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Overcoming Spiritual Disappointments, Part 2

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Over the years, I've discovered two very simple, yet powerful, antibiotics for the spiritual blues. Neither requires hours of study or days of labor. Neither will cost you a fortune—not even a single dime. Yet, when it seems as though God has abandoned you, put the two together and you will discover a formula filled with hope.

I. GOD INHABITS PRAISE

The biggest cure for spiritual disappointment is praise. When we feel God is not with us, that he's absent, that he's let us down, or when we feel our spiritual lives aren't clicking, we need the discipline of praise! Whenever I'm down, praise helps me give thanks in advance for the good that is going to come. Start thanking God for the victory ahead for you in every downer situation you're in. Praise his awe-inspiring attributes. Praise him for loving you as a Father. Thank him for his trustworthiness. Praise him for answering your prayers.

In Psalm 22, David starts with a prayer of disappointment but moves into praise:

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."

God inhabits praise!

II. GOD INHABITS HISTORY

The second cure for spiritual disappointment is history. Review your own history, and review the history of the people of God. Review the story of your own beginning with Christ and incidents where you were sure of his faithfulness. Then when you pray, think of Abraham, Moses, David, the story of Jesus, and the birth of the church.

I often look back on the long up-and-down history of the church and God's people, the many struggles and trials. Yet, through it all, God consistently kept his promises. When I consider such history, it propels me past feelings of hopelessness—because I begin to sense the bigger picture of God's vision.

After questioning God in Psalm 22, David starts into the history of Israel and how God has graciously watched over his people. He continues with a clear picture of Christ's death and resurrection.

There's a powerful lesson in David's formula. First, we are honest before God. Then, we remember what God has done in our lives, in the history of all his people. Then, we look forward to God's ultimate redemptive plan. When we pray like this, we may even feel like we are in a "thin place"—here our earthly lives draw nearer to heaven. God will meet us where we hurt and help us see more clearly through the fog. God always inhabits history!

At some point in all our lives, we will face spiritual disappointment. But when we are honest with ourselves and with God, when we cry out to him, when we praise him and remember his work in our lives and in the story of his people, an amazing thing happens. We stop focusing on ourselves and our own disappointments and start focusing on God . . . never forgetting the promise in Romans 8:28: "We know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

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