One day my best friend called me because she was having a terrible day. She was feeling down and discouraged. As soon as I answered the phone, she blurted out, "Do you like me?"
I thought, "What planet is she coming from?" But I said, "Of course I like you. Why?"
"Oh, I'm just having some problems today. I feel like nobody likes me, and I had to talk to somebody who does."
"Yes, I like you," I assured her and then added, "I want to tell you a funny story." I began telling my friend one funny story after another until she burst out laughing.
After a few minutes, she said, "I really needed to laugh today!"
Sometimes we all need a good laugh to cheer us up and get us out of the depressing moods that try to come against us. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones" (NKJV). I want to tell you a story that illustrates what that scripture is saying.
All my life I was extremely close to my father. I was definitely "daddy's girl." One of the most devastating times I have ever been through was when my precious daddy passed away. Even though he was 89 years old, almost 90, I wasn't ready for him to go home to be with the Lord. It was like cutting my earthly umbilical cord, and it hurt.
I'll never forget the Sunday after Dad's memorial service. My husband and I had visited a church in Dallas that morning, but somehow I hadn't received the touch I needed from the Lord. When we got back to the hotel where we were staying, a horrible feeling of depression started to close in on me.
I recognized what it was and knew I had to do something about it. I turned on the television, hoping to find something uplifting to watch, but I couldn't find any Christian TV stations. As I flipped through the channels, I kept thinking, "Lord, I need to hear something that lifts my spirits."
Then Art Linkletter's face flashed across the screen, and I remembered how much I had always enjoyed watching his TV programs. I admired him very much, so I began listening to what he was saying. He was celebrating his 90th birthday, and he looked wonderful.
He began describing what had helped him to become successful through the years. He said, "I've never stopped learning. I'm always looking for something new to learn. And I've always kept laughter in my heart."
By the time I finished listening to Art Linkletter that day, I was laughing and my spirits were lifted.
That program wasn't exactly the kind of encouragement I expected to receive from the Lord. But it proves that God is not limited in what He can use to cheer us up and encourage our hearts.
That's why it's so important for us to be looking for even the tiniest things God may send our way to encourage us. We need to reach out and receive every bit of encouragement we can from the Lord.
I remember a situation in our ministry several years ago when one of our departments had somehow gotten off track. The whole department seemed to be in chaos. As I worked to get things back in proper order, I could feel a cloud of depression trying to come over me.
I told some of my staff members, "Please get me some music tapes! I need to listen to joyful, upbeat music. I don't want to hear any slow songs. I need to hear lively praise music to help get my spirits back up again."
We started bringing music tapes to work with us and played uplifting praise music all day long. I also encouraged them, saying, "We're not going to get depressed. We're going to get ourselves back on the right course with joy!" And we did!
It is important that we reach our divine destination in life. But it is just as important that we reach that destination with joy! The Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:24, "None of these things move me . . . so that I might finish my course with joy." If it was important to Paul to finish his course with joy, it should be important to us too.
Isaiah 61:3 tells us that God has given us a "praise cure" to help us overcome the depression and discouragement that try to come against us in this life. He's given us "the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." The Lord is saying to us, "Praise Me during those dark and troubled times, and I will set you free."
If you want to rise above the dark clouds of depression and discouragement, surround yourself with music that ministers to you. There's nothing like praise music that speaks directly to your heart.
When Satan attacks you with discouragement and depression, begin to give praise to God. Surround yourself with uplifting praise music. Tell the Lord how much you appreciate Him. And remember that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3).
We respond to the praises of our children, don't we? When a little girl crawls up in daddy's lap and says, "I love you so much, Daddy. You're such a great daddy!" his heart just melts. And when she gets to the point of asking him for something, the answer usually is, "Oh, honey, whatever you want." And he gives her even more than she asks for.
When we praise our Heavenly Father, He opens His arms to us and says, "Oh, child, you can have whatever you want. Is that all you want? I have so much more for you!" Then He surrounds us with His presence, and that's when the clouds begin to lift, because in His presence there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). Those dark clouds of depression and discouragement can't stay in the presence of our God!
Have you ever experienced depression? If you have, you know how dark clouds can come rolling in on you. Everything around you starts getting darker and darker. If you allow yourself to be engulfed in that darkness, it will totally surround you. But thank God, the Lord has made a way for you to climb out from under those dark clouds.
If you're feeling down and discouraged, call on the Lord, and He will give you the encouragement you need. Start praising Him and listening to praise music, and you will feel your spirit lifted. And always make room for laughter in your life.
Yes, you may walk through the valley, but you're not supposed to camp there. You're supposed to cross over to the other side.
On the other side there is joy, peace, and an assignment from the Lord. Just ask Him to let that assignment burn so brightly in your heart that it will light your path all the way to victory!