The reality is that the valuable things in life, tangible or intangible, can require significant effort and persistence. In addition to that, we're human and learn from our mistakes (meaning that mistakes are part of life for everyone). And to make matters even more challenging, we have an enemy that seeks to steal, kill and destroy, especially anything that is a threat to his work. The result is that victory can be hard-earned.
Even then, sometimes hard-won victory can lead to discouragement. Read the story of David after he was anointed to be King. The revelation of his destiny was the beginning of quite a run of discouragement for him (see the book of I Samuel). Sometimes our victories make us a target for those around us. Not everyone is happy for us when we succeed.
Discouragement can stop us dead in our tracks.
Interestingly, God has much to say about discouragement in Scripture. In fact, Scripture is full of encouragement. And to cover both sides of it, we are told repeatedly to encourage one another, the clearest indicator that encouragement must be intentional and plentiful because it is desperately needed. Scripture clearly indicates that encouragement must be intentional and plentiful because it is desperately needed.
It may help to realize that discouragement is not uncommon to man. The enemy would have us think that we are alone in our exhaustion of hope, that those around us are succeeding without hindrance, that the doors are wide open for all but us. History tells us a different story. Look at the heroes of the Bible! The pattern is quite different; Joseph, Daniel and David all had to keep on going, despite profound opposition.
What do we do when the pillow is over our head from discouragement, and we are crying out to God because the enemy has opened his toolbox in our circumstances? What do we do when the enemy is whispering false tales to keep us from “wasting” more effort, accusing God of being insensitive to our plights, and then tells us lies of hopelessness and that perseverance will be wasted? There are several things that we must do to keep in the race.
2. Keep in Scripture. Open your Bible to books like the Psalms. Ask God for passages that will encourage and build you up. His word is alive and He will answer your prayer with words tailor-made for the moment. Read God’s many promises that relate to your situation. Write the verses down and decree them and take them out when you are beginning to lose heart.
3. Praise and worship God. He becomes bigger, and our roadblocks and mountains become smaller.
4. Spend time in His presence. James 4:8 encourages us to “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Try to find a time and place to be alone with God and rest in His presence.
5. Pray in the Spirit until you feel a shift in your spirit. Sometimes we are out of words to pray. The Holy Spirit will help you pray what you need to be praying to lift you up. He is the Great Encourager!
6. Cast your cares on Him. I Peter 5:7 says “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” There are times when we have not lost our resolve, but the cares of the world begin to drain us of our energy to keep going. We are too weighed down to move forward. “Cast” each burden to Him. Jesus will catch each one and remove the weight from your shoulders. He is not surprised that we have burdens (notice the plural?). He is ready and waiting.
7. Record your prophecies, dreams and words that God has given you and refer to them when the going gets tough. Go back through your recorded directives from God. You will be reminded that He has great things for you. This will renew your resolve to keep going.
8. Share your discouragement with a friend, if you are able. We need prayer and we sometimes need a fresh perspective. Fight the tendency that we have to isolate ourselves when we are most in need. That is another trick of the enemy and it is a lie that we can do it alone. We need one another. Don’t believe otherwise.
9. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and move forward. James 1:12 carries an amazing promise; “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” Refuse to let the enemy derail you in your life’s purposes with his most common strategy, discouragement. God has plans for good for you. Cooperate with Him and move forward to see the wonderful things that He has ahead.