Last week, my blog post had a guest author, Regina. She shared some of her testimony in the hopes that it would inspire readers as they walked their own road to emotional healing in Christ. When Regina initially shared with me, what came to mind was overcoming discouragement. So, as a follow up to Regina’s post, that’s what I’d like to talk about today: The 7 Essentials for Overcoming Discouragement.
First off, for the believer, DISCOURAGEMENT is anything that deprives us of courage, hope, or confidence in the Lord. Discouragement is dangerous! Allowing it to hang around in our lives is treacherous business because, before we know it, discouragement has led to hopelessness, depression, chronic fear and . . . problems, problems, problems. That’s why God admonishes us not to let discouragement get a hold of us, troubling our hearts and undermining our peace. For example, twice in John 14, Jesus encourages us by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”(v. 1, 27, NIV). And, in Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV), we are told, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
Imagine a life where you are victorious over discouragement. You can have that!
And here are the 7 essentials . . .
The first essential is understanding that discouragement does not mean that there is something wrong with you. It’s a part of life and is often the result of events and situations that are out of our control. We are all confronted with it sooner or later when facing disappointing or hurtful life events. Remember: failure is never final unless we quit trying. As we continue to try, failure really becomes no more than a setback — a possibility to learn from mistakes and to try again. It can be painful and embarrassing, but it can also be a great teacher. God’s definition of success does not preclude failure, but it includes a willingness to refuse to quit, to learn from one’s mistakes, and to try again. So, don’t take it personally, thinking that discouragement somehow means you’ve failed. All of us have faced discouragement, have even given into it at some point, but the question is: “What are you going to do about it today?”
First Peter 5:7 (NLT) says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” Casting our cares on God takes a great amount of trust and humility. We need to give Him all of our cares—not just the ones we think are big enough or important enough. God will even shoulder the cares that we have brought upon ourselves—we can give them all to Him. When we give our cares to Him, we can brush off our discouragement and get back to the kingdom business at hand. We are called to do much in Christ!
Stop allowing your mind to dwell on what might have been. This type of thinking is dangerous because it keeps us looking backward, closing us off to looking ahead or looking up. It also encourages us to rehash our failings and mistakes, keeping us discouraged. This is never productive. Remember: Romans 12:2 (NIV) admonishes us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Our minds are never renewed by dwelling on what-ifs. If we want to know and walk in God’s awesome will for our lives, we must let go of the what-ifs, forgiving ourselves, forgiving others. And we must develop the habit of always focusing our minds on Him, determined to always look up and look forward.
Along with ditching the what-ifs, we must also resist the temptation to use feelings to determine how to handle discouragement. Feelings can change drastically from situation to situation. If we use feelings to determine actions, we will be unsteady and unstable— not the staid and secure people He has called us to be. As I recently read in a Joyce Meyer devotional, we are to let emotions subside before we decide. And it’s true. It’s a necessary attitude to have and there’s no overcoming discouragement without it.
A lot of times we have difficulty overcoming discouragement because we are closed to the fresh direction, meaning that we only see our failings and losses, not the new direction God is trying to take us in. Remember the Lord declares in Jeremiah 29:11, He has plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. This means that God causes everything, even the disappoints of life, to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). So, we need to always be open and ready to receive whatever God may have in mind for us. Pray and ask Him for eyes to see the fresh direction. Then make plans for an optimistic future.
The Apostle Paul certainly understood challenges and discouragement. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-25 (NLT), he relates some of what he went through in his travels to share the gospel of Jesus Christ: “Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.” And the list goes on and on. And yet this same Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9 (NASB), “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It’s God’s heart for us to persevere through disappointments. Following God, having our steps ordered by Him, does not guarantee success in every endeavor. In fact, some lessons that God wants to teach can only come through failure. When God’s people fail, however, He does not allow them to be “utterly cast down” (Psalm 37:23-24, NKJV). Instead, He helps them back up so that they can learn what He wants to teach them and move on toward success. So, no matter what, never, never, never give up!
When was the last time you had a good laugh . . . a deep-down belly laugh? The saying, “Laughter is the best medicine” is not actually a bible quote, but the idea comes directly from Proverbs 17:22 (AMP), “A happy heart is good medicine, and a cheerful mind works healing . . .” Stop living with your head hung down, focusing on the negative. Such living “dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22b). Find those activities that make you laugh — genuinely and from deep down inside. Whether it’s a movie, spending time with an old friend, a funny story — find the things that make you laugh and do them often. Determine to let your thoughts and attitudes reflect the joy of the Lord — it’s your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). God is in control and His love is steadfast. A children’s song says, “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it” . . . So, laugh again, laugh often! It will go a long way to bringing back the joy. It’s ‘a medicine’ that will turn your life around.
Well All, that’s my list! That’s my 7 essentials for overcoming discouragement. So, if you’re discouraged? Down? Wondering if God is on your side in this? Well, He is! Even though you may not see or feel it at that moment, He is at work in your life. So, never give up. Keep moving forward. Do not lose heart and keep looking up. Remember, He actually does want you to overcome discouragement, so your miracle is inevitable.
In His Love,
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