by Bette Owens
Deuteronomy 1:21, “…as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”
Everyone gets discouraged. Some people show it more than others, but everyone has to deal with it. Even when you are busy serving God, hard times and discouraging times can come your way. Discouragement can come because of all kinds of reasons. It could be illness, a rebellious child, a personal attack on you or your family. It can be an attack on your church or pastor. It can be financial, it can even be harsh slander and untruths that we have no way of stopping. Sometimes a negative circumstance in life causes discouragement, and at other times we don’t even know the cause. I have found out that it is those people you least expect who will attack and hurt us the most. When discouragement comes our way, and it sometimes will, I have found a few do’s and don’ts that have helped me to get through it.
First, keep going forward! Don’t let the discouragement slow you down or stop you from continuing to serve God. You must continue to push when you don’t feel like it and move forward. In Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were in prison and facing a midnight in their lives, they could still pray and sing praises to the Lord. At the very least, even if circumstances leave us lying on our backs, we can still sing praises to God. Singing praises to God will help us get through the rough times. Many times God has been so good to me and has given me a hymn or chorus that I will sing or even hum, that has helped me in through those hard times. Praising God will lift our spirit. Psalm 40:3, “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in The Lord.”
Pray! Prayer is another thing that helps us through discouraging times. It is so easy to complain to others. Often we ignore the very One Who can give us the strength and help that we need. I remember a little chorus that went something like this, “When you have troubles and when you have cares, when you have burdens too heavy to bear, when you have troubles and doubts everywhere, have a little talk with the Lord.” When we are discouraged and have burdens that seem hard to bear, He is the One to Whom we need to go. As a Pastor’s wife and a mother, I have very few people I can vent to, but I take comfort from the fact that God is always there and He will listen. God will never turn me away or run and tell others when I cry to Him. He is such a good listener, and when I am done venting to Him, He helps me to press on and continue to serve Him. I have learned that if we properly handle discouragement and disappointment, it can strengthen us and make us stronger to serve Him. Romans 12:1, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”
Fight harder! We need to go against the natural tendency to slow down and fight harder. Sometimes getting busier when the hard times come will help strengthen us. It is during these times when we don’t feel like reading our Bibles that we need to fight even harder than ever to keep pressing on. 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
Do not get bitter! When we face discouragement because of an attack, it is very easy to become bitter. This is one area we need to really work on. Bitterness is a root that creeps in, and if not stopped, will destroy you from the inside. When opposition or discouragement comes to you, you need to make sure you keep your heart soft. As things heat up and the trials come, do you become hardened, bitter and have a broken spirit? In Hebrews 12:15 it says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Many people get bitter over the past, frustrated about the present and worried about the future. We ask why bad things happen, why me or why us? We need to realize that opposition happens to everyone. God is not picking on anyone, life brings problems and humans get discouraged. We have the tendency to believe we have it worse then everyone else. What makes us so special that we shouldn’t have to go through some opposition? We have our own little pity party and wonder, “Why me?” when things seem to end in failure. No matter how hard you try and nothing seems to go right, do not get bitter. In Psalm 51:17 it says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”We have to work hard so we don’t get a bitter spirit.
Never give up! We want victory and all the blessings God can give us without fighting the battle. Opposition will strengthen us, it makes us stronger if we don’t give up and allow God to work. We give up because we want life to go the way we think it should or because we don’t see immediate results. Ladies, we need to be careful that we are not looking through our human eyes, but our spiritual eyes. We need to lean on God and let Him work. Joshua 10:25, “And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.”
Don’t run away, stand! 1 Thessalonians 3:8, “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” When all else seems to fail, stand! This does not mean stand still and do nothing, but “stand fast in the Lord.” God always gives us the strength to get past the discouragement, we just need to stand in His ways. The longer you serve Him, the more you will realize that discouraging times can be times of strengthening. Do we like these times? No! Do we enjoy being attacked or discouraged? No! Don’t run from the very thing that can strengthen us to better serve Him. Every obstacle, hard time, attack, discouragement that comes our way is preparing us for the future. In 1 Peter 4:12-14 it says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”
Remember, we must keep going, fight for right and pray. Never let the root of bitterness even start to grow, don’t give up or run, but praise God and work harder. Stand for Him. Don’t ever forget, God is trying to strengthen us and make us stronger so we can better serve Him. 1 Timothy 6:11-12, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
Original article can be found at http://oldpathsjournal.com/2013/08/28/dos-and-donts-for-discouragement/