

These were the kinds of ridiculous thoughts that kept popping into my mind and the kind of thoughts I was listening to and that I was strongly tempted to act on. But then, by the grace of God I stopped listening to my self talk to me and I started thinking and talking to myself. I though about the folks I truly cared about, folks who would be adversely affected if I called things off. In other words, God enabled me to put into practice some of the things I had been preaching about recently.

I came to the conclusion that the only ones who would be happy if I called things off would be Satan and his fellow slime ball demons. The Lord gave me the strength to drag myself out of my home and go to my first appointment. All things considered, I knew I did the best in that meeting that I was capable of. As I drove away, more thoughts kept relentlessly popping into my mind attempting to convince me I did poorly. I wasn’t certain and I still felt miserable.

When I arrived at our church I discovered that the baptismal font which was supposed to be full contained only about a foot of water and a big black dead bug floating on top. Then more ridiculous negative pessimistic thoughts starting popping into my mind. And guess what? I listened to them and acted on them. I phoned Carol. I told her about the water and asked if she wanted to postpone her baptism. I wasn’t sure if I could get enough water in there in time. I was temped to but I didn’t say anything about the bug.

Carol wanted to go ahead and so I got rid of the bug. Then I brought the hose inside to start filling the fount. I discovered there was no knob on the outside hose faucet. I didn’t have a pair of pliers or a wrench and I couldn’t turn the shut-off valve with my fingers. I just didn’t have the strength.

More thoughts which were completely contrary to the way I normally think and believe started popping into my mind. “Get out of here you old fool, and keep going and don’t come back. Forget lunch with Sergio at the Pizza joint. He’ll survive. Life is short. You’re going to make yourself crazy if you keep subjecting yourself to kind of stuff. Pack it in and take it easy until the Lord calls you home.”

But then, the Lord jogged my memory and once again I remembered some of the things I had been preaching about lately and so I dragged myself over to Marko’s. As miserable as I felt I wasn’t going to give in to those cosmic forces of evil if God would only give me the strength to overcome them. And He did.

I had a nice lunch with Sergio and when I got back to church Bob was able to turn the hose on and put the water into the fount. The baptism took place. To put it in Carol’s own words, “My baptism was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.  I feel more complete now as a Christian.”

In spite of Satan’s attempt to derail things, our sovereign Lord had prearranged that the service would turn out to be a wonderful blessing to those who were present. God was glorified. Satan and his crew were whacked big time. And guess what else? I know I couldn’t have enjoyed and had such an indescribable appreciation for that particular wonderful blessing if I didn’t experience those previous challenges. Finally, my sense of feeling so helpless and miserable disappeared just as suddenly as it had descended upon me.

As He has done so many times in the past, God once again used Satan to unwittingly confirm to me that I am doing the work He has called me to do by the frequency and intensity of these spiritual attacks.

Take a moment sometime and think about your own trials. Unless there is some sin you are reluctant to get rid of, and which the Lord is weaning you from by allowing you to experience painful experiences; you can be certain that you are also doing the works the Lord has called you to accomplish by the intensity of the numerous trials you have faced and are still enduring. Furthermore, He is using your suffering to crush Satin under your feet and also enable you to develop the capacity to experience wonderful future blessings. Of course it’s much more complex than this, but that’s another sermon.

God blessed me with other wonderful things that day. I’ll be glad to share them after the service with anyone who may be interested. That night I once again fell asleep thanking God for allowing me to enjoy an even better day that the previous one.

Ephesians 6:10-17 (AMP) 10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. 13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, 15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.

16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.

Satan and his fellow demons have been alive for thousands of years. They have amassed incredible knowledge and each of them is brilliant. They understand you and me infinitely better than we do ourselves. They know our weakest point, the spot where we are the most vulnerable.

One of their favorite targets is our feelings and attempting to powerfully influence how a child of God will cope with them. Our feelings play a major role in the up-close hand to hand up spiritual combat that we are involved in on a daily basis. The sad fact is that many Christians feel miserable most of the time.

Compounding that reality is also the fact that, not only are they poor recommendations of the Christian life  to non-Christians, but chronically miserable people are often accused of not even being Christians by fellow believers who have allowed themselves to be seduced by a demonic judgmental spirit.

Most people don’t enjoy being miserable. I sure don’t. With the possible exception of folks who seem to thrive on feeling miserable, such as those I know who seem to enjoy poor health and love telling everyone know about it, or others who seem to delight in making everyone else feel miserable. I believe all people want to be happy.

As I have been pointing out in previous messages, some folks have been so constituted by our Creator that they are by nature prone towards having an introverted somewhat nervous fearful temperament. Such insecure people will be viciously attacked by those cosmic forces of darkness. Each of them will do their utmost to persuade the person to allow his or her feelings to take center stage in their life.

These folks are the Christians who are more apt to allow themselves to be guided by their feelings without stopping to think about what’s really going on. For whatever reason, more often than not, even many Christians often allow their feelings to control them instead of them controlling their feelings.

Speaking last week of real painful circumstances Christians sometimes experience I said: “…to think that we can feel happy when we are going through this kind of stuff…is sheer idiocy. We can rejoice “in the Lord” but, without the use of mind altering drugs or having a lobotomy, there is no way we can make ourselves “feel” happy when we are enduring intense physical or emotional suffering.”

Feelings or emotions, if you will, are something which we can not create. For instance, we can’t say to ourselves: “be happy” or “be sad” and presto-all of a sudden we’re happy or sad. We may think we can but, if we do, we’re trying to escape from reality. Try commanding yourself to be happy some time when you’re feeling really down and all you’re going to succeed in doing is to make yourself even more miserable.

Another thing we need to remember about our feelings is that they are as unpredictable as the weather. For instance, how could I or anyone else have predicted that my wonderful “sunshine” of last Tuesday would be followed by a Wednesday morning of “pitch-black clouds” gradually giving way in the afternoon to intense, almost indescribable “sunshine?”

There are many factors that influence our feelings including the temperament we have been blessed with by God. Our physical condition is also a major factor in determining how we feel. That’s why, in trying to figure out the reason I was so down that morning I ruled out inadequate sleep or my blood sugar level being out of kilter as being a probable cause.

Just as I advised last week that we should never let our temperaments control us, neither should we allow ourselves to be controlled by our feelings. If we do we will run into all sorts of problems. Imagine a motorist who was so filled with feelings of gratitude towards a woman police officer who just cut him a lot of slack, that the big guy suddenly pushes his car door open, and then jumps out attempting to hug and kiss the woman? Or the person who let’s you know how she’s feeling and is quick to give you a piece of her mind. I know people like that and so do you. These folks might hand a total stranger they are walking by a five dollar bill because they suddenly felt like it.

We must do everything we possibly can to train ourselves to remember the reality of the constant unseen supernatural satanic activity occurring behind the scenes in our life. And remember the devil has an intense hatred of you and me personally; the magnitude of which you and I can’t even begin to imagine.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV) 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

1 Peter 5:8-9 (AMP) 8 Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. 9 Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.

Our arch enemy may be alive on Planet Earth but he’s really not as well as many people believe. As powerful as he may be he doesn’t have the power to compel you or me to do anything, including allowing our feelings to control us.

James 4:7 (AMP) 7Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.

The next time you are down and tempted to just give up, get out that Blessing’s Log I have been recommending. Read those past blessings out loud to yourself. Listen carefully to what you are saying. Meditate on how painful and frightening some of your past experiences have been and how He sustained you during each of them.

Ask yourself this questions such as: “Why would my Sovereign Lord and Savior, the One, who suffered and died such an agonizing death because He loves me much; the One who has provided for and taken care of me every one on my yesterdays; why would He not provide and take care of me every one of my tomorrows?”

Take the time to think about all the good the Lord has brought about through your often painful ordeals. You have grown closer to Him. You have learned that you can trust Him. Your personal experiences have demonstrated repeatedly that He is gentle and faithful. You ought to be able to recognize that, slowly but surely; He has been developing beautiful Christ-like virtues of love, patience, kindness, gentleness, peace, joy and the like within you.

Those experiences of mine which I have been sharing with you folks this morning, have driven home to me the biblical reality that the great blessings God has bestowed upon me are often followed by very unpleasant challenges which He has also allowed. Among Moses and Paul and Peter and others, I’m reminded of the Prophet Elijah. After enjoying the blessings of the Lord upon his work numerous times, we come to the day where we find Elijah feeling extremely miserable. So much so that He pleads:

1 Kings 19:4 (ESV) 4 “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” Well the Lord helped Elijah get through that ordeal and enabled the man to continue serving Him. Finally there came a day when Elijah was speaking with the man who was going to be his successor.

2 Kings 2:11 (ESV).” 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

You and I can deprive ourselves of receiving some wonderful blessings God has planned for us; blessings which He desires each of us to experience, if we don’t sincerely struggle to develop and then implement a biblical outlined way of “coping with feeling miserable.”

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