Discouragement. It’s what Moses struggled with in Numbers 11 as he was caring for a grumbling and complaining people in the wilderness. It is what Jonah battled with as he faced tough physical conditions. In Psalm 7:1-2, Asaph is discouraged when he sees the prosperity and success of others. And many people are combating discouragement in their own hearts today as social distancing continues. It is a dangerous thing if we don’t deal with it, because it will suck all the wind out of our sails and lead to despair. So how do we fight against it?
In order to battle against discouragement, we must first know what it is we’re fighting against. Discouragement is the opposite of courage. It is one who has lost the courage to press on and move forward. A person who is discouraged might feel disheartened and weary, like they’ve been emptied of all strength and vitality. This might come across in words like: “I am just too weak, I can’t continue on like this.” “I am all alone. Everyone has left me. No one cares about me.” “What good can possibly come out of this mess?”
At the heart of discouragement is a lack of faith. When God selected Joshua to replace Moses as the one to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, He tells them to be “strong and courageous” in Joshua 1:6. Again in verse seven He says to be “strong and very courageous.” He then says in verse nine, “have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged.” Why is Joshua to be courageous and not terrified or discouraged? The verse goes on to answer this question: “for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” The commandment to be courageous and not discouraged was based upon God’s promises: That He will give him every place that he sets his foot (v.3), and that He will never leave Him nor forsake Him (v.5). Would Joshua and the Israelites believe the promises of God and move forward with courage into the Promised Land, or would they not believe His promises and shrink back with terror and discouragement? This is an appropriate question for each one of us to ask ourselves during this time: am I going to fix my eyes on my current circumstances, or am I going to trust in the promises of God?
But what if you’ve been caught in what seems to be a never ending cycle of discouragement, with your eyes fixed on your circumstances rather than on the promises of God? What are some practical steps that you can take to conquer discouragement and live by faith?
Randy Patten gives eight helpful and practical strategies for conquering discouragement.
- Start by acknowledging and repenting of living a circumstance dominated and self-pitying life. (1 John 1:9)
- Ask yourself why you are downcast, and press for an answer. (Ps.42:5)
- Renew your efforts to live a God focused life, rather than a self or circumstance focused life. (2 Corinthians 5:9; Gal. 1:10)
- Take up the shield of faith by verbally reading or quoting Scripture in response to Satan’s lies.
Find appropriate passages of Scripture that deal with the lie that is leading you towards discouragement. (See Heb. 12:6-10; 13:5; Rom. 8:28-29; 2 Cor. 12:7-10)
- Encourage your heart in the Lord by meditating on appropriate Scriptures that counsel you to “hope in God.” (Ps. 42:5)
- Humble yourselves and tell your authorities, family, and friends that you are discouraged so that they can pray for you. (Hebrews 10:22-25)
- Think about eternity by looking at the end of the runway.
Look at the end of life to help deal with the difficult circumstances that are in front of us now.
- Serve others in spiritually meaningful ways. (Luke 9:23-24)
If you are battling discouragement, I would encourage you to listen Randy Patten’s study, “Helping the Discouraged and Discontent.” Click on the link below.