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Overcoming Discouragement

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Have you ever had one of those days where the smallest thing sets you off? One of those days where everything has gone right until that one moment… and it’s as if reality is crumbling before your eyes. All because of one bad move. One bad conversation. One bad decision. One bad thought. And you plunge into the downward spiral of discouragement. I definitely have. On the brink of making one of the biggest decisions I’ve made in a while, I find myself wrestling with the “am I making the right choice?” syndrome. Am I moving to the right school? Will I be okay on my own? Am I going to be in debt forever? Am I really making a difference? And then I find myself ashamed about even having these questions. I tell myself I need to trust God more. Stop worrying. Stop over-thinking. Stop planning. Just stop. But it’s hard, isn’t it? It’s hard to stop worrying over the things that we worry about in life. We’re wired to be problem-solvers, planners, thinkers, builders, helpers…and when circumstances keep up from doing those things effectively, it is easy to panic and feel inadequate. We become swallowed up in discouragement.

Discouragement is one of the top rivals of our joy. It weakens us. Wounds us. And will kill us… if we don’t find a way to escape it. Discouragement does whatever it can to distort our perspective so that we focus on our situation more than on the One who has power over our situation. I know that when all I do is think about the stress of my current situation, I am stripped of my ability to think the way God thinks. It blinds me to His promises and deafens me to His voice.

I have found in my own life that I get the most discouraged when I am “doing more.” It sounds ironic, but anytime that I work harder to plan something, fix something, write something, or accomplish something I get more and more discouraged the more invested I become. I feel like I’m not doing enough to complete the task or that everything I’m working so hard for will be for nothing.

But it’s teaching me a valuable lesson. That this feeling of inadequacy is a gift. That’s right. A gift.

I never realized that before, but God is teaching me through my discouragements, my inadequacy is the perfect ingredient for His sufficiency. When I come to Him empty-handed and exhausted, He is more able to fill me with His fullness and strength. And I am much more able to accomplish what I had set out to do. My mind is clear. My emotions are less fluctuating. My perspective is shifted. And I realize that I was never meant to do all this on my own. The discouragement starts to melt away.

I think it’s important that we reach the destination of inadequacy, because without that raw, uncomfortable feeling, we may never realize just how much we need Him. And that we can do nothing apart from Him.

John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” When we desire to abide in Him the way it talks about in this verse, discouragement doesn’t stand a chance. Why? Because we are connected to the life-source. We have access to the One who can take the ashes and turn them into beauty…pain and turn it into purpose…discouragement and turn it into hope. It doesn’t matter what we face, God has the ability sustain us.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In Psalm 55:22 the psalmist writes, “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you.” And 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” Jesus is waiting for us to come to Him so that we can receive the peace and rest that He graciously provides. It is up to us to respond.

When we absorb this truth of the Word, we realize that we really have no reason to be discouraged! We have God on our side, relieving us of the pressure that accompanies obligations of life. But we have to be intentional about savoring this truth to memory. We have to train our minds to recollect God’s promises. So that when the next wave of discouragement comes, we know where to turn and we can escape the gravitational pull of self-pity. Instead, we turn to the truth of God reminding us…

We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)

We have a purpose and a plan (Jeremiah 29:11)

He is our refuge (Deuteronomy 33:27)

He will never forget us (Isaiah 49:15)

We are His children (1 John 3:1)

We are loved (John 3:16)

We are overcomers (John 15:33)

He sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17)

We have been redeemed (Isaiah 43:1)

We have the Spirit of God within us (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

There is nothing we can do to be separated from Him (John 10:28)

The promises of God enable us to widen our perspective and see that God holds our situation in His hands. We are never alone. Never abandoned. This isn’t to say that we will never again be discouraged. Life happens and situations can grab our attention so swiftly that it can be easy to react naturally with discouragement. But maybe, we can start to let God’s truth shape the way we think so that our vulnerability to discouragement might be less-prone than it normally would be. Maybe we can get the upper hand on discouragement.

With minds set on the truth of Christ, we can choose to fight for these promises every day of our lives and take hold of that which have attained in Christ, as 1 Timothy 6:12 says. Then we might find hope to lift us out of our overwhelming situations of discouragement, knowing that it’s okay to have questions and it’s okay to not have it all together. We know the One who is… and that’s all that matters. With Him, there is nothing we cannot overcome.

“Fear not for I am with you; don’t be discouraged, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” –Isaiah 41:10-


Questions for Today:

“The Rock Won’t Move” by Vertical Church Band

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