12 May, 2009


It amazes me how things run in cycles. In the last 36 hours I have spoken to several folks who have been feeling discouraged. Let me say first of all, we all have to deal with times of discouragement. Yes, all of us. At some time or another, discouragement comes crashing in on each one of us. Some it hits harder and even more frequently. But it is a fact that each of us does face times of discouragement. The trick is in how we deal with it and knowing that we must battle it, and how to battle it so that discouragement never gets the upper hand. There is a vast difference in having discouragement and discouragement having you. When you are discouraged you are still in control, but when discouragement has you, it is in control. We have to learn how to handle discouragement from a Biblical perspective.

First, we need to recognize what discouragement is. In the literal, it is to dis-courage, or to remove courage... or to lose heart. It is allowing something to cause us to lose the desire and motivation to continue doing something that brings purpose and satisfaction to our lives. When a Christian becomes discouraged, it means that they have lost the desire and motivation that they once had when they first came to Christ. There once was a time when they were excited, even thrilled about going to church... now they just don't have the desire or motivation to attend church anymore. Anything and everything gets in the way and they just can't seem to make it to church. In reality, they've lost heart, they are no longer encouraged... thus, they are discouraged. The challenge is to examine what has caused this discouragement and to confront it head on, before we totally succumb to it. Some of the factors that lead to discouragement are weariness and fatigue, a loss of purpose or vision, a loss of confidence in yourself or others, and a loss of security, or fear.
Any of these and all of these if allowed to build will suck the courage right out of any of us and we find ourselves discouraged. So, in battling discouragement, or in preventing it in the first place we must make sure we get the proper rest, both physically and spiritually. The best way I know to not lose vision is to stay connected to it. Start laying out of church and you can bank on the fact you will become discouraged. Start missing time on a project and you will lose heart. You've got to stay with it. Each of these builds upon the other. One key I have discovered is that when you stop listening to God, it means you are listening to others. Duh!? Keep in touch with God! Fear comes when we start listening to the wrong voice! Be careful who you are listening to. Not everyone who offers you advice has your best interest at heart. A sure-fire way to recognize that discouragement is trying to come upon you is that you start developing the urge to run. You feel like quitting church. You feel like quitting your job, or walking out on your marriage. Get the idea? Something has ripped off your courage. When you see it coming, it is time for rest. It is time for you to re-organize. Many times we are doing the right thing, but we are doing it the wrong way, so we need to stop, rest, reflect and re-organize. So many give up on their dream when all they needed to do was to re-organize a little. How many churches have messed up and sold out the dream or vision by pastors becoming discouraged and leaving when what they needed to do was back up, rest, re-organize and get alone with God until they were encouraged? One of the best things you can do when you are discouraged is to encourage yourself. How? One of the best ways is to remember all the things God has already brought you through. To remember His faithfulness and provision. Remind yourself that the Father loves you and He has good plans for your life, plans to prosper you and not to hurt you. Get into the Word. Review and rehearse the promises of God. They are your promises.

Much more to say, but this is becoming long. Let me just encourage someone right now by reminding you that our God is a good God and he loves you passionately. He wants you to be the head and not the tail... on top and not the bottom. He has good things in store for you! If you are discouraged today, the first step you need to take is toward God, not away!

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