As a freelance writer, I get numerous rejections from editors who are not interested in the articles I’ve written for their publication. There are times when I become very discouraged and wonder, “What’s going on? Why aren’t my articles getting accepted? I don’t understand, God!”
Can you relate to my discouragement? Maybe yours is the result of something even more painful: infertility, joblessness, singleness, a prolonged illness, financial difficulties. Maybe you too wonder:
“What’s going on? Why can’t I ________ (fill in the blank)? I don’t understand, God!”
You Are Not Alone
First of all, I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. Discouragement is a natural part of being human. We can see moments of discouragement all throughout the Bible:
Rachel: Jacob’s beloved wife could not conceive a child, which in ancient times was as good as a death sentence for a woman. Rachel’s discouragement at being barren led her to bitterly cry out to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” (Genesis 30:1).
King David: At one point, David’s men were so angry that their wives and children had been taken captive that they wanted to stone David. As a result, David became “greatly distressed” (1 Samuel 30:6).
Job: No man ever experienced such cataclysmic loss as Job. In one days’ time, he lost all ten of his children, 11,000 animals,
Discouragement comes in various forms—in response to something we hoped for, in response to our own or someone else’s failure, in response to life’s trials. While discouragement is not necessarily a sin, it can tempt us to blame God or distance ourselves from him. Here are three things you might be tempted to do when you feel discouraged:
You Might Be Tempted To…
1.) …Think Fulfilment of Your Desire will be Enough
Our hearts are
For you, it might be: If I could just find a husband/have a baby/get well, etc. I’d be satisfied. It would be enough.
And, yet, when (and if) that longing is ever satisfied, we find, sadly, that another “hole” appears—another longing fills it quickly—and dissatisfaction (and discouragement) consume us once again.
2.) …Doubt God’s Promises
We are short-sighted people, unfortunately, focusing on what is happening currently in our lives (or what is not happening, as the case may be). When we don’t see our longings or desires (or even our prayers) being fulfilled immediately, we tend to doubt God and the promises he gives us in the Bible. We doubt his goodness toward us, his love for us.
You may be tempted to think (as I have been at times) that God’s promises are empty promises, at least when it comes to your particular situation.
3.) …Doubt God’s Plan
Sometimes it’s easier to see God’s plan for other people. At least it is for me. When it comes to my own life, I’m sometimes tempted to think that God has forgotten about me and that other peoples’ lives are more important than mine.
This is a very myopic view and could not be further from the truth.
When I feel discouraged, the best thing I can do is to seek God, who is the “God of all comfort” (1 Corinthians 1:3). I have learned that there are three things that I (and you) can do to feel more encouraged, even in the midst of discouragement.
1. ) …Know that God is Enough
God alone satisfies our deepest desires. We must know and believe that he is enough. If we pin all our hopes and desires on the thing or person we long for, we will become discouraged—what we think will make us happy and fulfilled—especially when it is delayed or even denied (as in a biological child or a spouse).
God is greater and more fulfilling than either people, possessions or passions, dear ones.
2.) …Trust God’s Promises for Our Own Lives
“Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
God’s promises are sure and true. He longs to comfort and encourage his children. As he encouraged Israel, so he encourages us with his word.
Deuteronomy 31:6 promises that God never abandons us, that he walks with us during our times of discouragement. He also extends comfort and mercy to us when we come to the throne of grace in our times of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
3.) …Trust God’s Will for Our Own Lives
God is sovereign. I need to keep in mind that he is the one who is in control and not me—even of my articles. They will get published if—and only if—they bring him glory, build up the body of Christ, and provide a greater good for his children.
Therefore, my prayer must become that of Jesus’s prayer when he was in Gethsemane, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). If I keep God’s will in mind, then I am less apt to become discouraged.
Our Discouragement has a Greater Purpose
It may seem strange, but even in our discouragement, we share in Christ’s suffering, since he himself was discouraged. In all things that we suffer—whatever they may be—we become partakers in what Christ experienced. In this, we come to understand and appreciate him as our great high priest, the one who is able to sympathize with us, even in our moments of discouragement (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Won’t you do that today take your discouragement to the Lord?
Whatever it is you’re feeling discouraged about, surrender it to your loving Father. He loves you so much, and he knows what’s best for you. Be encouraged by that, dear one. Be encouraged.