Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Grace for Tired, Discouraged Hearts

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss arrived at church one Sunday and knew something was wrong.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: During the worship time, I found that I was having a hard time just breathing and couldn't stop crying. I finally had to leave the service. I went out to my car—I had ridden with some other people that day and couldn't just leave—so I sat out in my car and sobbed uncontrollably for probably fifteen or more minutes. It had been a long time since I had a cry that hard. I thought, What is wrong with me?

Leslie: How do you gain perspective in times like that?

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, November 18.

Nancy: Well, as we come up on the Thanksgiving and then Christmas holidays—and they do kind of merge together these days, don't they, right on top of each other—those are supposed to be times of celebration and happiness and joy and family get-togethers and all things good. But, I’ve been noticing recently in a number of conversations I’ve had with friends, a number of emails I've received from listeners, there's kind of a common thread I’ve been sensing. Maybe it's just me. I don't know if you have been sensing this.

I've been struck by how many people around me are feeling gloomy at what is supposed to be a happy time of the year. I've sensed a more than normal amount of weariness in a lot of conversations I’ve had with people—hopelessness, women feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, having a sense of despair. Some of you are sitting there thinking, I was doing pretty good until you started talking about how depressed everybody is. Maybe that's not the way it is in your circle right now, but you've probably had times when it seemed like people around you were just struggling with a lot of things.

A friend said to me the other day, "I wonder if the enemy isn’t just releasing a greater attack on people's emotions and minds." I think that could be a part of it. There's a range of reasons, a range of circumstances, that have brought on those feelings. "I just want to curl up and go to sleep and not wake up again." That has kind of been the mindset that I’m picking up.

It can be reasons as simple as, for those of us who live in Michigan, it's that time of year when the sun goes away. It seems like the end of September, early October, and you don't see it again until May. At least that's what it feels like. It's not quite that bad. We have a lot of gray days. We go for a lot of days without seeing the sun. They have that thing they call seasonal affective disorder—SAD—where you don't get enough sunlight. We can blame a lot of things on that when we're feeling down or blue, because it's the weather up in Michigan.

For some that I’ve talked to, it has to do with being in a new season of life. I have a friend who just had her second child, and the children were real close to each other. In the weeks following having this second child, she's been making a lot of adjustments. She was so looking forward to the arrival of this child and seeing at as gift from God. Then she had the baby and realized there are huge adjustments here she wasn’t prepared for. She said, "It's five o'clock in the afternoon, and I haven’t even figured out how to shower yet." You know, how to handle both these little ones. There's been a sadness and discouragement that she's facing in that new season of life.

For some it is the season of empty nest. That can create some of the same feelings of heaviness and sadness. Our ministry received an email recently from a woman who said,

I'm struggling in a valley like no other. I find myself in strange, new territory. For almost twenty years I've had a place to serve in various ministries. Now as my children are getting older and leaving the nest, I find myself being dropped from every area where I volunteer. I don't think there is any connection between these two things, but both are happening at the same time. It's like someone is pulling the rug out from under me where I wish to serve. I've never felt this alone. I've never felt so unappreciated or unneeded.

She writes to us, total strangers, pouring out her heart. She's just wanting to have her spirit lifted.

In some cases the depression and discouragement that people are feeling has to do with the natural letdown following a big event or a massive undertaking. I remember right after the True Woman '08 conference and the national election that took place just weeks later. There was so much anticipation led up to these events—the one in our ministry and the one in our nation. After it was all said and done, I know a number of people who were connected with those events who just felt exhausted. Maybe you just married off two kids in the same season. It was good. It was great. But now you're facing that after-event letdown.

For a lot of people in this nation and in this world, there is a lot of uncertainty and fear as they look at the national scene, as they look at the international scene. There are crises in politics and in the economy, in wars in the world, the continued rise of Islamofascism and terrorism. There is only so much crisis that you can take. You say, "Well, I’m not directly involved in all that." But listening to the news can get your blood pressure up and can cause this sense of discouragement and disheartenment, this uncertainty and fear.

Speaking of the economy, financial pressure is taking a toll on a lot of people, a lot of ministries as well. We have felt that. Other ministries have felt that. I hear about people who are losing homes, losing jobs. It's one thing to just read the statistics about all of this, it's another thing to be the person who just had your home foreclosed on, or the person who just lost their job. They got to work and found out they don't have a job any more. This is happening all around us. We got an email from a listener recently who told us,

Our bills are totally out of control, and we are literally living paycheck to paycheck. There is hardly ever enough for food or gas at the end of the week, even though my husband has just gotten paid. At times, as I watch our bills go unpaid, and the lights, gas, and water are shut off in our home and the foreclosure notices arrive, I literally break down. I'm confused.

Confused about what is going to happen. Confused about where is God in all of this. There's this sense of fear of desperation, of crisis over time. Adrenaline can take you so far, but if you're living with fear or uncertainty or crisis from day to day over an extended period of time, it starts to take a toll on your emotions, your mind, and your body. I think this is part of what some people around me have been experiencing.

We're hearing from listeners—this is not new, but it seems more than normal recently—who are struggling with what it means to fulfill their calling as a woman of God, and are feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Let me read you a couple of emails. I say this, not to point these people out, because think it's endemic in some ways among women. We're supposed to be Christian women. We believe the Bible, and we love being women of God. But sometimes it's hard being a woman of God and fulfilling what He's called you to. One woman said,

I find myself in a desperate place. I feel like there is no hope. I grew up thinking I would be the perfect wife and mother. I guess we probably all think that. I've let God, my husband, and myself down.

While I do have some physical problems that cause me to be tired often, I try not to allow myself to blame them. My home is a place my husband and I try to avoid. I cannot seem to get myself motivated about doing housework. I barely get any laundry done. I do dishes about every two to three weeks, which is usually when we run out of things. My fridge hasn't been cleaned out in four to six months. I don't know where to start, or how to get motivated.

Just discouraged. Another woman said,

I was not taught how to love the home or how to be a homemaker. I'm thirty-eight-years old, a single mother of two boys. After an abusive marriage, I’m finally learning how to be the woman that has always been in my heart, but I was told not to be. I so want to have a home that is a Christ-centered haven, but I struggle with working and being involved in the kids' activities, and not killing myself off from exhaustion.

I don't have friends, family members, or church members at this time to help or teach me. The Christian women I do know don't exemplify the kind of woman you were talking about [this is what we were talking about in a series on biblical womanhood on the radio]. I'm unsure where to find women like this. I guess I’m asking for prayer to find peace in my chaos.

Peace in my chaos. I think that is what a lot of people are wanting. She said, “I am so tired and alone.” Then you have the challenges associated with the holiday season, the busyness, the travel, the families that you're supposed to love and be close to and want to go see, but you've got broken relationships.

It's discouraging or fearful to think about, or distasteful to think about making the obligatory trip in some cases. For some people, the whole family thing is painful for a lot of people. There's that sense of being tired, alone, chaotic, frustrated.

Let me say, it's not just other people. I have my own days. In fact, not too long ago after a major undertaking, something in that category of things we've talked about, I was more depleted physically and emotionally than I realized. I found myself within the space of a few days having a couple of what I would consider fairly major meltdowns. In one case, this has not happened in eight years, but I got a couple hours into a studio session—not a teaching session like this, but where we do some aspects of recording—and I couldn't put a sentence together and had to leave the session and go home and go to bed. I couldn't pull it off, and had to say I can't do this.

A couple of days later, I went to church and was sitting—I'm a little hesitant to tell this because I’ll probably get a whole bunch of letters of people diagnosing what my issues were and what to do about it. I welcome those, but the Lord knows what's really needed. I was sitting there on the second row, and as I walked toward the church and toward my seat, a couple people asked how things were going. I found myself, with every person I was talking to, I was breaking into tears and crying. It surprised me. I found that I didn’t have the capacity to carry on normal conversations, and sat down at my seat.

During the worship time, I found that I was having a hard time just breathing and couldn't stop crying. I finally had to leave the service. I went out to my car—I had ridden with some other people that day and couldn't just leave—so I sat out in my car and sobbed uncontrollably for probably fifteen or more minutes. It had been a long time since I had cried that hard. I thought,What is wrong with me? It was unusual. I wouldn’t have said I was feeling depressed, but there was a depletion. There was a weariness, a heaviness.

I want to assure you, most days are not like that for me. Probably most days aren’t like that for you. But we need help for our tired, hungry, thirsty, and needy souls at times when we just don't have the reserves for what it takes to press on. As I was preparing for this recording session, I was headed a whole different direction. I just kept thinking about people that I had been around recently, myself included, who were having meltdowns. I've been thinking what in the Word of God would minister grace and encouragement, especially as we come into this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, and the Lord took my mind to Psalm 34.

What a wonderful passage this is. It speaks so beautifully to tired, troubled, discouraged hearts. I want to just read through the passage today, make a few comments, and then over the next few sessions, I want to walk through parts of this psalm in more detail. The title of the psalm—and we'll talk more about this in the next session—says it's a Psalm of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

If we could give a title to this psalm, or this series, I might call it "ABC's for Handling a Meltdown." The reason I say ABC's is that this psalm is an acrostic. With a couple of exceptions, each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So here we have ABC's for handling meltdowns. Let me just read the psalm.

Lord, I pray that as I read You would just wash our hearts and our minds with Your Word, the water of Your Word. The Scripture says You sent Your Word and healed them. Your Word is more powerful than anything I can say about it. So just even over these 22 verses, would You minister grace, hope, encouragement, and healing to our tired and needy souls. Because it's You that we need. So speak to us, I pray, through Your Word. In Jesus' name, amen. Psalm 34:

I will bless the Lord at all times; 
  his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; 
  let the humble hear and be glad. 
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, 
  and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me 
  and delivered me from all my fears. 
Those who look to him are radiant, 
  and their faces shall never be ashamed. 
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him 
  and saved him out of all his troubles. 

The angel of the Lord encamps 
  around those who fear him, and delivers them. 
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! 
  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, 
  for those who fear him have no lack! 

The young lions suffer want and hunger; 
  but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. 
Come, O children, listen to me; 
  I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 
What man is there who desires life 
  and loves many days, that he may see good? 

Keep your tongue from evil 
  and your lips from speaking deceit. 
Turn away from evil and do good; 
  seek peace and pursue it. 
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous 
  and his ears toward their cry. 

The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, 
  to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears 
  and delivers them out of all their troubles. 
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted 
  and saves the crushed in spirit. 

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, 
  but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 
He keeps all his bones; 
  not one of them is broken. 
Affliction will slay the wicked, 
  and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 
The Lord redeems the life of his servants; 
  none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned .
  (vv. 1–22)

Now in so many wonderful ways, this familiar psalm gives us perspective. We could call it a thanksgiving psalm. Actually, it's a psalm that is good for any time of the year. But it is especially meaningful when you understand the context that David was in and the circumstances he was facing when he wrote it. It was written at what was probably the lowest point of his life thus far.

We'll be talking in the next session about what those circumstances were, what precipitated the writing of this psalm. You think he was a guy who was just having a great life. But the fact that it refers so often to afflictions, troubles, and fears gives you a hint that he was in a difficult circumstance when he said I will bless the Lord at all times.

He gives lot of insights about what to do when you're facing a meltdown, and prescriptions that I think can help lift our hearts and our spirits in low times. But today to get us started, I want to look at the very last phrase of the psalm. We're going to start at the end. It's that last phrase at the end of verse 22, “None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”

That word condemned—I looked it up last night—it means "to be guilty." None of those who take refuge in Him will be found guilty. By implication, it's not only guilty, but it means to be punished or to perish. So you're guilty and you pay the consequences for your guilt. That's what it is to be condemned. A man commits a capital offense, he murders and he is condemned to life in prison or to the death penalty. He has been condemned. He has been found guilty, tried, sentenced, and the punishment or the penalty is meted out.

Now the fact is, every person on the planet is guilty. We're guilty of sin against the God of the universe. We have broken His law. We are all law breakers. We are all sinners. We are all separated from God. We are all under the righteous wrath of God, and every person on this planet deserves to be punished and to perish. That's the fact.

But according to this verse, there are some who will be spared condemnation. It's only one group of people. Who are those who will not be condemned? Those who take refuge in Him. The New King James says, “Those who trust in Him.” That word, to take refuge, it means "to flee somewhere for protection." You're in trouble. You're in danger, and you run to a safe place. You run to place where you know you can be protected and preserved.

So where do we run to find refuge from condemnation, the condemnation we deserve for our sins? There is only one place to run—to Him, to Christ. Christ is our refuge. Christ is our protection from the wrath of God. He is the one who can preserve us. The only one who can preserve us from the consequences of our guilt.

We're all guilty. We all deserve to die. It's no wonder that people on this planet are feeling hopeless. We’re under God's condemnation. But our hope—and isn't that what people are looking for today, hope? Our hope is found in fleeing to Christ for safety. How can He protect us from condemnation? Because when He went to the cross, and died on that cross that we call Calvary, He took our guilt. He took our punishment. He died the death that we deserve for our sin.

That's why the apostle Paul could say to the Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). He says at the end of that chapter,

Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (8:33–34). 

None of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned. Christ died for us. He was raised for us. He intercedes for us in heaven.

So what does all that have to do with meltdowns? Well, the starting place for dealing with every issue in life—all the kinds of things we listed, and whatever you're experiencing that wasn't on my list—the starting place is to look to Christ, to flee to Him. We need daily, moment by moment, to preach the Gospel to ourselves. Even in the time that I just described to you that I was going through some practical physical things I needed, I didn't realize how tired I was. But I tell you what I need supremely was a fresh look at Christ, a fresh look at the Gospel.

When you know that you've been delivered from condemnation, from eternal condemnation, you've got the answer to life's biggest problem. And in comparison with that, whatever your other problems are, nothing else really matters a whole lot.

That last phrase of Psalm 34 puts everything in perspective. "None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned." You get that part solved, and you can go through the rest of your life holding your head high. You can face what life throws at you because you have fled to Christ for refuge, and you know there is no condemnation. Life's biggest issue is settled.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss isn't done. She'll be right back with an additional thought. When you truly realize how much Christ has done for you, it will change your attitude from despair to thankfulness.

We want to help remind you about who Jesus is and what He’s done continually through the year.  So the team at Revive Our Hearts commissioned artist Timothy Botts to create twelve original works. Each one illustrates a different name of Jesus. We’ve put the twelve pieces together into “The Wonder of His Name” wall calendar. 

I hope you’ll get this calendar in time to use in 2014. We’ll send it to you when you make a donation of any size to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.  

Ask for “The Wonder of His Name” wall calendar when you call with your donation. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com

Where do you turn when you're afraid? Nancy will help you answer that question with confidence tomorrow. Now let's join her with the final thought.

Nancy: I love those words of Charles Wesley:

Amazing love! How can it be 
That Thou, my God shouldst die for me!

No condemnation now I dread; 
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine! 
Alive in Him, my living Head, 
And clothed in righteousness divine, 
Bold I approach the eternal throne, 
And claim the crown through Christ, my own.

("And Can It Be" by Charles Wesley) 

O Father, I lift up to You today, sisters and any brothers who may be listening as well who are facing hard times, discouraged, oppressed, depressed, weary in the battle. Whether its because of gray skies or something much much larger than that, thank you Lord that when it comes to the major things in life, for those who are in Christ, the issue is settled.

There is no condemnation. So help us, Lord, not only for our salvation, but for all of life to flee to Christ for refuge. To find in Him safety, security, confidence, and joy. May we realize how very alive we are, even in the midst of difficult circumstances because we have fled to Christ for refuge. We pray in His wonderful name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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