To be discouraged means that you are kicked to the side of the road like a rotten apple. To be discouraged means that you have given up because someone or something has caused you to feel like it’s just not worth trying anymore.
Discouragement prevents you from moving on and getting things done. In fact, when you are discouraged, you usually head in the other direction. Instead of being positive and doing good, you become negative and start doing things like overeating, taking pills, drinking, or participating in some other kind of sin.
This is quite normal behaviour for Christians and non-Christians alike. However, it is the mature Christian who has learned to overcome discouragement. Discouragement is the big monster to be feared. Discouragement takes the wind out of your sails. Sports teams that get discouraged keep on losing, losing and losing.
So how does one overcome discouragement?
Jonah was drowning in the sea. He had just disobeyed God and was getting punished for it.
“As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple” – Jonah 2:7.
One of the first things to do when you are discouraged is to remember that there is a God. Remember God and who He is. God is love. God is kindness. God is mercy. Remember God’s character and how much He loves you.
Another things we can do when we are discouraged is to remember what God has done for us in the past. Think about how God saved you and gave you eternal life. Think of the miracles God has performed in your life. Think of the good things that God has done for you. Think of someone you know that was healed because you prayed for them. Think of something that God did for you. Remember all His blessing that He has given you and you will start to feel encouraged again.
Listen to Asaph, who wrote Psalm 77:
I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion? <em>Interlude</em>
And I said, “This is my fate;
the Most High has turned his hand against me.”
But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.
O God, your ways are holy.
Is there any god as mighty as you?
You are the God of great wonders!
You demonstrate your awesome power.”
Asaph rememberd the good things God had done for him and Asaph was no longer discouraged.
A personal favourite of mine in times of discouragement is to fast. Fasting brings you closer to God and farther from the love of the things of this earth, and farther from the desires of the flesh. When you fast, then pray. As you pray you will feel closer to God and you will again start to feel more encouraged.
For those of you who can, call up a Christian friend and start talking about the Lord. Read the Bible to each other. Talk about God and how good He is. Remember the things that God has done for each of you and you will start to feel encouraged.
It also helps me to remember what Jesus said: “You are the light of the world.” Jesus also said: “”You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”
If someone else comes to you and needs your help and you are drowning in your own self-pity, how are you going to able to help them? How can you be a light to others if you are in the dumps? It helps me to remember that there are other people counting on my to be strong in my faith. My faith in my difficulties encourages them. So I am glad to ride out the waves of discouragement so that I can sail the seas of joy and blessings and peace.
Let’s not fool ourselves. Bad things happen to good people. Trials and difficulties will come. God will test our faith.
In the midst of it all remember that there is a God. He loves you and cares for you. Your faith in God is not in vain. Your faith in God is not a waste of time. Your living for God is providing light for others and they are growing in their faith because of your light that is shining on them.
The Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you!