I received this plaque from my mother some time ago – I believe that she gave one to my brother, too.
She would always remind us to persevere through the difficulties of life like the train featured in the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could. “I think I can. I think I can,” the little engine cried, as she encouraged herself up and over the hill, and accomplished far more than she ever thought possible.
I am grateful for the people God has placed in my life who encourage me. They come alongside me and remind me, “I think you can! I think you can!” – even when I am feeling doubtful. I cherish these supportive individuals, and thank God for each and every one of them.
However, as in The Little Engine That Could, sometimes we have to find ways to encourage ourselves. As wonderful as it is to have people cheering us on during the hard times, we have to be able to comfort and encourage ourselves, too. We have to remind ourselves that God is faithful and will do as He has promised, even when everything around us looks bleak (or in some cases, downright impossible!).
Lest you think I’m relying solely on children’s literature for my inspiration tonight, consider a verse from Psalm 42 that addresses this very issue:
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:5, NIV).
David was having a rough time, and acknowledged this to himself (“why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?”). He took a moment to soberly assess how he was feeling, and recognized that he was not in a good place.
However, he didn’t stop there. David gave himself a spiritual pep talk by reminding himself of God’s faithfulness, and choosing to praise Him, even when things looked bad (“Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God”). David encouraged himself in the Lord.
If you read the rest of the chapter – the verses preceding verse 5, as well as the ones that follow it – you’ll observe that David is still in a tight spot. He remains in anguish, and his heart is still troubled within him. Yet the chapter ends with a decision to encourage himself in the Lord again, using the very same words he uttered earlier:
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:11, NIV).
I am grateful today for the ability to encourage myself in the Lord, even (especially?) when I find myself in an impossible situation. In fact, if I’m honest, God has me in a pretty challenging spot now, and a choice is before me: I can follow the examples of the little engine that could (and did!) as well as David’s story from the Bible. Then, I can look at the “mountain” around me – the circumstances that seem impossible – and say to myself, “I can! I can!”
There is a biblical basis for this claim, too. According to Philippians 4:13 (NKJV),
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I think I can, I think I can.
I know I can, because He can do all things.
And if He can do all things, then I can trust Him, even when things are hard.
And if I can trust Him when things are bad, then I can praise Him, too.
And if I can praise Him during the hard times, then I can encourage myself when the following question crosses my mind:
“Why, my soul, are you so downcast?”
I can, because He can do anything. This is what I call the can-do attitude.
So here is my prayer for today: Dear God, thank You for the reminder that I can do more than I realize, if I put my hope and trust in You. Help me to take a moment to encourage myself in You when life gets particularly challenging, and to remember to have a faith-based “can-do” attitude. I can persevere, because You can do anything! Remind me to keep my focus on You and Your power, rather than thinking too much about my problems and trying to find my own flawed ways of solving them.
Thanks also for the honest stories in the Bible that show people genuinely struggling in their relationship with You. David loved You passionately, yet his own spirit was downcast and discouraged when the circumstances of his life seemed overwhelming. Odd though it may seem, such stories provide some comfort to me. l don’t need to pretend to have everything together (especially when I don’t), and it’s okay to be honest about my struggles, so long as I remember to trust that You have a good plan for my life, and that You are in the process of working it out according to Your timetable. I can persevere, because You can do all things. Thank You for Your faithfulness! In Your name I pray, Amen.