Dealing with Discouragement
This will be a brief post this afternoon. The topic of dealing with discouragement has been sitting with me, namely because within the past week or so, I have encountered it in different situations and on different levels.
Honestly, I can't stand they way discouragement seeks to affect me. Now that God has given me healing in the area of anxiety (another story for another time), I can see discouragement more clearly and deal with it sooner. But, it doesn't mean it doesn't come knocking. The reality is, it's something both you and I will deal with from time to time, and if left unchecked, it can lead us south real quick. It manifests itself as a feeling (and I know you know how it feels), but it stems from our thought life. And when it springs up, we have two options--take it to God, or give into the temptation to agree with it.
This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9, NLT)
I don't necessarily believe it's wrong to be saddened or "bummed" out. They are human emotions. However, it's what we do with their onset that determines the outcome, and discouragement is not something we want to give into, as it can become a breeding ground for all sorts of unhealthy emotions and actions. The enemy wants us to be discouraged, because it debilitates us. Discouragement left unprocessed can lead to hopelessness, which can then lead to despair, despair being the very opposite of hope. And this is exactly where the enemy wants us, because Jesus is hope, and if he can keep us from seeing the light of Christ, he knows we will be rendered powerless. None of these mindsets are of the nature of God.
Thus, I find it extremely important to catch discouragement at it's onset. This is what I have found in my journey with Jesus: instead of agreeing with discouragement, at it's first appearance, take it to Him. Process your thoughts and feelings with Him. Ask Him for clarity. I find that allowing God to show me where discouragement is originating is a key to overcoming. It can stem from many places, but I find that for me, discouragement namely sources from unmet expectations that I have for circumstances or that I place upon myself. And sometimes, the circumstance is aiding to highlight a lie below the surface that I am believing about myself or God, which I must uncover, take ownership of, and repent.
I have been encouraged to not be ashamed of whatever comes up. We must get real with our feelings--it's the only way true healing can come. I find that it is essential for us to be honest with God about how we feel, and the sooner, the better. Honesty bring things into the light, and when things are brought into the light, healing can take place. Then, allow His voice, His thoughts, His Word to define the circumstance that is involved. Replace the discouraging thoughts and any lies with His truth. His words have the power to break darkness, fill us with hope, and rearrange us. Then choose. Choice is one of the most powerful gifts we've been given. Choose hope. Choose to believe God can and will, even when the enemy continues to knock on the door of your mind. This is what it means to take our thoughts captive. We must get familiar with the nature and character of God, and challenge any contradiction with His truth.
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. (Song of Songs 2:15, NIV)
God is the God of encouragement. Where as the enemy would desire to lead us into discouragement, God wants to empower us. Though discouragement often works to tempt us from seeking God, at His feet is where our true freedom lies. The truth is, the enemy doesn't want us to believe that God is all-powerful and that in Christ, we are empowered, victorious, powerful daughters and sons. God is our ever-present help in times of trouble and the renewer of our minds. So, the next time discouragement comes knocking, catch it and bring it to Him. Be reminded of who God is and what He has done. Let's not waste our headspace with thoughts and lies that are not our inheritance in Christ. Wow. Those sound like fighting words. And I guess they are. I just don't want to spend my life robbed of the security, joy, and victory that comes from a life with Jesus. Because I've been there. And it's destructive.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1, ESV)
God sees our lives. He knows all the pieces, and He is always leading us in triumph. We are enough because of Jesus. The things He has said will come to pass. He is actively working to restore, rebuild, and reconcile. Be blessed. You are victorious in Him because His victory is your victory. Be encouraged.