Perspective: A Pep Talk for a Downcast Soul

woman writing in journal while reading Bible

There is nothing worse than finding yourself in a funk, whether self-induced or brought on by some contributing factor. Triggered grief, seasonal changes, the impact of sinful choices, circumstances beyond our control, and even the condition of our health or hormones can bring us down.

When your soul becomes downcast, there is a time to grieve but there is also a time to take action so you don’t slip into a downward spiral that has the potential to take you captive. It is important to cry for help instead of giving into the temptation to isolate. Cry out to God and to a trusted friend (including professional help if necessary or desired).

Along with reaching out for help, the best first step to conquering this enemy is to give yourself a pep talk straight from the word of God! Many sojourners have been just where you are, including the prophet Habakkuk. His experience with God provides a message of hope including these helpful next steps to take when you are struggling with despondency:

8 Steps to Take When you Feel Discouraged

  1. Lament – It is okay to ask questions and to feel the pain. Lamenting is natural and necessary although many misunderstand the process. Rick Warren gives important insight into the guardrails for a lament, “Complaining about God is rebellion, but complaining to God is an act of worship.” If you need guidance, turn to the Psalms where lament is one of the psalmist’s favorite forms of communication.
  2. Listen – God will speak in the silence, but it is often a still small voice. His reply to Habakkuk’s questions is insightful, “I am doing something in your days – You would not believe it even if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5).
  3. Watch – Purpose to watch God work even if you do not understand His ways. “I will stand guard on my post. And station myself on the rampart. And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me” (Habakkuk 2:1).
  4. Wait – Do not be in a hurry to get through the uncomfortable emotions and experience. God is always at work even though the process often takes much longer than desired. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries (grief) wait for it, for it will certainly come it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
  5. Acknowledge His attributes and character – “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).
  6. Choose faith – Let go of the need to have all the facts or answers to your questions. “The righteous will live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).
  7. Surrender your will to God’s – Trust Him every step of the way even if His ways are different from yours. “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
  8. Experience grace – “The Lord God is my strength. And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:19).

12 Verses of Promise and Hope for the Downcast Soul

  1. His presence gives hope in times of despair 

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. O my God, my soul is in despair within me; therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar…” Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God (Psalm 42:5-6, 11).

2. His mercy is new every morning 

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him (Lamentations 3:19-24).

3. He has not forsaken you 

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

4. He makes us fruitful in suffering

He named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction (Genesis 41:52).

5. He heals the brokenhearted 

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).

6. He turns what was meant for evil into good 

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive (Genesis 50:20).

7. He works everything together for good to those who love God 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

8. He is an ever-present help 

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1 NIV).

9. He answers me

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will 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 rescues them (Psalm 34:4-5, 7).

10. He is with me 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death You are with me (Psalm 23:4).

11. He accomplishes what concerns me

He will accomplish what concerns me; your loving kindness is everlasting (Psalm 138:8).

12. He makes all things new

Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth, will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19).

“Get alone with God and preach the word into your mind until your heart sings.” John Piper