“How can we be discouraged when we live with the hope of eternal life? How can discouragement grip us when we have such a gracious God to give us comfort?” The answer is that we forget about God’s power, His presence and the eternal hope that we have in Jesus Christ.
Discouragement has taken hold more than once. I have lost my job in three corporate bankruptcies and one layoff. Each time I have lost a job, I managed to survive just fine, but my last job loss experience was pretty unnerving. It took me five months to find another. As time wore on, my doubt and discouragement grew.
When I got divorced, I was so ashamed of my failure as a husband, I became a failure in every aspect of my life. I wasn’t any good to anyone, including myself. I resigned from my dream job, withdrew from a beautiful family, lost everything and had to move back in with my mother. One moment I had everything I ever wanted. The next, I was living with my parents and working at a job that I didn’t like. Failure is fed by discouragement. In my own eyes, I excelled at failing. I was extremely discouraged and saw no light at the end of the tunnel.
In Numbers 13, the Hebrews were discouraged by the bad report of two men who only saw the giants in the land and not the beauty, nor the bounty. In Numbers 21, they saw a desert with no water and no food. They forgot about God’s miraculous provision of manna. They also forgot how God had led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea.
Discouragement can come from the most unexpected sources. It most often comes from our own sins because of the consequences we have to face.
Galatians 6:7-8 warns us:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
Discouragement overcomes us when we let the desires of the flesh take over. Left unchecked, desires lead us to ruin. Sowing good seed into our lives will build us up; while sowing destruction will break us down.
What happens once our kingdoms have fallen? What do we do once the seeds of destruction have reaped their harvest? Do we run and hide? Do we give up and stop trying to build? We must run to the King of Kings, who sent His son to die for our sins. It is because of the redemptive power of Jesus’ blood that we can build, create, work and produce. We have to try again when we fail. Jesus’ death was followed by resurrection. The fields of our broken lives can be plowed and reseeded with good things.
What discourages you? Has your life spun so far out of control that you don’t see a way out? Proverbs 13:12 puts it simply, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Here are a few things you can do to help pull you from discouragement to hope.
- Identify what discourages you (make a list if it’s more than one thing)
- Talk to God about what discourages you
- Make a list of possible action items to change the situation(s)
- Seek God’s forgiveness for your sins.
- Seek God’s power to overcome your past.
- Receive God’s forgiveness and power to move on to victory.
Why are you discouraged? Are you taking steps to change the things you have the power to change? Are you determined to deny discouragement the power to overwhelm you? Are you determined to live in God’s peace?
*This is day 3 of a 14-day devotional I plan to publish soon.