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God's people need to live by His promises if they are going to overcome the temptations thrown at them. If we are going to empower the despairing ad depressed, we will need to place the King's promises before them. Each visit or phone call should be full of promises from God's Word just as we see God lavishly pouring them out to His people here in Haggai 2. It should be like sticking money in every one of his pockets you find. If he has no pocket to hold the promises, make one!
The root promise is found in Haggai 2:4, "for I am with you." This promise addresses the root problems for their discouragement. This promise will need explanation to bring out its full power and this is what God does in the following verses.
Although we should bring many promises to the heart of a person in despair, we should remember to focus the root promise to the area of deepest need. After this, work on finding other similar promises. Find a theme and keep to this theme. This will reinforce what one has already said. It is far more important to drive one good point home than scatter ten good ones all over. Plant a seed. Water it. Baby it. Protect it. Expect fruit from it.
Often times, we need to put flesh on a promise of God. If the person looks as if he is saying, "What has that verse got to do with me or my problem," then we have some clarifying to do. Remember one seed properly planted is worth far more than ten seeds on the surface or even a whole new big package of seeds that remain in the package!
Calling God's people to take courage points them back to the call of God which they have stored away in their memories. Promises, however, bring hope that God can help one carry out that call. Just to be strong is self-confidence. They already know about failure which destroys self-confidence. They do not need more self-reliance or pep talks for this only reminds them how once before they failed. Then they go back to the lie that they can't do it and might not try again.
They instead need to see how God's call works together with His power. Note Paul's place of confidence.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
His confidence is that it is God working in them to carry it out. We need to be specialists in trusting God. We all know these following verses, but have we all put them to action?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Secularism has in many cases destroyed the power of Christians by convincing them that they need to do it on their own. Yesterday, I told my wife of my plans to follow up on looking for some grants. She immediately responded, "Why are you doing this? When did you start thinking about this?" She knew it can be from the Lord or from the flesh. What a great helpmate!
When we bring the promises to the discouraged, we should be able to see that one or more excuses come to the forefront of their minds. You can usually hear it in their words or at least see it in their face. Oftentimes, we see the lie that says, "You already tried that before. Remember?! Don't be a fool trying that again."
In this case, we can do several things. The window of opportunity is short. Pray silently for them and yourself. If you cannot pray with them aloud, you must somehow show them that God's promises never failed them. They either misunderstood it, misapplied it, or as in many cases turned to trusting oneself. This can be affirmed by checking out their spiritual life during that time. Ask them specifically, "How often they had prayed and read God's Word?" Try to see if they were trusting the Lord and didn't have a bitter heart.
The promises of God are so powerful. They simultaneously implant faith and expectation in the way God can accomplish His otherwise impossible tasks through your life. Quote God's promise and then repeat it in your own words. Explain it like the Lord took great lengths to explain how this promise of God's presence had to do with His command to build the temple. Promises build up faith which in turn foster a willingness to take the right step of action. Leading people out from depression will require this tender kind of leading them, step by step.
Depression is common, but God seeks to take His people quickly out of it. Depression can enter a Christian's life from many different angles, but more than often it is because they have stopped meeting with God. Or if they are having devotions, they no longer meet God. They have become ineffective.
God brings hope into His people's lives by entering their lives through His faithful servants which bring His truth, compassion and promises to them. God's servants must be clean, regularly praying and meditating on His Word to be used.
They need to call people to 'take courage' or 'be strong' but also to speak out the appropriate promises of God. By calling them to take courage, they exercise their will and mobilize their trust in God. By hearing and trusting His promises, they are empowered to do what they couldn't do for such a long time. God never communicates His willingness for people to stay in places of disobedience. God's will is that they by His strength do His glorious will.
We see that in verse 18 that within 2 months time, they were fully back in operation rebuilding the temple. God had such confidence in their work this time, that He already reversed the curses to blessings.
18 "Do consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; from the day when the temple of the LORD was founded, consider:
19 "Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree, it has not borne fruit. Yet from this day on I will bless you."" (Haggai 2:18,19, NASB).
We have looked at two cycles. At each cycle's low, God intervened. By intervening and speaking through the prophet, God actually led His people out of discouragement and depression. We acknowledge there might be some overlapping of terms and procedures, but clearly the pro-active intervention of God stands out most clearly in these cases. God was never content to let people stay in their discouraged ways.
God always has a solution if man wants to hear it. We need to be more dependent on the Lord so to gain His wisdom and insights. We need to pass on a compassion that only comes from God.
This case study is partial in many ways, and yet hopefully it serves to stir up our responsibility to pray and seek the restoration of those bound in their sins and darkness. We need not administer drugs as His servants. We minister His truth and promises. Each cycle's low was broken when God's people heard the truth. This should motivate us more and more to trust God to be able to break the psycho-babble that is so common and confusing and adopt God's own patterns of counseling.