Last week we looked at how encouragement builds a person up. Discouragement is the opposite of encouragement.
To be discouraged simply means ‘to be disconnected from courage.’
When we are discouraged we become blind: to who we are; to possibly. We are unable to see beyond ‘right now’. We become ensnared in our current circumstances and thinking.
If we don’t guard against discouragement and nip it in the bud quickly, it can be a killer of motivation, passion, strength, vision, and faith. Where faith is seeing with the heart that which cannot physically be perceived now, discouragement is the opposite. When we are discouraged, we can become spiritually blind to possibilities.
3 Ways to Guard Against Discouragement:
*Don’t Worry – Pray about everything
*Guard your heart – watch your thoughts
*Strengthen yourself (in the Lord)
1 Don’t Worry, Pray
“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.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Sounds simple, but the Bible is clear. When we cease worrying, and commit everything to God in prayer instead, believing and trusting Him, HE will guard our hearts with His peace.
2 Guard Your Heart – Watch your thoughts
From childhood my generation were taught a simple phrase to understand the law of gravity “What goes up, must come down.” Well similarly, there’s a spiritual ‘law’ that is just as elementary and important: “what goes in, must come out.”
Wise King Solomon told his son, “pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:20-23
If our thoughts and hearts are kept filled up with our Father’s Word, then in times of need, or crisis, this is what will spill out of us.
Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt12:34)
If you want to know what is in your heart, just listen to what escapes your mouth. Is it a stream of living water, or a stream of negativity, fear, and lack of faith?
A Word-of-God centred thought life will:
* Govern your speech (v. 24)
* Centre your vision (v. 25)
* Guide your steps (v. 27)
3 Strengthen Yourself in The Lord
We become discouraged for all sorts of reasons: we feel our future looks bleak, we feel that people, or the Lord, has been unfair to us, we feel we haven’t received what we deserve. Some struggle with chronic pain, or ongoing hard circumstances and all three of the above sentences might seem applicable.
The prophet Elijah once became so discouraged that he wanted to die; he actually begged God to kill him. His (negative) thoughts at that time governed:
* His speech
* His vision – or loss of it
* His steps – he ran in fear, into the desert!
“Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” 1 Kings 19:4
David, on the other hand, also faced some incredibly hard times, but he stood strong because he knew how to strengthen himself in the Lord. One such occasion is told in 1 Samuel 30
David and his army were away in battle, when the Amalakites came. They captured the wives and children of David and his men, and burned Ziklag to the ground.
The grief stricken men blamed David. They even planned to stone him to death. Of course David was distressed. (1 Samuel 30:6) I’m sure he felt afraid – who wouldn’t? But, I love these words at the end of verse 6….“David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
Notice that it says “the Lord his God”… David knew God. He had a personal, intimate relationship with God. The key is to not wait until you are waist high in one of life’s storms, but to ready your heart for any storm by developing these precious spiritual ‘disciplines’, or ‘building blocks’: personal relationship – intimacy with your Father; worship, prayer, and the Word of God.
I hope, if you are or have been discouraged, that these 3 ways to combat it have helped – even encouraged you, today.