At first it felt like the right thing to do, but as challenges start popping up left and right, you no longer feel so sure.
Maybe you thought you could “handle it”, but lately you’re feeling so defeated.
You’ve been disciplining yourself to give it to God and trust Him, but when you’re feeling discouraged, some days you find yourself still picking it up and doing things your way – only to realize that your way isn’t error proof.
I have often felt defeated and anxious when my back is against a wall that I can’t push. Before long, feelings of regret and doubt creep in for a gang fight. It’s in tough moments like these where my faith feels so tried. I am reminded that life isn’t always smooth, and I am forced to choose between obeying God’s will or doing things my way.
Usually, when I opt to do things my way, it’s because I feel internally out of control. I feel I have to protect myself or find a way to cope with the brunt of the discouragement. Other times I feel like it’s useless to try to do things right since the situation is already going south.
What I have seen, is that I am most inconsistent and near-sighted in these hard moments. It is tough to be logical or reasonable when you’re feeling discouraged. You become blinded by the reality of it all, and the circumstances can feel so permanent.
As humans, we are changeable.
This phenomenon is real even with physical pain.
The pain of a new wound hurts the most when the wound is fresh. Over time, however, the pain diminishes. The same is true when we are discouraged or feeling any type of emotional pain. The deepest sting is usually felt when the painful experience is new. However, over time (no matter how long), our feelings change – even if they don’t necessarily go away.
Feelings may not totally go away – and some days they may spike – but it doesn’t stay at the same intensity forever.Hannah Forbes-Smith
When I am feeling discouraged, the first thing I do is remind myself that I won’t feel this way forever. The best thing to do when you feel tempted to act during moments of discouragement, is to do nothing. Allow yourself time to be still and just feel. I frantically cried out to the Lord in a valley of discouragement because I didn’t want to respond my way and the following verse came to me:
So, rather than acting in the moment, I chose to be still.
It helped me to see that my emotions were leading and I needed to get them out of the driver’s seat fast.
Discouragement can quickly partner with anxiety, and together they can birth an overwhelming urge to act now. Do something to ease the discomfort. Together they can falsely convince you that there is no hope, and no time, so you’d better move now.
This leads to half-baked decision making, careless words, and even dangerous methods of self-soothing (addictions, saying and doing things you may later regret, etc.). Practice resisting the pressure to act quickly when you’re feeling discouraged. Resist the lie that you must act NOW in order to be okay. As a child I often heard the phrase, “Haste makes waste.”
Remind yourself that there is more going on in the situation than you may realize.
Could this rough patch be more than just a rough patch? Is there something that your attention should be drawn to – other than the obvious stress and discomfort of it all? Could God be using this obstacle for His glory? Or, to mature you? Or, to bring you into awareness of something?
It is important as you are still, to include these questions in your prayers. When discouragement surrounds you and begins to pull you in, asking God for His perspective on the situation can help you to discern other factors that may be at hand.
Remember – You desire His perspective. Not yours.
Sometimes our biggest lessons are learned through the worst of times. We are humbled through discouragement and may even become more aware of our need to trust and depend on God. Other times, the Holy Spirit is at work in a bigger way that we cannot see.
I think of Paul in this instance. He was able to stand before great Kings to bring the gospel, and he profoundly authored much of the New Testament. The precursor to him being positioned in the midst of Dignitaries was him being imprisoned! That’s right. He was brought before Kings to be judged, and there was his opportunity to minister. And as far as the writing of part of the New Testament, yep, he did some of that while imprisoned and even exiled from society.
At one point in my life, I fell into a vicious trap of self-pity. Discouragement would bring me into the boxing ring and have its way with me.
I saw only the dark clouds. I questioned, complained, wept, and grumbled. I cried many rivers and wished that things didn’t have to be the way they were. I was filled with regret, depression, and hopelessness. I believed the enemy’s lies that trying or giving any sort of effort was useless because nothing would change. At its very worst, this brought me to the doors of suicidal ideations and I struggled with even seeing the value of being alive several times.
My Sister, this is the Enemy’s portion; Death. Whether physical, spiritual, emotional, or mental. You however, are no longer under his penalty. As a Believer, your portion is FAITH.
Say that aloud now: “Faith is my portion!”
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith, it is impossible for the Believer to survive. Faith is the substance of things hoped for – even when the evidence isn’t seen (Hebrews 11:1). I read this verse in a few different translations, and some expressed “faith” using these words:
Faith is assurance of the things we hope for. Faith is confidence in the things we hope for. Faith is certainty in the things we hope for – even though the evidence isn’t seen.
The only One who is mighty and powerful enough to see and hold the end of the age in His hand is the Living God (Yahweh). He knows how this circumstance will unfold for you. He only asks that you have FAITH in Him – even though you can’t see. Without this faith, it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
In closing, here is my challenge to you when you’re feeling discouraged…
Will you dare to trust God, again? Even for the next minute or hour?
Can you resolve being still in this present difficulty, shifting your eyes from the crash and onto the cross?
As you fix your eyes on Jesus in obedient stillness – right now in this moment – commit to meditating on the scriptures in this post and say to yourself:
“Lord, I have assurance in YOU.”
Lord, I have confidence in YOU.”
Lord, I have certainty in YOU.”
May His abiding peace be with you when you’re feeling discouraged