As we grow spiritually, God sometimes allows harder situations and longer waits in order stretch us and build our faith. We don’t always see it that way, however. Condemnation, doubt and discouragement hover around us, and we sometimes believe the lies that we’ve messed up and missed our chance, that we aren’t good enough, and sometimes even question if God is faithful. Don’t bury your head and give up! Instead, fight! Wield the weapons that God has placed in our armory. Victory will come. Here are some ways to defeat doubt and even the deepest discouragement.
1. REFUSE to grumble, gripe, complain or criticize. When we start speaking negativity and hopelessness, we are basically agreeing with the enemy. We are saying that God hasn’t come through. We are testifying that God isn’t faithful, loving, kind or concerned as our Father. Discouragement can be contagious, just as encouragement can be. When we grumble, we can bring other people down with us.
INSTEAD, use your words to proclaim His love and faithfulness. Praise Him and tell Him you trust Him. Ask Him for patience and the ability to persevere. Tell Him that you know that what He has will be worth the wait. Proclaim His goodness to others. They will see your trust and faithfulness and will be encouraged to persevere, themselves.
2. REFUSE to isolate yourself. Sometimes your situation may require the prayers of other people. Other times you will be surprised by the testimonies of other people and how God worked miracles in their lives, in situations similar to your own struggles. In addition, when we are vulnerable and share our struggles with other people, they can help spot lies that you are believing and shore you up with truth.
INSTEAD, trust someone. Ask for prayer. You may only need to share that you’re deeply discouraged. Take initiative and tell a friend that you’d like to go our to coffee and tea, that you need to get out and think about something else. A change of scenery can keep us from falling into a rut where we get stuck in a pattern of thinking bad thoughts and believing lies. It’s also beneficial to worship corporately, where the combined praise of many people ushers in God’s healing and uplifting presence. It also gives you an atmosphere where you can be nudged into a heart change when praising Him alone has been difficult.
Even if bad things appear on the path, the destination, when reached, is always, always God’s best for you.
“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
INSTEAD, declare God’s promises. To claim something is to “to demand or request for something considered one's due.” When we know something about God because Scripture says it, there is power in proclaiming it. There is faith behind those spoken words that can move mountains. In Matthew 21:21, Jesus says,
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.”
You don’t know what God is doing behind the scenes
To compare is to invite dissatisfaction, ingratitude, jealousy and discontent into our hearts. It also invites in condemnation because we may incorrectly blame ourselves for the very things that God is allowing into our lives to sanctify and strengthen us.
Instead, rejoice with those who are in a season of blessing. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” All of us have good and bad in our lives. When we put our own disappointments aside to rejoice with another person, we are demonstrating that we trust that God loves us all. How wonderful it is to rejoice when life can be so hard and there are always people hurting. It's easier to rejoice with others when we trust that God will do good in our lives, too.
All of those quotes on making things happen ourselves are helpful, but we have to remember that we want things to happen in His timing, not ours.
Instead, listen to the Holy Spirit. Then follow through on what He is saying. This can be hard because all of the well-intentioned loved ones in our lives don’t always hear simultaneously what we hear from the Holy Spirit. Their advice can often be to do this differently, or more of that, or less of the very thing that God wants us to do. Be confident that you can hear God. Yes, we sometimes hear wrong, but we also need to be able to see when we are being tossed to and fro and need to be able to be silent to hear God’s voice more clearly. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).
God knows that the enemy seeks to disarm, disable and defeat us through deep discouragement. This is why He tells us in I Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” When we need encouragement we should not feel that we are weak or unspiritual. It’s part of our lives as Christians, and God’s provision for each of us is partly that we take responsibility for one another by encouraging one another.
You will get through this season, and will have so much more to give because you will have compassion on others who are discouraged. You will experience victory and will have a testimony in which you can give God the glory. Then you can look around when you are feeling victorious and strong and seek others to encourage! God's faithfulness always plays out!!!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
–2 Corinthians 1:3-4