Opinion: Sonshine from the Bible

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Lewis Howell, pastor of the Sonshine Baptist Church in Whakatane, shares messages of encouragement he hopes will lift the spirits of those locked down, away from their church families.

MANY good people have been driven to the end of their ropes by situations less critical than Covid-19. In light of a month of isolation forced upon our nation by this virus, there isn’t a greater time for the need to encourage one another as each of us are equally susceptible to this drive into discouragement.

Question: Have you ever felt discouraged? Sad, gloomy, melancholy, lonely, depressed?
Answering “no” is not being truthful with yourself and is a first step into exactly what this article is written to help us with.

There are misconceptions concerning discouragement: it is a sign of weakness, strong people never feel lonely or discouraged, or there is something seriously wrong if you feel this way.

Yet, most of us have fallen to the same level as Job in the Bible, who said, “when I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.

My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me. I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.” (Job 30:26-29).

Whatever the cause, these results of our discouraging times are real and painful. God cares, he knows and is drawn to “a broken heart” (Psalm 34:18). He stands ready to “strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).

What’s the treatment for discouragement?

Medicines, therapies, hospitals exist for the purpose of offering a adequate treatment.

Doctors are also learning everyday what God taught millennia ago, that aside from traditional medicines, three factors needed to overcome loneliness are: sleep, diet, exercise.

In 1 Kings 18-19 the prophet Elijah faced a major spiritual defeat, on the heels of major spiritual victory. In the midst of his ordeal, God had compassion knowing discouraged Elijah was but human.

1) Adequate sleep

Elijah found his rest “as he lay and slept under a juniper tree … and laid him down again” (1 Kings 19:5-6). Jesus exemplified this where we often find him resting in the mountains or desert. Jesus always made the time to sleep. He told his disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31).
Spiritually speaking, Jesus calls us to trust in him for our rest, saying, “come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

2) Good nutrition

Our bodies are miracle machines; it does not take long for proper nutrition to assist in healing us both physically and spiritually. Elijah found this nutrition when “he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink” (1 Kings 19:5-6). God understands that we must eat and drink to be properly sustained.

Spiritually speaking, “the word of the Lord came to” Elijah (1 Kings 19:9). The grave importance here is the need for our spirits to feed upon God’s word. God tells us, “it shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones … attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.

For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 3:8; 4:20-22). Jesus reminds us as well, concerning our spirit, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

3) Regular exercise

We can have adequate sleep and good nutrition, but we can still fall into discouragement due to our lack of regular exercise. No doubt, some are unable to exercise during our lockdown.

Myself, as I await a spinal fusion surgery, the only regular exercise I received was aqua-jogging at the aquatic centre, which has been closed during our lockdown.

Whether or not you are a Christian, we will agree there is satisfaction from the labour of our hands.

“For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalm 128:2). Elijah found his exercise when “he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:8).

Spiritually speaking, the Apostle Paul told young Timothy, “exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Paul concluded by teaching Timothy of the importance of his spiritual exercise by reading and studying the Bible, “till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” (1 Timothy 4:13)

4) Defeating discouragement

It is a proven that we can overcome discouragement if we eat, sleep, and exercise both physically and spiritually. Spiritually, we believe the Bible has power and is profitable for life here and hereafter, therefore, daily we need to feed upon it, rest in it, and exercise by it.

If you feel you have no hope, understand that God is here to be your hope. He has given us his word and has blessed us with many good resources available from trained professionals, whether Christian or not.

If you feel that you have lost all hope, please do not feel that you cannot go to someone for help.

If you are discouraged we will be glad to pray with you.

If you would like to know how to have hope for eternal life, please contact us.

If you do not have a Bible to read, we always have a limited supply and will be glad to get one to you if available.

You can email us at info@sonshinebaptist.org.nz.