Dealing with discouragement
When we go through tough times, we can end up feeling discouraged. We may feel like giving up because the situation is too overwhelming or seems never-ending. Instead, we need to try and view our discouragement as an opportunity for growth. But how do we do that? Firstly, we need to admit how we feel. That doesn’t mean we have to sit around in self-pity or negativity; it means trusting God enough to acknowledge how we really feel. Pretending things are fine when they’re not, doesn’t help us in the long run. It’s not unusual to feel this way, so we shouldn’t feel ashamed. Throughout the Bible, we see people struggle with the same feelings. The psalmist asked God to help him cope with despondency (have a read of Psalm 42 and 43). And at one point Paul was under so much pressure he ‘despaired of life itself’ (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV). Secondly, we need to identify the source. Discouragement often comes after a setback or disappointment. Did something we set our hearts on fall apart? Did somebody let us down? Thirdly, it’s a good idea to talk about it to someone we trust. That may be someone in our family, our church, or a counsellor. Solomon said, ‘The more wise counsel…the better your chances’ (Proverbs 11:14 MSG). Sometimes we can find it hard to open up to others, because we worry about what they’ll think of us. But talking to the right people can help us feel less alone. Finally, we need to put our hope in God. David said, ‘Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.’ When our hope is in God, He replaces discouragement with confidence so that what we’re going through can help us to grow spiritually.
If you’re feeling discouraged, ask yourself which of the four steps in the reading you’re at. Ask God to help you move to the next step and show you how He’s growing you through the experience.