Even David, the great King who loved God fiercely had times of discouragement. How did King David deal with discouragement? He encouraged himself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30: 6).
“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.”
We all face discouragement at different times in life. Maybe things haven’t turned out the way we imagined, or you thought you would have accomplished certain things by now, or loss has left you empty. It’s natural to feel down, but we must guard against making discouragement our friend. The bible warns us about being careful what we allow to have a home in our heart space.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” ~ Proverbs 4: 23
Emotions can be very powerful for good and for bad. Once our heart is into something, it’s harder to get out, we become emotionally invested whether we acknowledge it or not. It becomes part of our story. A story of discouragement and hopelessness is not our portion. Strength and courage are our portion, not fear and discouragement.
”Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1: 9
The word of God doesn’t suggest that we turn over our minds and hearts from being disheartened. It commands us to do so! Isn’t it disturbing that when we feel like we are in a dark place emotionally, it’s almost as though it’s impossible to get out of it? A cycle is created, where we are so discouraged we don’t want to do anything, then we don’t, then we feel even more discouraged that we didn’t do anything. We dig our own hole to a bad place despite our sincere desire to feel encouraged in life. The enemy deceives us to think we are powerless.
“God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.” ~ 2 Timothy 1: 7
When we are weak, God is strong. The focus of our mind has to shift, from our weakness to His strength. From the failing of the flesh, to the power of the Spirit of God working in us. Alone we cannot overcome, but we have a Saviour who has already overcome all that could possibly be thrown at Him, even death on the cross.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12: 9 - 10
How good God is, that He gave us a spirit that can endure anything! Nothing can destroy us. We read about human atrocities everyday, and yet the people to whom these terrible things happen are standing and sharing. We watch these stories in our comfort with tears of compassion, with anger and disbelief that people go through such tragedies at the hands of fellow humans. Then the most surprising thing happens, we see children playing and laughing in that same place. We see men and women sharing smiles and stories. We witness living testimonies all over the globe. God is close to the brokenhearted.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34: 18
There comes a time when we must surrender all to God and get up. 2 Samuel 12: 16 - 23 tells of how King David was unconsolable when his child was sick such that when the child passed on, his servants were afraid to tell him out of a fear that he might harm himself. His servants were amazed when King David got up and resumed his life. They couldn’t understand what had happened; for a person in clearly agonizing grief to a person going about their routine day. David had surrendered to God. Surrender is an act of worship. The bible says, “cast your burdens unto Him, for He cares for you.” (Psalm 55: 22). There are things that we were never meant to carry. They are too heavy for us.
“Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” ~ 2 Samuel 12: 21 - 23
Perhaps it is not the loss of life, but the loss of a dream that weighs on us so heavily that we struggle to feel encouraged. Take heart that the timing of God is different from our timing. Our social culture says, be an instant success, do this by a certain age and you become “somebody”. The word of God says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3: 8) We may feel like a failure according to the world’s standards, but God isn’t yet done. Be careful that you don’t throw in the towel while God is still at work in you.
“having confidence of this very thing, that he who has begun in you a good work will complete it unto Jesus Christ's day:” ~ Philippians 1: 6
I love the story of Joseph in Genesis 37 - 50. It’s a reminder that the purpose of God in our lives will never be stopped by anyone or anything. God gives Joseph a dream as a seventeen year old boy that he will rule over his older brothers and father; and yet for a very long time it appears that this dream won’t come to be. His brothers try to kill him and then decide to sell him as a slave to a passerby. As a slave he is falsely accused of rape by his masters wife and arrested. As a wrongfully incarcerated prisoner he is forgotten by all who can help him. And yet with every thing that happens to him he remains faithful to God. Every misfortune leads Joseph closer to his destiny despite the difficult forms that it takes. In each and every place where he finds himself, God grants him favour. Imagine being Joseph, would you wonder why you had a dream of being a leader and then you find yourself a slave, and as if that wasn't bad enough, you end up a prisoner? Everything that happened to Joseph would make anyone question if the dream was just a wild imagination, but it was a God given dream, it would never fail. At the end of it all, standing as a ruler in Egypt, Joseph was able to see that the hand of the Lord had been upon him through it all. Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery out of jealousy with the hope that the worst would come to him:
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” ~ Genesis 50: 20
Don’t give up! Even the evil will be turned for your good. Continue in faithfulness, and let God do the rest. Sow even when it feels hopeless. God is the Lord of the harvest. Do your part with excellence and then surrender to God. We can’t just be believing without doing our part, it’s a recipe for disaster.
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” ~ James 2: 17
We get discouraged because we don’t see things happening like we thought they would. Forgetting that faith by definition is our placeholder; we don’t see the thing that we are believing but we take hold of the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11: 1). We can’t understand it all, we may never understand what is really taking place, but we do understand that God is in control.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3 : 5 - 6
For the things that are too high for us to know, let us praise God that He is in control. Put on your garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness, God will give us beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for sorrow (Isaiah 61: 3).
Choose today to rejoice in the day that the Lord has made. God will give us strength if we ask for it.
How do you overcome times of discouragement?
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