Discouragement and disappointment are normal emotions we all experience even as Christians, but it’s important to know how to make sure that those debilitating emotions don’t get the best of us. First, let’s look at four reasons why we get discouraged and disappointed …..
Job felt discouraged with his wife and friends. They didn’t get it. In the midst of his suffering and questioning God, they tried to be helpful, but they ended up heaping more shame and blame on Job for his afflictions(Job 2). We, too, can feel let down by our friends and family. They don’t understand what we’re going through or don’t offer to help as we wish they would. Our disappointment can turn to discouragement ….
Elijah became discouraged with life’s circumstances. Despite our persistent and fervent prayers, things don’t turn out the way we’d hoped they would. Elijah hoped that after all the miracles the Israelites saw performed on Mount Carmel, Ahab and Jezebel would repent and put God first, but they did not. King Ahab and Jezebel were as stubborn and hard hearted as always, and Elijah felt discouraged, exhausted, and told himself that his entire ministry was a waste (1 Kings 19) ….
Jeremiah felt angry and discouraged with God when he believed God was against him, and because of that perspective, he temporarily lost hope in God (Lamentations 3). The disciples too, felt discouraged after Jesus was crucified, before he rose from the dead. They said, “we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel” (Luke 24:21). They couldn’t see the bigger picture and felt disappointed that Jesus did not fight for his kingdom ….
Peter felt discouraged with himself when he realized that he wasn’t as courageous as he thought he was. Jesus had warned him that he would deny him, but Peter’s pride kept him from seeing himself clearly (Matthew 74-75). We too can often feel discouraged and even feel depressed when we fail to live up to our own, or someone else’s expectations ….
Discouragement happens, even to the strongest and best of people. Let’s look at five steps that you can take when you start to feel the black cloud of discouragement swallowing you up ….
1.) Be Honest ~
It does you no good to pretend you don’t feel what you feel. You can’t take action against a negative feeling until you first admit you have it. A strong Christian is not someone who never experiences negative feelings. It’s someone who has learned what to do with them when he or she has them and how to process them biblically ….
2.) Take Care of Yourself ~
If your body isn’t working, your mind, emotions, and will are also weakened. I love how God tended to Elijah’s body first—before addressing anything else and provided ravens to feed him. Sometimes the circumstances of life drain us dry, and we need to press pause, stop doing, and simply rest and refresh ourselves …..
3.) Pay Attention to Your Thoughts ~
Maturing as believers means we learn to think truthfully (Phillipians 4:8), and to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). This last scripture verse is especially important when negative thoughts become accusing or cause us to begin to obsessively think ungodly or untruths ….
All of us attempt to make sense of the things that happen in our lives. We try to figure out why they happen and what it all means. It’s crucial that we pay attention to what stories we are telling ourselves about ourselves, about others, about God, or a particular situation, and whether or not those stories are actually true. For example, if you look at what Elijah was telling himself after he became discouraged, much of it was not true, (1 Kings 19), yet because he thought it, it added to his misery and hence discouragement set in ….
Jeremiah was also telling himself things about God that were not true but because his mind believed his version of reality instead of God’s, he lost his hope. Read through (Lamentations 3). Notice in (v. 21) Jeremiah begins to have a change of mind and heart. He says, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.” When his thoughts changed his negative emotions also lifted even though his circumstances stayed the same …..
4.) Train Yourself to See ~
When the apostle Paul counsels us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2), he is telling us that our mind needs to be trained to think differently than we have in the past. Part of this training is to learn to see both the temporal (life is hard) and the eternal (God has a purpose here) at the same time. Paul speaks honestly of his temporal pain when he says he is hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. Yet, he did not become crushed, despairing, abandoned, or destroyed. Why not, you ask? Because he learned to firmly fix the eternal perspective on his spiritual eyes. He says, “Therefore we do not lose heart .… While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:8-18) ….
Paul never minimized the pain of the temporal, yet discouragement didn’t win because he knew that God’s purposes were at work. Read (Phillipians 1:12-14) for another example ….
5.) Press in Close To God ~
The truth is life is hard, people do disappoint and hurt us, and we don’t always understand God or His ways. The prophet Nahum talks about a day of trouble and reminds us: “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7). If we’re not in a close trusting relationship with God, life’s troubles can become unbearable. The psalmist cried out, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27).
In closing (yesss finally), one final tip. The best way to chase out a negative feeling is with another feeling. The Bible teaches us “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Gratitude is a powerful anecdote for discouragement. We may not be able to give God thanks for the difficult situation that we find ourselves in, but we can learn to look for things we can be thankful for, even in the midst of it. Affirm yourself daily: “I am beautiful” …. “I am smart” ….. “I am loved and cherished by the Creator of the world who knows my name” ….. Self-affirmations will dispel those negative thoughts the more that you say them and begin to believe them!
“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”
Let us pray ~
How I thank and praise You my Father, that You are my light and my salvation, my courage and the strength of my life, and that there is nothing to fear, when You are nearby. Lord my hope is in You for I know that no enemy can penetrate the spiritual wall of protection that surrounds me in Christ, and that nothing can touch my life that You do not permit … if I remain in Him, Who is my light and the upholder of my life.
Help me to study Your word with all diligence, knowing that all I need to live godly in Christ Jesus is contained within its pages and as I progress along my Christian walk, may I be ready to give an answer to all who ask about my eternal hope in Jesus. Give me I pray, the courage to speak boldly, but in love ~ in Jesus name I pray, Amen
God is with us …..