In this life, there are times when we feel discouraged. Some things disappoint us, and some things frustrate us. What do we do when we have these moments in life? What can we do when we notice others who are discouraged? It is my goal to help us overcome discouragement and to be encouraged in our walk with God. In this article, we will deal with some causes of discouragement, sources of encouragement, and how to find encouragement. Let us explore more on this matter.
Causes of Discouragement
What are some causes of discouragement? One cause of discouragement is the feeling of guilt. Sometimes we dwell on things in the past and it causes us to feel guilty. How do we overcome this? Well, we first must realize that Christ has set us free from sin. Notice what Paul wrote,
"But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit, leading to sanctification, and the end, eternal life" (Rom 6:22 LSB).
The freedom that Christ has given us is not what the world can offer. It is far better. We are no longer slaves of sin and we should not feel guilty of our past. We must press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:14). Second, we must be mindful of all the blessings that we have in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). We have the hope of eternal life. We have the family of God, which is the church. We have the seal of the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). There are so many blessings that we could not count them. Last of all, we must be mindful of the hope of eternal life. The Hebrews writer gives us what this should mean for us. Consider the following:
"In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and confirmed and one which enters within the veil," (Heb 6:17-19 LSB).
The hope of eternal life anchors the Christian and gives un an assurance that helps us overcome the feeling of guilt,
Another cause of discouragement is our weaknesses. Even the strongest of men may feel weak. I think of Paul's thorn in the flesh and what the Lord had said to him.
"Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2Co 12:7-9 LSB).
Paul asked the Lord to remove his thorn but the Lord said that His grace was sufficient. We need to be like Paul and continue to move forward in life. Even the Lord, in His humanity, was weak. Jesus said that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). If the Lord could have times where He felt weak, then so can we. Now we know that Christ was sinless and that sin was not His weakness. His weakness was one of His body and what He would suffer at the cross. Let us remind ourselves that we can overcome!
A third cause of discouragement is fear. "Fear paralyzes our energies and damps our zeal for service" (Webster, Notes on Daniel). This reminds me of lyrics to a song.
"Fear, he is a liar. He will take your breath; Stop you in your steps. Fear, he is a liar. He will rob your rest; Steal your happiness. Cast your fear in the fire. 'Cause fear, he is a liar" (Williams, "Fear is a Liar")
Fear will hinder us from doing our all for God. It prevents us from exerting our full energy to do what God has us to do. We are not given a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We do not need to be afraid of what others will say or think of us. What matters is what God thinks of us. If we walk in His light (1 John 1:7), then we should be fearless. Let us be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). Let us be proactive in our Christian walk.
Sources Of Encouragement
What are some sources where we can receive encouragement? One source is the Christian's confidence with His relationship to God (Webster, Notes on Daniel). This overcomes the feeling of guilt we mentioned earlier. Paul said to "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5). If we are "walking in the light as He Himself is in the light" (1 John 1:7), then we can be confident that we will end up with the eternal reward at the end of our journey. This relationship should be a close, intimate one. This includes obedience, and communication. We read God's Word which communicates His will for us. We meditate upon it and apply it to our lives. We also communicate our thoughts and needs in prayer (1 Thess. 5:17). It's not that God does not know our needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8), but that God wants us to communicate those needs to Him. It is an active relationship. We need to involve God in our lives.
Another source is the fact that God's love is personal (Galatians 2:20). His love is so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). When I dwell upon God's love I think of this passage:
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:7-10 LSB).
What an amazing thought to ponder! God's Love is so amazing. It cannot be fully described. It reminds me of the song, "The Love of God".
"Could we with ink the ocean fil And were the skies of parchment made Were every stalk on earth a quill And every man a scribe by trade To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry Nor could the scroll contain the whole Though stretched from sky to sky"
What a source to help us be encouraged! The love that God has for man causes me to be overwhelmed with joy in my heart. It is my prayer that this is the same for you.
A final source of encouragement is the family of God. There's nothing better than having a caring, loving family with the same goal. This goal is Heaven. Life is filled with so much difficulty and the wisdom of God is shown in the fact that the Church exists. We cannot overcome this life alone. He gave us a family. He gave us each other! We are to continually seek together (Colossians 3:1-5). We are to "bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2). We are walking while helping each other reach the Heavenly abode. Let us lean on one another. Let us pick up others when they are down. Let us be there for one another. We CAN NOT do it on our own (Jeremiah 10:23). With God's help and each other, we can make it across the finish line.
How To Find Encouragement
How can we find encouragement? What are some ways that will help us accomplish this? The first way that this can be accomplished is that we need to develop humility. As mentioned previously, we cannot overcome life alone. We cannot overcome by ourselves. We need to be willing to leave our pride at the door.
"Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you" (Jas 4:10 LSB).
Brother Webster wrote, "We can only be filled with God's strength when we are emptied of our self-confidence" (Webster, Notes on Daniel). The prideful one will never be filled with God's strength. We must be willing to humble ourselves.
The second way to find encouragement is to have an active prayer life (1 Thess. 5:17). James wrote,
"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith brings about perseverance. And let perseverance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, doubting nothing, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:2-8 LSB).
"You lust and do not have, so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:2-3 LSB).
We must communicate our needs to God. God is always inclining His ear to us. The Psalmist wrote,
"I love Yahweh, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, So I shall call upon Him in all my days" (Psalm 116:1-2 LSB).
When we ask, we must do so with right motives as James suggested earlier. We must have an active prayer life. Jesus had an active prayer life. Daniel had an active payer life. Paul had an active prayer life. There are many examples of people having active prayer lives in scripture. Why should we be any different? God will give us help (Hebrews 4:14-16).
A final way to find encouragement is to ask others for help. It has been mentioned before, but we cannot rely on ourselves. We must involve others in our lives. Has someone ever told you that it is not "manly" to ask for help? Or, has someone said that it is not proper to ask for help? This is an outright errouneous mindset. Even Jesus needed help. He asked three times for the cup to pass. We cannot let our pride prevent us from getting the help we need to continue to press on toward the goal (Php. 3:14). It is NOT a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, it should be done more often. Too many times we rely upon ourselves and not on each other. I believe we can do better in this aspect.
I hope that this article has helped you find ways to overcome encouragement or to be encouraged. If you are struggling with this, then I hope that you'd be willing to reach out and we will discuss it. God is Awesome and He is the source of our encouragement. As we go throughout our lives, let us press forward with confidence! Let us overcome discouragement by being encouraged together in Christ! It is my prayer that we will take advantage of the things avalible to help us be encouraged.