Who Can You Call When All Seems Hopeless?


September 1999

Dear Ministry Friends,

My father had master's degrees in both theology and counseling along with decades of experience helping people. In a conversation we had, he once quoted an old saying to me. He said, "Life is difficult." No one escapes some bumps and bruises in life, because we live in a fallen world. The Bible tells us that the devil is the god of this world (2nd Cor. 4:4). And the devil is a cruel, mean, evil, and unfair god.

So regardless of the type of difficult, hurtful, or challenging problems that have come into a believer's life, our Heavenly Father is not the author of it. (Remember, the Garden of Eden was a wonderful life until Satan came in!) Therefore, we can go to God with our problems, and He can help us recover. This is the reason there is hope for those who have been through disappointment, discouragement, and burnout.

Isaiah 42:3 (NAS) says, "A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish." Sometimes people feel like they are just barely hanging on. The devil tries to snuff them out any way he can — quickly or slowly — depending on the disposition of the person. But God wants to help every one of His children heal up into robust spiritual and emotional health — if we will go to Him for His help and follow His instructions.

The first goal is to stop slipping deeper into despair, depression, apathy, or emotional numbness. These situations are characterized by a lack of emotional energy. The emotional energy is drained away much like a car battery can go dead. It can happen slowly over time because a light is left burning. Or it can happen fast because of a direct short.

Burnout (and its slightly less severe condition called burndown) result from a depletion of the stored, happy experiences in the emotional reserve within our soul. Unhappy experiences drain this emotional "battery" slowly if we are not having enough happy experiences to charge it back up. In addition, a study by the Minirth/Meier Clinics showed that unforgiveness was the most common element in the lives of patients being counseled for burnout. Unforgiveness is like a "direct short" to the emotional battery within us — it drains people faster and further to the point that many have had to seek professional counseling.

Many people do not realize they have unforgiveness. But the "symptoms" of the "disease" are anger, resentment, and bitterness. These attitudes might be towards others that have hurt us (whether living or dead) or even toward God! But these "direct shorts" of unforgiveness in our emotional batteries will drain us of the life-giving energy that God wants for each believer.

Forgiving others is a choice that benefits us, not them. They will be accountable to God for their own actions — receiving the consequences in this life and eternity. But we must forgive if we want to stop being tormented by the various problems that can plague a person's life (Matt. 18:34-35). We forgive others through our words and actions. First, we pray a prayer verbally telling God we forgive them. Second, we demonstrate it through our actions. Forgiving people doesn't mean we have to trust them, or even spend time with them. But if we do communicate with them, it will be pleasant and kind rather than being terse, angry, or silent.

After a person stops the emotional depletion, then the second goal is to replenish the soul with positive experiences. This may mean making some deliberate, thought-through decisions and changes in one's life. (Get my free book, How to be Led By the Spirit, Volume One.) Care needs to be exercised to not do anything foolish or rash. But most people can make changes to stop the hurting and help the healing.

The first and most important area is positive spiritual help. Being a part of a life-giving church each week is most valuable. Even more important is daily devotional time with God. Reading in Psalms and Proverbs is good, especially in the Living Bible paraphrase translation. The motive is not to impress God or perform better. It is to just have time with our Heavenly Father and receive spiritual strength and nourishment from His Word. In prayer, devotional communication (telling Him how we feel) is often more valuable than presenting petitions (asking for things). And a valuable step in prayer is to tell God we are giving Him our hurts, problems, frustrations, or anger. He can literally take those things if we give them to Him.

Next, a person's diet can affect their energy, attitudes, and motivation. There are critical chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine that are essential to normal nerve activity in the brain. And of course, regular vitamins and minerals are necessary for all normal functions in the body. And nobody should say "McDonalds" if we are looking for robust nutrition. We have to expend effort to get healthy, nutritionally balanced meals.

Another key to recovery and prevention is just plain old fun. Some Christians don't think fishing or playing baseball is spiritual. But it was God's idea to require a Sabbath rest from work. Of course, some people are lazy and need a revelation that they should work! But most people suffering from disappointment and burnout need to take time off. Jesus Himself demonstrated this when he heard his cousin was beheaded (John the Baptist). He took His disciples away from the crowds for rest and recovery (Mark 6:27-32). Persons in people-helping professions need this time off even more because of the constant pain and problems they deal with.

One trap to avoid is the trend in our fallen society for entertainment that has shifted from "re-creation" to "wreck-creation." God's plan for recreation is to re-create peace, joy, and happiness. The world's "entertainment" is filled with sin, violence, anger, fear, and other stress producing elements causing people who are seeking "fun" to become emotional wrecks! What we watch, listen to, and do — will make all the difference in the world (Mark 4:24-25).

Having run out of space, let me say I have many more powerful insights into emotional health with practical applications in several related teaching tapes, as well as a free booklet written by my father titled, Keys to Mental and Emotional Health: The Great Discovery of Karl & Will Menninger. And my prayer for you is Psalm 22:5 (NAS), "To Thee they cried out, and were delivered; in Thee they trusted and were not disappointed."

An Overcomer,

Dale Leander

P.S. — In all honesty, God has granted me tremendous revelations from His Word which He wants me to share with others. Please do not under-estimate the power and benefit of these teaching materials.


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