October 10, 2022 by James Early 11 Comments What do you do to find inspiration? Have you ever had one of those days when you just felt down in the dumps, uninspired, and nothing seems to get you out of the doldrums? You sit there praying and it just seems like words? You try to read and study your Bible but even your favorite stories and verses seem empty and flat? You try to find inspiration but nothing works. Well, join the club. This happens more than we might want to admit. And if it doesn’t ever happen to you, that’s awesome. But when you do feel like you’re in the doldrums, it’s all too easy to think there must be something wrong with you and that it’s all your fault. And that may be the case to a small degree. But it may have nothing to do with you. It may be the mental and spiritual atmosphere around you. All you have to do is to get out of that atmosphere. The word doldrums actually refers to “a belt of calm and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” A ship dependent on the wind for movement can get stuck there because there’s not enough wind to go in any particular direction, until there’s a shift in the atmosphere. It’s not the ship’s fault the wind isn’t blowing. It may be the captain’s fault for navigating into the doldrums, but sometimes, even with careful planning, it just happens. Get some wind in your sails When you find yourself in the doldrums, in a dull, or listless mood, it may be you just need a little “wind in your sails,” a little action in your life, to get you going in the right direction. Where does that wind come from, but God? The book of Proverbs asks, pointing to God, Who holds the wind in his fists?Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak?Who has created the whole wide world? Proverbs 30:4 NLT Well, the obvious answer is God. God has the winds in His fists. God gives us inspiration and gets us moving in the right direction. I love this verse from Psalms. It points us in the right direction. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:11 ESV Have you ever felt this way, just utterly cast down, with no hope, no sense of direction, no inspiration, or no sense that anything will help get you out the mess you’re in? It can be pretty discouraging at times. It can feel like you’re in a sailboat with no wind to fill your sails and move you in the right direction. It can feel like turmoil with no solution. Turning to God is the first step But the second half of this verse actually gives a recipe, if you will, to get a little wind blowing into your sails to get you out of the doldrums. It’s pretty simple: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” The first thing we need to do is refocus our attention on God. Sometimes when I have been overwhelmed with one or more particular challenges, I tend to get a little too absorbed in the problem itself. I thrash around trying to figure out where the problem came from, and how I’m going to solve it, or even how I should pray about it. There’s a time and a place for some of that, but I have slowly learned over many years that you can’t really solve a problem by thrashing around in it and focusing on or worrying about it. As I just said, the first step is to turn your attention to and put your hope in God. If all you do, in trying to solve the problem, is focus on it, the problem will get bigger, or at least it will seem bigger to you, because that’s mostly what you’re thinking about. When you do a complete 180, turn away from the problem and turn toward God, you’re on the right track to find a solution. Now, I don’t mean that you should ignore the problem or pretend it isn’t there. I’m saying to start with the solution, which is God. And when you start with God, it gives you the hope that Psalm 42 is talking about: “Hope in God.” Start with the solution I’ve talked about this before on The Bible Speaks to You Podcast, the idea of starting with the solution instead of the problem. It’s the way Jesus dealt with the challenges, or should I say opportunities, that came to him. He always turned to God first for answers. It’s the model he gave us in the Lord’s Prayer. When you’re praying about something, do you start by telling God what the problem is, explaining it over and over, as if God needs you to inform Him of something? Well, sometimes we do this. But that’s not how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He said we should begin our prayers, or you could say our efforts to solve a problem, with acknowledging God’s glory, power, authority, and kingdom before we ask for anything we need. That’s how the Lord’s Prayer is designed. With the Lord’s Prayer as our guide, Jesus is telling us the best way to solve a problem is to start with the solution, which, of course, is God. Hope in God Now let’s talk about hope. Too many times in my life, I have hoped in or for something beside God, sometimes even when turning to God in prayer. There’s no way to count the number of times I have had a certain hope or expectation for a specific outcome of my prayers. Now don’t get me wrong. I think we should have a sense of hope and expectation when we pray, but if we put more hope and expectation on what we want instead of yielding to and joyfully anticipating God’s will to be done in our lives, we have misplaced our hope. We’re not really hoping in God. Okay, so let’s assume you’ve stopped focusing and fixating on the problem, the challenging situation you’re caught up in, or the gloomy atmosphere you can’t seem to get out of, and you’ve turned to and found a some hope in God. Psalm 42:11, which I quoted earlier, tells us exactly what to do next to find inspiration in our lives, to get out of the doldrums: “I shall again praise him.” The power of praising God It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Hope in, and then praise God. You’re right. It’s pretty straight forward. But there is something incredibly powerful about praising God. It unlocks something in our hearts, something that’s always been always there, but has been sequestered away in our busy approach to life with all its cares and worries. When you praise God, it calls forth your connection with God. You feel your oneness with your divine source. When you feel your oneness with God, it connects you with all your God-given talents, abilities, and resources. So, we’re going to talk about just a few ways to praise God. But first I want to point out one little word that’s easy to pass over in this verse from Psalms. It’s the word again: “I shall again praise him.” It’s not enough to praise God just once. That would be like trying to saw a log in two with only one swipe of the saw. When you’re down in the dumps, it usually takes more than a simple little effort to get out. To get out of the doldrums you need more than one puff of wind. You need a constant flowing breeze. This is why praising God is more than just a one-time effort. Praise God in song There are lots of ways to praise God. You can just start with the words, “Praise God!” Sometimes that’s enough to inspire you and send you on your way. But if those words seem hollow, you might just try a little singing. There are so many Scriptures that encourage us to sing praises to God. Here’s just one example: Sing praises to God, sing praises;sing praises to our King, sing praises!For God is the King over all the earth.Praise him with a psalm. Psalm 47:6, 7 NLT Did you notice that in just these two verses, we’re encouraged to sing praises to God five times. See what I mean? It’s not enough to praise God just once. A teenager’s attitude melts away while praising God Many years ago when I lived in Texas, a friend of mine from church shared a story from when she was a teenager. She came home from school one day in a funk. She was upset, for whatever reasons I don’t remember anymore. But she was in one of those teenager the-world-is-terrible, nobody-likes-me, I-hate-everyone moods. She stomped and stormed into the house almost proud of how upset she was. And she laughed at herself as she was telling this part of the story to me. Her grandfather was the only one there, and tried to console her, but with no success. She was mad and wanted to stay that way. So, instead of trying to help her sort through her feelings and the issues, he simply said, “Well, don’t sing any of the hymns from Sunday School you’ve learned to play on the piano, because that will make you feel better. If you want to stay mad, don’t dare sing any hymns.” On the surface, it sounds like a pretty good effort at reverse psychology, which usually doesn’t work with teenagers. But her grandfather was a very spiritually minded fellow. He knew that if she started singing some of her favorite songs from church, it would help more than anything he could say. In typical teenager defiance, my friend decided to prove her grandfather wrong. She would play those hymns and stay mad. You just wait and see, she thought to herself. She sat down at the piano and played a hymn. See there, I’m still mad, she thought. I’ll do another one. She played another one and sang along this time. Pretty soon, she got so absorbed in playing the piano and singing her favorite hymns, she forgot all about being upset. When she saw her grandfather later that afternoon, he just winked without saying anything. He didn’t need to. But she learned the lesson and for the rest of her life, when things weren’t going well, she would always sing hymns to praise God. And without fail, it would get her out of whatever mental or spiritual slump she was in. I’ve done this too. Now, I don’t play the piano, but sometimes when I’m feeling out of sorts, I’ll sit down and just open my hymnal at random and sing 10 or 12 hymns. I always feel great after I do this. Praise God with gratitude Another way to praise God is with gratitude. Singing and gratitude actually go together quite nicely. I love this verse from Psalms. I will praise God’s name with singing,and I will honor him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30 NLT One of the quickest ways to put wind in your sails, to get out of the doldrums, and to find fresh inspiration in your life is to thank God for every little smidgen of good in your life. You can even thank Him for the lessons you’ve learned from the challenges He’s helped you overcome in the past. I know, that’s not a new idea. But we forget to do it sometimes. In fact, and it may take a while to get there, you can even look at your current challenge, or funk, and thank God right now, in advance, for getting you out of it. Gratitude is a powerful prayer, whenever it’s offered, before, during, or after the thing you’re grateful for. I was floundering Several years ago, I felt pretty discouraged with so many things in my life. I just didn’t seem to have my act together. So many of the projects and life goals I had worked on had either come to fruition and left me not knowing what to do next, or not been completed at all because of my lack of focus or because of resistance and rejection by others. I was floundering. I prayed and prayed, but seemed to be getting nowhere fast. It felt like being in a sailboat on the lake, with no wind, and I was trying to blow into the sails to get things going. My wife suggested I just might need to think about all the good going on in my life and be grateful for every single thing I could think of. Of course, she was right. Gratitude helped me find inspiration I started with the obvious things like being grateful for my home and my family, stuff like that. In spite of all the shortcomings in my life, there was so much good to be grateful for. And I was grateful for the little things too, like pens, pencils, and paper to write on. Books. Windows. Doors. Shoes. The list grew rapidly. And it wasn’t just for material things. I felt renewed gratitude for the deep spiritual blessings and insights God had given me, and especially for my relationship with Him. The more gratitude I expressed, the better I felt. And eventually I got around to being grateful for all the ways God had guided me over the years as well as how I was being guided at that moment in my life. We all have so much to be grateful for. The good that has come to us in years gone by. The good we have right now. And the good we will have in the future. Don’t take any of it for granted. And go ahead and thank God for all the good that hasn’t even appeared in your life yet. It will come. It’s already there waiting for you to see it. How will you praise God? The next time you feel uninspired, down in the dumps, upset, or downright mad at life itself, and you feel like your life is going nowhere, it may just mean you need to shift your focus from whatever the situation is to God. Turn to God. Lean on God. Snuggle up under those proverbial wings of the Almighty. Psalm 91 promises He will cover you with his feathers.He will shelter you with his wings.His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:4 NLT That gives us a sense of hope. So now it’s time to praise God. For me, that means it’s time to sing a song. It’s also time to be grateful for all the good in your life, from the smallest to the grandest things. And I don’t mean just the material things and circumstances in your life. Be grateful for all the spiritual blessings, lessons, and resources God has given you. Gratitude and singing are just couple of ways to praise God. There are so many. What does it mean to praise to God? The word praise comes from a root that means to prize or value highly. To praise God is to acknowledge who He is, to express gratitude, as we’ve already talked about, to express admiration and respect with a sense of understanding our relationship with and our need for God. Praising God is really a form of worship. It’s not about the words you say or the songs you sing. It’s about experiencing God’s presence in your life, acknowledging it, being grateful for it, and rejoicing over it. So if your life feels like a sailboat out on the lake with no wind to move you forward, take a moment right now to start praising God. Pour your heart out in gratitude for all your blessings. Sing every hymn you can think of. Make up your own songs. This is one of the best ways to get some wind in your sails, to get your life moving in the right direction, and to feel the genuine inspiration of God’s presence in your life. ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here. Subscribe to the podcast Support the show ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Bible References Proverbs 30:4 NLT4 Who holds the wind in his fists?Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak?Who has created the whole wide world? Psalm 42:11 ESV 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 47:6, 7 NLT6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;sing praises to our King, sing praises!7 For God is the King over all the earth.Praise him with a psalm. Psalm 69:30 NLT30 I will praise God’s name with singing,and I will honor him with thanksgiving. Psalm 91:4 NLT4 He will cover you with his feathers.He will shelter you with his wings.His faithful promises are your armor and protection.