Curing Chronic Unhappiness–One Day at a Time

despair-257x300Lord, deliver us from the #stronghold of chronic discontentment and #unhappiness.

Many of us are in an emotional limbo–counting on some future circumstance to unlock happiness in our lives. If only I could win the lottery, I would be happy. When I get old enough to leave home, I’ll be happy. If I could just lose weight or get a hair transplant, retire, find love, have a baby, travel, move out of this town, get a better job, get healed.

If only. Hope deferred and many sick hearts. So we rationalize that it’s ok to be unhappy now since we could possibly be happy later. But oh, that nagging question: if I ever get what I say will make me happy...will it? Or when I get there, will I find that I’m still discontent with my life? At what point do I cross the line from having a cryogenically-frozen hope into a place of being irredeemably miserable? What if I’m unable to even BE happy?

Boy, I just struck a nerve! Because unlike the diet and exercise and estate planning we rationalize that we’ll do “tomorrow,” this hits home on a deeper level. For sanity’s sake, there must be some point when we stop living out of our spiritual suitcases and emotional moving crates and say, “You know, I choose to be happy today. Right now in the middle of all this chaos and the things so desperately wrong and incomplete, I’m going to break out that bottle of bubbly I’ve been reserving and celebrate.” Bottle of bubbly? Yes, the dusty,”bubbly” happiness with the vintage label on it that we bought somewhere long ago, thinking we might store it away for a more deserving occasion.

Today might feel like a hollow occasion for celebration. There might actually appear to be no good reason to smile or be thankful. What if I break the seal on that happiness only to find out it’s not all that I’d hoped for?  Why shatter the fantasy?  Or, what if I wind up just wasting happiness on the place I’m in, and I never take steps to go after the things I feel I must have in order to feel complete? Isn’t it better to keep happiness in its display case and maintain the illusion that I can have a perfect circumstance eventually?

No.

Choose to be happy NOW. Now, at the worst possible time, while nothing’s going the way you it to.  While frustration is suffocating you and your circumstances make you feel claustrophobic, trapped. Choose happiness now, not because IT has an expiration date, but because YOU do. And whether you are someone whose face flashes neon discontentment, or one of the untold millions who bury their unhappiness deep behind a facade of pretending they’re fine…fine…I’m FINE…I pray that your cover is now blown and that you are forced to deal with the elephant in the room. Before you reach the end of life and find that, all along, there was enough happiness allotted to spread out over a lifetime if you’d only chosen it.

Pray with me: Father, this may be one of the most important prayers I pray, next to my salvation! I need You to help me with this issue, this spiritual virus of discontentment. It’s been with me for so long now, it’s become part of me and I don’t know how to detach from it. Save me! Not just my soul, my spirit, but please save my emotional well-being. Fix what’s broken in me that’s forgotten how to just be happy. Forgive me for allowing my surroundings to choke out my thankfulness.

Jesus came to give me abundant life, not an existence on autopilot. This chronic lack of happiness is a cancer and I need Your Word to surgically cut it out of me. Please, wash me clean! Your Word says Your mercies are new every morning. It’s been a long night. Day is breaking and I reach to You for that new mercy. I’ll need it today. Teach me to think on the good and pleasant things. Help me to meditate on Your promises. Forgive my backslidings.

David prayed to You to create in him a clean heart, to renew a right spirit, and he asked for Your Spirit and mercy not to be separated from him…and then he asked You to restore the joy of Your salvation. Lord, I ask for no less. Fill me with Your Spirit, and with Your joy. Give me unspeakable, glorious joy that trumps even the “happiness card.”  Your joy will get me through days when I don’t particularly feel happy. In reality, I may be in these circumstances for a while longer…your joy will undergird my choice to be happy even though things aren’t ideal just yet.

I trade up now. I’m swapping this feeling of heaviness for a garment of praise. I’ve been wearing black for far too long now. Please, hand me the loudest, most colorful, least circumstance-appropriate jacket on the rack! Until it comes natural, I will keep confessing happiness and wait for circumstances to line up with my confession.

I say this (whether or not I “feel” it):

Today is a good day. It’s Your gift to me, God. I will find the good in it. I will find the reasons to laugh and give thanks even if I have to write them down! I will stop putting my life on hold. Today, while it appears I’m still in debt, still sick, still lonely, still unfulfilled in my station of life, or still in some circumstance I’d rather not be in, I choose to be happy. While changing a flat or being stuck in traffic or in a smelly doctor’s office or the unemployment line, I choose to be happy. Though someone is betraying me, I choose to be happy. Though someone discriminates against or disrespects or mocks me, I choose to be happy. Though the devil tells me that my life will always be this bad (he lies), I choose to be happy. I will stop putting on fake happiness that people sometimes put on to make everyone think life is perfect–I choose to REALLY be happy.

I will stop saying “if only.” I will go into this day fully expecting and behaving as if everything in it is the best I’ve ever had. As I thank You, my gas station burrito becomes a feast. My mid-lot parking space is so much better than the one all the way out on the far end. And as I trust You, I receive Your peace to let go of hurts, to forgive, to release. I stop punishing myself for not measuring up and I will be happy now, though far from who I want to be. I can be happy later too; but until I get there, I will be happy while I work toward a better set of circumstances. I will be happy even though I’m needing more sleep and more money; though my knee is hurting or my kids all have the stomach flu or my neighbor’s dog won’t stop tearing open my garbage. I’m still alive; it’s not to late to make the best of what I’ve got, and be happy while I do it. It doesn’t mean I’m “settling” for less; I’m settling for MORE because I’m going to be happy now AND later, too!

Happiness (or, “hope-iness,” this first cousin of hope) is one of Your new mercies, Lord! I don’t need enough to last me a lifetime all in one day; I just need enough to last me for today. Like daily bread. There’s more tomorrow but I don’t have to wait till tomorrow for today’s portion. Those things I long for, You already know about. I put them in Your hands…but for right now, I’m no longer waiting till I get them to be happy. In Jesus’ name, today changes everything about how I view my life and my future. Thank You for helping me get it right. If I slip, hold me to this decision to be happy! Never again let me settle for hope deferred, Lord.

Resisting the Spirit of Despair — A Prayer of Deliverance

push back“We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NET)

My prayer today is for those whose trials of life seem like more than you can endure. I understand fully what it is like to be stressed easily. I’m a quiet-natured person who tends to hold in my feelings to the boiling point. On the outside I am cool as a cucumber but inwardly, my cares and worries and stress can be chewing holes in my soul. Then, at the least convenient time possible, I’ve been known to show my vulnerability. Our mouths eventually betray us if we are focused on the negative or if our mentality is one of despair!

Our only defense is God’s Word, and our only righteous boldness is through the Holy Spirit. But that isn’t bad…that’s good in a FOOLPROOF way! When our defense is coming from God and not our own at-times weak abilities, we don’t have to wonder whether we are going to survive. God, our strength and the One Who goes before us in battle, will meet the enemy first and He will wave the victory banner right in Satan’s face. Take a deep breath, and pray with me. We are about to enter into a state of rest–spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally too.

Father, we come to You today asking You to throw up a shield that guards our speech from the ears of the enemy. We are hearing the taunts and suggestions and mockings of the devil, who would try to drown out Your voice…but Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and another they will not follow.” He didn’t say we would never hear other voices, but He did say that we would recognize and follow HIS. We magnify You today and tune our ears to listen for Your guidance.  We are determined that our speech will not betray us and give the enemy a foothold.  May only You hear our distress call and not the devourer…we know You stand ready to rescue Your children!

Help us to become glass-half-full people instead of glass-half-empty! Help us to crave Your Word and to dig in to its strength when we are hit headlong with bad circumstances. We realize that it takes no effort whatsoever to become obsessed with bitter, jaded, selfish, negative thoughts…but we are followers of Christ. Therefore, we have the MIND of Christ, and for that reason, we have a choice. We plead the blood of Jesus over our mind, will, and emotions.

When the devil shows us the bad, help us instead to focus on ways in which we are blessed. When he tells us that our circumstances are permanent and that we are trapped with no way to ever be happy again, remind us that to everything there is a season. We can even come to understand, as Paul, that what we are wrestling now are “light and momentary afflictions” in light of eternity. When we are physically feeling too weary and whipped to put up a fight, send Your ministering spirits to aid and strengthen us. We can trust You. Help us not to be angry and resentful for the season we find ourselves in at this time…and if anger and resentment must be felt, may we turn those emotions into prayer bombs launched against darkness. The origin of trouble is in the spirit realm; help us to stop warring against people, when these battles must be fought on a different battleground.

Father, help us to gird up our minds and to stop courting those things which invite depression and despair. Give us a distaste for movies, music, even news channels or foods that tamper with our state of well-being. Make us aware of what pushes our anxiety buttons, and give us the good sense to walk away from drama every time it tries to let itself into our lives. Curb our appetite for over-stimulation, and teach us to live in simplicity once again. May we value quiet time with You. May we learn to politely say NO to the world’s endless list of favors. Help us to learn from Solomon’s experience when he summed all that chasing after worthless things up to just that–worthless, meaningless pursuits. Help us to stick with fearing You and keeping Your commandments. Help us to stick to loving You first, wholeheartedly, then loving others as ourselves. There is no sorrow attached to the blessings You give us. Your blessings make us rich in ways money can and cannot buy.

Today we cast our burdens upon You, because You care for us. Remind us of that. When we are tempted to dig our burdens back out of the heap and take them home, rebuke us! Thank you for fresh mercy for today, for grace to cover our shame, and for Your Word which is the winning argument to every accusation of our enemy. Thank You for Your joy…the joy of our salvation, the joy which is our strength. Thank You for Your joy even on days we don’t particularly feel happy and satisfied! Thank You for a spirit of laughter to overtake us and wash away the heaviness in our hearts. Medicate us with laughter and lightheartedness as we stretch toward Your light and away from the darkness of our circumstances. Prepare that table for us in the presence of our enemies…so that the enemy is scratching his head saying, “Right in the middle of my worst attack, they’re having a joyous feast???”

We submit to You and in doing so, we make our lives a very inhospitable place for the enemy to camp out. Instead of running toward us, he runs away. The heat of having to hear us quote the Word is more than the spirits of wickedness want to expose themselves to. It reminds them of their own despair in the very near future!

Father, we lift our hands to heaven and receive Your strength. We are that tree in Psalm 1, deeply rooted by the river of water, bearing fruit, covered in leaves, strong, healthy, thriving, fixed, and stable. We do not stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful! We toss out sarcasm and carnality and instead we delight in You and what Your Word says. Our circumstances will NOT dictate our level of thankfulness and peace. When the circumstances are resistant or slow to change, You will work on our hearts instead…so that we can say that we are content no matter what state we’re in.  When we can say that, nothing can move us out of our center of peace! In Jesus’ name, amen.