Dyer was born in 1978, but only stands 3 feet 4 inches tall.
He was born with no legs and without a left arm. His right arm
ends at the elbow with no fingers. Clay is not the kind of guy
most people in Alabama figure would be a professional bass fisherman.
He has spent the last 10 years fishing in about 350 tournaments
and winning 30 of them while placing in the top 10 finishers in
about 20 more tournaments. Clay gets around by shuffling on his
short stumps. He casts by holding the rod between his right arm
and left shoulder while pushing down the release button on the
reel with his chin. He ties his own knots using his mouth, and
lands his own fish — manually pulling them in by wrapping
the line around his arm and swinging them into the boat. He drives
his own bass boat 75 miles an hour across the lakes and occasionally
jumps in the water for a short dip to cool off during his fishing
tournaments. His performance has been good enough to draw sponsorships
electronics, and Strike
King lures. An ESPN
TV crew filmed Clay in action last year, and he has been featured
on CNN and in
Clay is a dedicated Christian who is active speaking with the
Fellowship of Christian
Athletes and other outreaches which minister to youth.
I don't know about you, but I think
it could be really discouraging and depressing to live without
legs and one arm. Most people would think there would be no way
to make a living, no way to have fun, and no way to minister to
others. What Clay did reminds me of the philosophical proverb,
"If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade out of it."
In an article in Sports
Spectrum magazine, Clay said he realized early in his life
with the Lord that there was no secret or shortcut to building
strong faith — he relies on the old standards of daily prayer
and time in the Word. Clay gives God all the glory for what he
has overcome, and says one of his favorite scriptures is Philippians
4:13, "I can do everything through Him who
gives me strength."
Discouragement is a very real part
of life on this fallen planet. Many times things have not gone
the way we prefer. Sometimes it is our own fault through bad choices,
often it is someone else's fault, and usually the devil is behind
it all in some way causing the unfortunate outcome. Particularly
when it comes to Christians, the devil
stirs up persecution in various forms — and the enemy's
favorite way is through other Christians because of the added
discouragement of a "brother or sister" hurting us.
I think the goal is best illustrated by something Ted
Haggard has said over the years — that we are supposed
to be dead to sin and the flesh, so we should have no more emotional
response to insults and persecution than a dead person in a casket
would. However, most of us are not to that place yet in our spiritual
growth, and many times we have been hurt or discouraged by things
said or done to us.
Another minister friend of mine once
pointed out that many people of God in the Bible were discouraged
or depressed at times. Examples include Moses,
We know that their faith in God delivered them. We need to always
make an honest assessment of our situations, but not leave God
out of the equation. Here are some practical things we can and
should do when feeling disappointed, discouraged, or depressed:
(1) Understand that
there are seasons to life — there are times when loved ones
will die, companies will have lay-offs, people may let us down,
or our bodies may fight an infirmity or disease. This is a fallen
world with a devil still active. We need to not take it personal
and overly blame ourselves — getting under condemnation
and guilt — and not blame God (when it is actually Adam
fault!). If we have sinned, we need to confess it as sin. Then,
get our faith up and look for God's answers. That's what David
did when Ziklag
was burned, the families all kidnapped, and David's own men spoke
of killing him (it doesn't get any worse than that).
(2) Take action
— think, investigate, get counsel, and pray to get a plan
to move out of the problem you are in. Do something to change
your situation for the better. It might only be tiny things you
can do each day that eventually make a difference. Depression
is like a tunnel — you may not even be able to see the light
at the end, but there is an end to it and you will reach it if
you keep moving forward no matter how slow the progress might
(3) Be aware of
the acronym HALT. It stands for Hungry,
Angry, Lonely, Tired.
Everything looks and feels worse when those four conditions exist,
so actively address them. To not be hungry, eat small "meals"
more frequently or add healthy snacks between meals to eliminate
the emotions of hunger. Dealing with anger is the most complex
of these four, but it is possible to forgive and release anger
to God. Forgive people by name in prayer who have made you angry,
and tell God you are giving Him your anger, hurts, and pain. Command
the spirit of anger to leave you. The number one reason for depression
is anger that is internalized. Try to end situations that are
frustrating, and try to stay away from people who make you angry.
And consider renting some funny (clean) movies to cheer you up.
To not be lonely, be around other people at church, or call people
on the phone. Get out of the house for some exercise, maybe walk
at a mall. To not feel tired, get to bed earlier so you get enough
sleep. Take a short "power nap" in the afternoons if
it is feasible. And get a nutritious diet that provides level
energy without the highs and depressing "let downs"
that sugar and caffeine cause. (Note: depression that is long-term
and debilitating with no obvious reason could need deliverance
if caused by a spirit, or medical attention if caused by a chemical
(4) Pray. Talk to
God. It is a fact that Christians are never alone. God is always
with us, and He will always understand. We can pour our heart
out to Him. Just talk to Him, and pray to Him with your requests
any time. He may surprise you and tell you the answers to your
need! Or He may work quietly and gradually to change the situation
without even being obvious.
(5) Help someone
else. One of the best ways to get your mind off your own troubles
is to get involved helping other people. This also sets in motion
spiritual principles that cause you to reap help. Also, when you
see people who are in worse situations than your own, it makes
you feel better about your own circumstances. It is like the person
once said, "I complained that I had no shoes until I
met a man who had no feet." Volunteer at your church
or perhaps a local food ministry feeding the poor. Getting out
of just being involved in yourself is healing and healthy.
Much of dealing with discouragement
and depression is dealing with change. Most people don't like
change they did not initiate, yet people or circumstances have
sometimes thrust change upon us which has been discouraging or
depressing. We need to realize we are just stewards in this life
— since we can't take it with us, we don't really own it.
In fact, God owns it all (Psalm
2:8). Accepting the fact that we don't ultimately own or control
the things or people around us helps free us to adjust to change.
We are simply supposed to do our best for God with whatever is
in our ability to influence. Change, failure, or disappointment
should not affect our personal security if our security is in
God. Our self-image or self-esteem need not change if our career
changes, our finances change, our health changes, our relationships
change, etc., if we are completely dedicated to God, and our fulfillment
is in Him. We just need to have faith that "God
causes all things to work together for good to those who love
8:28). God doesn't cause everything, but He can work things
out for us.
We ultimately win if we don't quit.
Christian motivational speaker Zig
Ziglar once said, "Success in business, athletics,
science, politics, etc., seldom comes on the first effort. Walt
Disney went bankrupt a number of times.... Athletic skills are
acquired over a long period of time and after countless hours
of practice. Authors by the hundreds can tell you stories by the
thousands of those rejection slips before they found a publisher
who was willing to 'gamble' on an unknown. It's more than just
a cliche that persistent, enthusiastic effort produces powerful,
positive results; that failure is an event, not a person —
and that the only time you must not fail is the last time you
try. Whatever your target might be, chances are good that you
are not going to hit the bull's-eye on the first effort you make
at being 'successful'. The key is persistence and the willingness
to try again in the face of those early misses."
Ministering to believers,
Dale & Judi Leander