Discouragement. I’m sure you’ve been there. Maybe you are there.
Have you ever been simultaneously discouraged and encouraged at the same time? It’s an awkward way of feeling, but I have found that it is sometimes the case.
What do you do when you are discouraged? How do you battle through it? Does music lift your spirit? Does getting alone with God in prayer and in his Word bring you encouragement? Are there people that can help you through your hard times?
Maybe you don’t battle anymore. You’re tired. You’ve given up the fight. You just let whatever is discouraging you rob you of your joy until something else comes along to take your mind off of it.
I have battled discouragement, and I still do! But I have found, in God’s Word, the call to rejoice! In fact, James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” God’s Word teaches us to rejoice in hard times of life. Even when you are discouraged.
If you’re like me, the last thing on your mind when you are discouraged is rejoicing. Even when you check off all your blessings and see how they outweigh the bad things in your life. For instance, I would look at how God has blessed me with my family, my church family, my ministry and the opportunities God has given me, my needs being met on a consistent basis, and so on. But…I would come back with, my kids are driving me nuts right now; I can’t figure out people and how to make them happy with the church; I don’t know if I’m cut out for the pastorate; My ministry isn’t taking of like so and so’s ministry; I wish I had a different vehicle; and so on.
Do you ever do that? Even when you’re counting your blessings, do you find discouragement? Let me share with you what I have learned, and I hope that it will encourage you in some way.
First, and this is the most important, don’t quit the battle! Don’t give up fighting discouragement. It is a reality that we will all face! But it doesn’t have to win the battles, and if you are in Christ, it will not win the war.
Second, discouragement, at least in part, comes from a lack of understanding God and his Word. Paul told the church in Philippi, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (emphasis mine). He also told the church in Thessalonica, “Rejoice always“ (emphasis mine). In Christ, no matter what, we are to rejoice. But how can we do that?
God’s Word gives us the answer and encourages us in this way: “31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)
How encouraging is that? Whatever you are facing in your life that is bringing you down, it cannot, I repeat CANNOT, separate you from Christ. He has already won the war and through him, you are able to conquer whatever comes your way. But only through Christ!
Do you have Christ in your life today? Be encouraged that you are more than a conqueror in him! Whatever you’re up against, he can handle it! Don’t give up the fight! Keep battling discouragement!
Another part of our lack of understanding is that we don’t know why something is happening in our life. We take our eyes off of God and look at our situation. Why is this happening to me? When will this end?
Do you believe the Bible? Do you believe that God is in control? I know we answer a quick yes to both of those questions, but when we’re in the middle of discouragement, we will find out the truth of what we believe.
God’s Word teaches: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) (emphasis mine). All things! The diagnoses from the doctor–working for your good. The letter of termination from your job–working for your good. The foreclosure of your house–working for your good.
But I don’t see it! Of course, we can’t see it! We’re not God! We just have to trust him and take him at his Word that he is working all things together for our good. We may never see it this side of heaven. Second Corinthians 4:17 promises us, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Don’t lose heart! Look to Jesus! As he said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The final lesson that I have learned in discouragement is we often fall into the trap of comparison. As a pastor, this happens to me far too often! I give my all just to have people leave the church, while someone else seems to constantly be growing numerically. I realize that my platform is not big, but I question why someone else’s book, blog, podcast, or sermon gets more recognition. Why don’t I get invited to speak or be involved with this or that?
There’s a word for that: petty! I would be lying to say that I don’t have dreams and aspirations because I do. But at the same time, God has me where he has me right now. Instead of comparing myself to everyone and anyone else, I should just focus on what God has in front me today.
Maybe you have fallen into the trap of comparison. You don’t have to be a pastor for this to be true of you. This could be true in your job. Maybe you feel more qualified for a position that was given to someone else. This could be true in your family. Maybe you have a sibling that is always getting the recognition or the attention. This could be true in you service at church. Maybe you really want to run the children’s ministry, but someone else is better equipped to do it.
Don’t be discouraged! Flourish where God has you now! Just like we don’t know why the trials and tribulations come but only that they are working for our good, God has you where you’re at right now to prepare you for the future he has in store for you!
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment! If this helped or encouraged you in any way, please feel free to share it!