Facing Discouragement? We Need Protection in God's Encouragement
Discouragement is one of the enemy’s most effective tools against the people of God. How many small group leaders begin with great dreams of seeing spiritual growth in their group members only to become discouraged and quit? How many pastors assume leadership in a new church only to run afoul of a power structure, become discouraged, and lose heart?
How many men and women enter the world of business with big goals and high expectations but end up experiencing discouragement? How many people enter marriage in love with one another and soon become discouraged with each other and marriage itself?
Let God Encourage You
Writers in the Psalms knew discouragement well. They also knew God was faithful to provide encouragement. Consider Psalm 42:1-2, 6 as it says, “As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.” Have you ever been that hungry for God while feeling detached from Him? You are in good company! Chase after God when you face discouragement.
God Gives You Hope
But the psalmist didn’t stop there. He expressed great hope in God’s encouragement. “The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night–a prayer to the God of my life” (Psalm 42:8). Then he asks and answers his own questions: “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5).1, 2
Philip Nation writes, “We can learn to be thankful even for the difficulties of life because even those difficulties remind us of God’s presence.”3 Even the best known of Psalms, the 23rd, reminds us of God’s presence in the valley of the shadow of death.
Ways God Encourages Us
Encouragement from God can come in many forms. Sometimes it is a timely verse of Scripture during our quiet time. Sometimes it is the overwhelming sense of His presence while we are in prayer. At other times it is a word from a friend spoken at the right time. At yet other times it is a refreshing spirit of worship. God is not bound in His ability to encourage us, nor stingy in His willingness to do so.
When Discouragement Overwhelmed Me
There have been several times when discouragement has overwhelmed me. I could account several times through the years when I believed with a deep conviction that God wanted us to do something in our church. Yet, it did not happen. Discouragement overwhelmed me.
There have been times when laypeople or various members of our staff team have left our fellowship. It has been especially discouraging when it was not done in the highest manner biblically and spiritually. In some of those moments, discouragement overwhelmed me.
There have also been moments when I thought God was going to do something with me. Yet, it was not His plan. Discouragement overwhelmed me. These have been the moments I have rebounded from the quickest because I have a consuming theological belief in the sovereignty of God for my life.
God is Always Faithful, Abounding in Grace
Through each of these personal moments of discouragement, God has always been faithful to me. He has lifted up my life with an encouragement and confidence in Him that far surpasses any level of encouragement.
I leave you with this confidence today because of God’s faithfulness and grace in my life:
“Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.”4
1– All scripture, Holman Christian Standard Version.
2– “Depressed” in this context refers to discouragement, not deep or clinical depression. Clinical depression has roots not yet fully known. I believe God can work through the medical community in cases like these.
3– Bible Studies for Life, Storm Shelter, Philip Nation
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