Dealing with discouragement

Psalms 39:7 NLT

When we go through tough times, we can end up feeling discouraged. We may feel like giving up because the situation is too overwhelming or seems never-ending. Instead, we need to try and view our discouragement as an opportunity for growth. But how do we do that? Firstly, we need to admit how we feel. That doesn’t mean we have to sit around in self-pity or negativity; it means trusting God enough to acknowledge how we really feel. Pretending things are fine when they’re not, doesn’t help us in the long run. It’s not unusual to feel this way, so we shouldn’t feel ashamed. Throughout the Bible, we see people struggle with the same feelings. The psalmist asked God to help him cope with despondency (have a read of Psalm 42 and 43). And at one point Paul was under so much pressure he ‘despaired of life itself’ (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV). Secondly, we need to identify the source. Discouragement often comes after a setback or disappointment. Did something we set our hearts on fall apart? Did somebody let us down? Thirdly, it’s a good idea to talk about it to someone we trust. That may be someone in our family, our church, or a counsellor. Solomon said, ‘The more wise counsel…the better your chances’ (Proverbs 11:14 MSG). Sometimes we can find it hard to open up to others, because we worry about what they’ll think of us. But talking to the right people can help us feel less alone. Finally, we need to put our hope in God. David said, ‘Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.’ When our hope is in God, He replaces discouragement with confidence so that what we’re going through can help us to grow spiritually.

Exo 16-18; Luke 12:35-48; Ps 66:13-20; Prov 6:23-25

Getting through your “nighttime experiences”

Psalm 30:5 NKJV

God is with us during our “nighttime experiences.” Think about it; you’ve been knocked down, but by God’s grace you’ve gotten back up. No matter how dark the night, you’ve lived to see the morning. Times change and relationships change, but God is always the same. He’s the one who brought you through every difficulty in the past, and He promises to be with you every day of the future. Note the words “joy comes.” That means you will rise again and rejoice again. Your drive to survive comes from a well that’s already within you, and the Lord is the One who fills that well. Let it flow! You don’t have to make it flow, just let it flow. Sixteenth-century English clergyman and historian Dr. Thomas Fuller said, “If it were not for hope, the heart would break.” No matter what you’re going through right now, don’t give up until you see the morning. It’s at the end of every dark night and every broken promise – and it always comes. After every setback, betrayal, and denial – morning will surely break. Let nothing keep you from believing that! God will dry your tears and you’ll awake with a new song. One of the greatest promises in Scripture is this: “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion…therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him” (Lamentations 3:22-25). Yesterday ended last night. It’s a new day, so make up your mind to enjoy it!

Soul food: Gen 42-43; Luke 10:25-37; Ps 33:1-12; Prov 5:7-14

Morning is coming

Psalm 30:5 NIV

When we’re struggling, nights can feel like the hardest times. We can end up lying awake for hours in the dark, thinking about our problems, imagining the worst, and wondering how we’ll face the day that’s coming. But God’s with us during all our ‘night-time experiences’. It might be a literal night that we’re struggling to get through, or it might be a season of our life that feels like a never-ending, difficult night. But even on the darkest and hardest of nights, the morning will come. We might have been knocked down, but by God’s grace we can get back up. Times change and relationships change, but God’s always the same. He’s the one who brought us through every difficulty in the past, and He promises to be with us every day of the future. The Bible says: ‘Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.’ When we’re going through a tough time, we need to remember that we’ll rise again, and we’ll rejoice again. No matter what we’re going through right now, let’s not give up. We need to keep our hope that we will see the morning. It’s at the end of every dark night and every broken promise – and it always comes. After every setback, betrayal, and denial – the sun will rise again. God will dry our tears and we’ll wake up ready to sing a new song of praise to God. One of the greatest promises in the Bible is this: ‘Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him’ (Lamentations 3:22-25 NIV). Today is a new day, so let’s enjoy it.

Exo 20:3; Acts 14:1-18; 1 Sam 5:1-5

Dream killers (5)

Hebrews 11:26 NIV

Moses discovered that when you’re not fulfilling your God-given dream, a king’s palace won’t make you happy. “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God…because he was looking ahead to his reward…he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (vv. 24-27 NIV). When God gives you a dream, you’ll be able to see things that are “invisible” to others. This brings us to the next dream killer: Lack of imagination. Humorist Robert Orben said, “Always remember that there are only two kinds of people in this world – the realists and the dreamers. The realists know where they’re going. The dreamers have already been there.” God gave you the gift of memory to replay the past, and the gift of imagination to pre-play the future. Moses “saw” the Promised Land long before he got there. It’s what sustained him through forty long years in the wilderness. God didn’t make a mistake when He gave you imagination. Because of it you can stand in the middle of your dream and envision it before it comes to pass, even when others doubt it. So if you’re a dreamer who has already been there in your imagination, trust God and put your dream to the test. If you come from a discouraging background, or don’t think of yourself as an especially imaginative person, don’t lose hope. You can still discover and develop a dream. God has put that ability within you!

Soul food: Isa 34-37; Luke 2:21-33; Ps 71:17-24; Prov 2:3-5

Share your story

Acts 16:14 NLT

Lydia wasn’t a preacher, she was a successful businesswoman who became a Christian from Paul’s ministry. As a result, her home probably became the first church building named in Scripture where believers met. The Bible says: ‘She and her household were baptised, and she asked us to be her guests…When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more’ (Acts 16:15;40 NLT). Lydia’s story shows us that we don’t have to be preachers to spread the good news about Jesus. We can share our faith, whatever our profession and however confident we feel about it. God says, ‘Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass’ (Isaiah 46:10 NLT). God already has a plan; what He’s looking for are workers willing to help fulfil it. And we can be one of those workers. Sometimes we worry that we don’t know enough theology, and that we won’t know the answers to people’s questions. But the thing is, God will give us the words to say when we ask Him for help. And often, our story has power. It’s our testimony of how God has made a difference in our lives that can really encourage someone else to give God their life, too. The Bible says: ‘But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). We should always be prepared to share our faith with others, whether we feel qualified or not.

Ecc 9-12; John 12:1-11; Ps 76; Prov 30:15-17