A brisk chill wafting, colorful leaves floating earthward and shorter days welcome autumn once again. Ah, nice transition with summer temperatures escaping the scene. Furthermore, we’re slap bang in the middle of football season. Just like that. Time to trifle away hours watching our favorite teams perform. During halftime, I imagine the losing coach makes an ear-splitting declaration. Captivated, or rather intrigued, I wonder what he yells in the locker room as he rallies the players. What tactics will motivate his men and cause them to out-wrangle the opposing squad? Does he exhibit the role of a cheerleader or a demanding drill sergeant? Maybe both. “Hey, you sissies! Wake up! We’re behind two touchdowns!” Capisce? “Now, go out there, get your head in the game, and show everybody what you’ve got or else!”
What a toughie—chastisement. At any rate, I emphatically root for the underdog. After all, encouragement goes a long way. On the other hand, what if we plod along day by dutiful day and there’s no one to lift our spirits? It’s daily disappointments that threaten to consume our emotional resources and deflect our attention away from God. Meantime, solutions exist. We have great examples in the Old Testament. Off hand, I think of the prophet Habakkuk who chose to lift his head, thanking the Lord for blessings. He trusted God even though he felt despair and didn’t understand His overall plan “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food, though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NKJV).
Another illustration comes from a man that actually talked to his own soul when trouble overwhelmed him. I’m speaking of fugitive shepherd-King David. Finding himself alone on many occasions and running for his life, he spoke, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 43:5 NKJV). Next time we feel defeated or behind in the game of life, maybe a scriptural pep talk directly to our souls would help. Can’t say I’ve done that lately, especially aloud, but I’m willing. If it helped David, it’s good enough for us. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul and all that is within me, bless His holy name” (Psalm 103:1).