No matter where you go or what you do, discouragement seems to be at every turn. If we aren’t careful, it can choke the dreams and visions right out of us. Any aspirations that we may have had are slowly suffocated in a sea of defeat. We can’t let discouragement be the end of the journey.
Discouragement is hard to combat, but no matter who you are and what you do, you have to be able to fight it. I hope to share with you what I remind myself of when discouragement comes my way.
Don’t forget the vision
If we weren’t striving for anything, there’d be nothing to be discouraged from.
What is it that God has called you to? We get discouraged when we have a goal and we feel like we can’t reach it. If we weren’t striving for anything, there’d be nothing to be discouraged from. What vision or dream has God placed in your heart? Remind yourself of it and hold on to it.
Take time to refresh
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:2
When I feel discouraged, I have to remind myself to take some time to refresh. For me, discouragement often comes during times of stress. Let me relay one of the best pieces of advice I have received: take the time to rest. Now, that seems counterintuitive. How can we possibly rest when we have so many things we need to accomplish?
The answer lies in the proper use of your time. I’ll use my laptop as an example here. It’s seven years old, and waiting for it to turn on feels like an eternity. Couldn’t I just leave it on? That way, it’s on when I need it, and I can go straight to work right away. However, when I leave it on for days without turning it off, it becomes sluggish. Tasks that should take mere seconds take long minutes. Restarting it and giving it some downtime fixes these issues.
We can’t be running all the time. The more we try to stretch ourselves, the less we will accomplish. Like my laptop, we need some downtime to be able to work at full efficiency. When you’re feeling discouraged and stressed, take some time for yourself. Go for a walk. Brew yourself a cup of tea. Get away with God. You need to refresh and recharge. Psalm 127:2 reminds us of this truth: “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Just as God rested on the seventh day, so must we take the time to rest.
Reevaluate the vision
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” – Thomas Edison
During these times of refreshing, take some time to reevaluate the vision you’ve been given. I don’t mean throw it out because you’re frustrated. Rather, once you’re refreshed, you’ll be able to look at it in a new way. Is there another way to accomplish your vision? Can you bring alongside someone to help you? Is there a piece of the puzzle you missed? I had mentioned in a previous post Thomas Edison’s “failed” attempts at inventing the light bulb. He is often quoted as saying: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” Take this time to reevaluate, and get ready to try again. Failure is an opportunity.
Don’t be afraid of opposition
When you face opposition, you may be heading in the right direction.
I’ve been recently rereading through the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. Every time I read them, I continue to be amazed at how David reacts to the opposition from Saul. Remember that God had rejected Saul as king (1 Sam. 15:26). Samuel had anointed David as king (1 Sam. 16), but Saul was still reigning over Israel.
David accomplished great things for Israel while Saul was king. He killed Goliath (1 Sam. 17) and defeated Israel’s enemies. While he had never done any wrong to Saul, Saul still hated him. David was on the run from Saul for years, yet he still refused to harm Saul.
Opposition doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. It was Saul’s jealousy of David that caused him to hunt after him for so long. David had the calling from God to be the next king of Israel, and Saul had been rejected.
Like David, when you face opposition, you may be heading in the right direction. Don’t give up.
Let God handle it
“He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24
When I’m feeling discouraged, one particular Bible verse always comes flooding back to me. Towards the end of his letter in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, Paul teaches the believers at Thessalonica what they should do while they wait for the return of the Lord. These include, among others, “rejoice always” (vs. 16), “pray without ceasing” (vs. 17), “hold fast to what is good” (vs. 21), and “abstain from every form of evil” (vs. 22).
This seems like no simple task. How could one possibly accomplish all these things until the Lord returns? How many of us have fully abstained from evil? However, the Thessalonians were not without help. Paul reminded them that “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). God always keeps His promises, and He will help us endure to the end.
In 1 Corinthians 1:21-22, Paul writes, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” God doesn’t leave believers alone to preserve ourselves to the end. He has given us His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of life forever with Him.
God hasn’t left you alone. If there is a vision that God has shown you, let Him handle it. You are not going to make it happen. In your own strength, you accomplish nothing. If He has promised you that vision, always remember that He is faithful. It is He who will accomplish it through you.
You are more than what you do
Are you trying to accomplish your goal so you can be someone? Or are you doing it because you are someone?
This is the most important truth to remember: You are more than what you do. Why are you trying to accomplish that vision or goal? Are you doing it to be someone? Or are you doing it because you are someone? Don’t forget that you are first and foremost a child of God, created to be in fellowship with Him. Are you finding your worth in Christ, or are you finding it in what you do? Don’t continue to pursue that vision until you’ve answered that question. If you’re finding your worth in what you do, you will always end up discouraged because you’ll never feel like you are enough. Beloved, you were already enough 2,000 years ago when Christ died for you.
Discouragement will always come. Hang in there, know who you are in Christ, and never give up.