I’ve been a little discouraged lately. It’s funny because I know that what I’m discouraged about I shouldn’t be, but that’s the thing about our emotions – it doesn’t matter how we should feel; sometimes we just feel differently regardless of the facts.
Last April I published my book Do You Want to Be Healed? Allowing God to Heal Brokenness in Your Life. Writing a book is a daunting task. I knew then as a first-time author I was unlikely to find a publisher so after several rejections I self-published through the Christian publisher Xulon Press. By doing so I also knew that I would not have the kind of marketing and distribution that comes with publishing through an established publishing house. But because God clearly directed me on this path I was okay with all that.
Fast forward 10 months and it’s a mixed bag of results. On the one hand, most people who have read the book have been profoundly affected by it. That’s great and all the glory goes to God! But I only have about 500 books out there, which is not what I would call success. My vision was for wider distribution not for sales purposes but for getting the message of God’s healing into the hands of people who need it.
Yesterday I received a nice note from Chip Ingram. Chip is a well-known pastor who has written books, done DVD series, and more. He’s doing pretty much what I would like to do. I had sent Chip a copy of my book and asked for his advice. Like I said, I got a nice note back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m SHOCKED he even wrote back and did so personally! But his note was not super encouraging as he related the facts about the book industry shrinking and the difficulty of getting a book such as mine into broader distribution.
Chip isn’t the first person who has given me that kind of feedback. Craig Groeschel responded to me similarly. I heard back from T.D. Jakes and Saddleback Church that they would pray for me. Tyndale Publishing providing me great tips for my next book but said they don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. In fact every bookstore, publisher, book buyer, and literary agent has either declined the book or simple not even responded to my inquirery. While those who have answered have been very kind (and them even taking the time to write me back is a blessing) it’s still discouraging.
Those who know me know that I am kind of an eternal optimist – I always believe there is a way, but right now I feel as if every door I’m trying to open just won’t budge. That’s when I turn to the Psalms.
Misery loves company and I find no better company than King David when I’m feeling like this. When I’m whining that things are not going my way I can always read David’s psalms and find encouragement as he whines to God about how things weren’t going his way either! Let me share some examples:
Psalm 3 – “O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!”
Psalm 4 –“Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress:”
Psalm 64 – “Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy.”
Psalm 86 – “Hear, O Lord, and answer me for I am poor and needy.”
There are two things I love about David’s Psalms: First he pours out his heart to God and tells it like it is. Secondly when you continue reading these and other Psalms you notice a pattern where David starts with his lament and finishes by resolving his issue with praise, trust, and worship of God. It’s that second part I think we miss when we are discouraged.
Here’s what I know about my current situation – God is sovereign and His will certainly will be done as it pertains to my book. The people who God wants to have read it will read it. I don’t have to worry about that. God will open every door that He intends me to walk through and I don’t have to sweat that either. My discouragement is coming from me not meeting my expectations not me not meeting God’s expectations.
In other words my discouragement is coming from trusting in myself too much and not trusting in God enough. Those are hard words to write, because I want to be a man who trusts in God completely, but we all know – if we are honest with ourselves – that is easier said than done.
So as I read Psalms this morning I am reminded of some things I always need to keep in mind:
- God is sovereign – it is His plan not yours
- God is good – He won’t let me down
- Stop whining – nobody likes a whiner and I am sure it annoys the Almighty
- Keep working the plan – eventually the book will get into the right hands as ordained by God Himself
- Trust God more and stop doubting
- Realize Satan wants you to fail and will try to discourage you to keep you from doing what God wants you to do!
- If it is of God it cannot fail
Discouragement can suck the life out of you. When it happens be sure to turn to scripture and see how others dealt with it (Abraham, Moses, David, Job, Ruth, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Hosea, Nehemiah, Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John). See how just like us these Bible heroes got discouraged but then sought God’s face and were renewed by God’s grace, mercy, and love.
There – I’m feeling much better now!
Everyone buy a book!