Saturday, March 1, 2014


Discouragement- the act of making something less likely to happen or making people less likely to do something; a feeling of having lost hope or confidence; something that discourages someone. Sound familiar? Discouragement is one of those common experiences that we have all faced at some time or another. It is no small threat. It has potential to make good things less likely to happen in our lives, to rob us of hope. Because it can be such a powerful force, it is so important that we recognize it and are prepared to deal with it.
There is a verse that I have always loved in Joshua 1:9. It says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." I have memorized that verse. I have sung that verse. But my focus on the verse has always been on fear and terror. I have used it to bolster my courage and confidence a thousand times over. Only recently did I notice the second part of the command. Did you see it? Do not be discouraged. God himself knew that discouragement could defeat an army. He knew that if people lost their hope, that they would be immobilized and great things would be far less likely to happen in their lives. He knew it was such a powerful foe that he commanded us not to give into it.  Discouragement leads us to giving up. It is a burden that directs all our vision onto our troubles, and distracts us from the hope ahead. I have had moments in my own life where discouragement has literally taken my breath away. You too?
So what are we to do? I think to come up with a solution, you first have to recognize the problem. It seems to me that there are four conditions that set us up for discouragement: 1) When we are tired, 2) When we are worried,  3)When we are scared, and 4)When something seems impossible. To keep those conditions from making us vulnerable, here are some things to help us fight off discouragement.
When We Are Tired:
" Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  No one is immune to fatigue, especially when we are carrying heavy burdens, but when we trust in God he will give us strength and allow us to keep moving forward. He encourages us to give our load to him, to allow us to continue on. Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Psalm 55:22. If we aren't careful weariness can drive us to discouragement, and discouragement can stop us in our tracks; but hope allows us to continue to walk through trial. If you are tired, do not be discouraged, but allow him to carry your burden and give you rest. Don't forget the hope you have in him!
When We Are Worried:
Worry is such a great source of discouragement. I think Satan must just love to see us sit and rock our selves in our rocking chairs of worry. We put out so much effort and get absolutely nowhere! “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-26. So we aren't to worry about life, but seriously Anna, that can be a little hard to do. How do we keep from worrying? Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  Let me ask you this. When you are worried about something do you spend more time talking to yourself and friends about it or God? If you are finding yourself discouraged because of worry, talk to God. I promise you he is able to bring a peace that you have never experienced if you do!

When We Are Scared:
This one is a whopper. Fear can lead to discouragement faster than a match can lead to fire! So be ready! "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10. Fear is a lie that Satan tells us to make us think that we have been abandoned; that God cannot do what He says He can do. When you are threatened with those thoughts, remember the truth. God is with you. He will strengthen and help you. Do not let fear lead you to discouragement. In the movie Point Break Patrick Swayze has a line that says, "Fear causes hesitation and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true." There is a lot of truth in that. All Satan needs is that moment of hesitation to discourage us. Don't let fear cause hesitation in your faith!

When Something Seems Impossible:
The grand finale for discouragement is when we are faced with something that seems impossible. Laws of nature or common sense may tell us that there is just no resolution for the problem we face. That is often where we throw in the towel and succumb to discouragement. There is one verse to cling to when you find yourself in the realm of the impossible. "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27.  Don't underestimate the power of the God who loves you. What you are facing may seem impossible, but with God all things are possible!

Look back at our definition of discouragement: "the act of making something less likely to happen". What are you hoping to see happen in your life right now? Healing? Restoration of relationships? New opportunities? Joy? Getting out of debt? Losing weight? Quitting a habit? DISCOURAGEMENT IS MAKING THAT LESS LIKELY TO HAPPEN! If discouragement can make it less likely to happen, encouragement can have the opposite effect. So be encouraged. Everyone gets tired, but God can renew your strength. Tell God what you need and thank him for providing for you. He will give you peace that will blow your mind. Don't be afraid! He will give you strength and hold you up! Never underestimate the power of God. What you're facing may seem impossible, but with God all things are possible! 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Anna,
    I plugged in this morning to check on you and I am re-reading this post, by God's design. I pray that you are well!! We are all expecting to hear some good news again soon! :)

    Your entry blessed me when I read it the first time and encouraged me again this morning.
    Over the last two weeks, I have taken some days "off" of my job in an effort to wrap up my dissertation. Three of the ten days, I ended up not taking time off at all but working about 12 hours each! No dissertation for those first three days.... Today is the last of the seven days that I actually had to really focus on school. God has blessed me with incredible progress but the goal that I set for myself wasn't realized within the timeframe that I had expected. While it has been really exciting and fun at times, I can't tell you how quickly and easily it is to slip into discouragement. I have never been one to worry. My mom always did enough of that for both of us! :) But, I am prone to intense moments of discouragement, especially when I am worn out and facing what seems to be an impossible challenge. Thank you for reminding me of the verse that I love and have lived by over these last 12 years of doctoral work - "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27.

    I am tired but rest is coming soon. He makes this dream possible for me!

    The entire purpose of this terminal degree was never about a credential but about surrender -- yielding to and watching God at work in me, around me and through me. I need that refreshing truth today as I press on.... This is my last "day off" and I am trusting in God's provision for this dissertation. Christ loves me enough to sacrifice His very life for me! How dare I think that He can't do this one tiny thing!

    I CHOOSE "good cheer" instead of discouragement today! (John 16: 33 - NKJV)

    Much love,