Discouragement seems to be rampant and in epidemic proportions in our current day and age. People are discouraged about failure of government, lapsing health, failed relationships, career hang ups, opportunities lost, and so much more.
Defined as a loss of confidence or hope, discouragement seems to have the power to literally paralyze the person going through it. One author describes discouragement as a loss of strength. This makes sense because when you have no hope, your vision is dimmed, and where there is no vision, effort and activity become pointless. Indeed your strength is gone.
Many of us have experienced this feeling of discouragement, and I believe this article will be of interest to you. We want to tackle how to handle disappointments and discouragements.
Recently I was with a friend, who told me of an encounter he had with an elderly friend who was chronically ill. When asked how she kept her spirits up, to my friends surprise remarked, “She made herself happy. If I don’t do it, who will”. How did she handle discouragement? She encouraged herself.
Encouraging oneself is not unique to this lady. We are told of a story in the Bible, where King David (prior to becoming king) was severely discouraged. David had just come from an expedition with his band of men. As they approached their town, they noticed smoke and smelt burning. To their great horror, a roving band of marauders had happened on their town, stolen their goods, kidnapped their families and disappeared. What were they to do?
1 Samuel 30 relays David’s discouragement. He wept from morning till evening. And then scripture says: “but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God”.
That’s right, David encouraged himself in the Lord. As much as we need to encourage one another, it’s important to be able to encourage oneself. In David’s situation he had lost the support of his men. They were even talking about killing him, as their leader, they felt he was responsible for their family. There was no one else but himself that could motivate him.
Do you encourage yourself often? How do you encourage yourself?
We learn from David that he encouraged himself by hearing from God. God’s word brings encouragement, when other voices seem overwhelming, we need to do what David did; seek to hear God’s voice.
God’s voice can be heard as we regularly read scripture. It’s amazing to me how often God has spoken to me about an area of discouragement simply as I read my scheduled Bible passage for the day. I wonder if I had skipped my reading that day, if I would have been so encouraged. Recently the same thing occurred, and in my heart I felt God challenging me to be faithful with my daily time with him, for the result is always encouragement.
Another way we can hear Gods word is through our own mouths. That is by rehearsing his promises amidst challenging situations. Maybe you are challenged financially or in a troubled relationship, and you are downcast. Then look up what God has said to you about these circumstances. It could be a favourite verse that you memorized years ago or a new one that you recently discovered. As you rehearse it by speaking, and as you think about it repeatedly, the words build up a resistance to the discouraging thoughts that have found a place in your mind. You may need to recall these verses multiple times a day, for an inordinate amount of time. Don’t quit. Keep doing it, until you see a change either your situation or your attitude.
So friend, “Be Encouraged”. God is with you, and as He speaks to you you will receive joy and strength to go the distance.
– Pastor Olu Jegede