In any evening news report, the segment on the economy generally indicates the outlook on the stock market as “bullish” or “bearish”. Bull markets are characterized by optimism, investor confidence and expectations that strong results will continue. Bear markets, on the other hand, are market conditions filled with widespread pessimism and negative sentiment. In either case, the description is that of a trend filled with good days and bad days with a long-term direction headed up (bull) or down (bear).
It’s easy, whether from a series of personal tragedies or recent events in society, to attribute these negative sentiments to the trajectory of our daily life. When life leaves you feeling “bearish” it’s tempting to want to throw in the towel and hibernate. Don’t give up! Consider these thoughts from the book of Judges; they are simple reminders to help encourage yourself and others to charge ahead!
Deviate from your daily routine. When reading through Judges, it’s easy to gloss over the span of time it took for the cycle of sin-oppression-repentance-deliverance to take place. Years, decades, and even full lifespans were spent in some of these stages. With our hindsight it is easy to see the changes that would have helped them, yet they, like us, did not know what the future would hold. When we find ourselves in a state of doom and gloom, we can change our attitude in the present despite the unknowns of the future. Taking a break from watching the daily news, declaring a blog or Facebook fast, or even avoiding conversations with those that bring us down can do wonders for the mood. Instead, fill that time with something that’s sure to be encouraging. This brings us to the next point.
Meditate on the Word of God. We are blessed to have the revealed Word at our fingertips. It is instant reminders of God’s continual care for his people recorded throughout history. Even during times of Israelite oppression, there were still those seeking to be right with God. Gideon needed reminding of God’s deliverance out of Egypt and previous victories in the land. When we’re feeling bearish the scriptures will bring us comfort. Meditate on Psalm 34, see the perseverance of the apostles in Acts 4, renew your desire to stand fast (II Thessalonians 2), and dream of our heavenly home (Revelation 21).
Congregate with fellow Christians. We see time and again the negative impact that building relationships with the people of the land had on the Israelites. However, we also see the influence of Deborah and Barak joining together in praise and triumph over Sisera. Surely, this was a morale booster. The strongest of Christians are not immune to periods of discouragement, sadness, or fear. Sometimes we need more support from our Christian family than the usual meeting times. Summertime is filled with opportunities to serve and stir up one another (in a good way) (Hebrews 10:24)! Kick hibernating to the curb by spending extra time influencing and being influenced at VBS, camps, gospel singings, or mission trips.
Educate those in your sphere of influence. Perhaps the most glaring of lessons to be taken from Judges is that failure to educate the next generation leads to unwanted consequences. A bearish, bleak outlook can leave us feeling helpless to impact the future. As Christians, let’s take whatever negative circumstances we face as an opportunity to renew our resolve in educating our children in the ways of righteousness. We may not be able to direct changes to laws or save a sinking economy, but we can direct our children and grandchildren to The One who can save their souls.
We may see things as bad now. They might get better or they might get worse. Regardless, we see throughout the book of Judges that God’s purpose will be accomplished in any circumstance. He used many unsuspecting people with a variety of talents then, and he can use us now. Just remember, we are much more useful as charging bulls than sleeping bears.
Kathryn is married to Andy Baker who preaches for the Maud church of Christ in Maud, TX. She stays at home with their 3 children. In her spare time, she enjoys food (both cooking and eating!), gardening, and taking their Boston terrier for walks.