Overcoming Discouragement in Your Daily Life
By: Taylor Tomaselli
Just in case you didn’t get the memo:
Life is hard.
I know Christians aren’t supposed to say that…but it’s true.
I’m sorry if that statement doesn’t fit the mold of a “faith-filled” believer. Now, I guess I should back up and explain myself a little bit. I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I am a pessimist. No, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe we are meant to experience joy in our day to lives.
But at the end of day, we live in an imperfect world, filled with imperfect people…which means that our lives will never truly reach perfection. And yes…that means that at times you will experience discouragement.
Okay well, we did our best. *Sigh* So now what?
Should we just give up? Stop trying?
Should we stop believing in miracles? Or that better things are to come?
Should we just lie down and just accept that things will never really change?
I have asked myself these questions many times. And admittedly, sometimes it is tempting to do those very things. Even though I know better.
And on the surface, it should be a no-brainer, right?
Of course God does miracles! Of course there are better things to come! I believe we know this intuitively.
So why is it so hard to remember that when you are hurting?
As much as I’d like to say that my faith can’t be shaken, the truth is, sometimes I wonder where God is. Sometimes I wonder if I’m on some sort of ‘waiting list’. Like I applied to the University of Jesus and He decided I’m not his first pick. (Why was I such a bad kid in high school??). But hey! Maybe if I’m lucky, somebody will drop out, and I’ll finally get a chance to prove myself. Just maybe.
There are some days I just want to give up. Yes, there are days I just want to stay home and let the world pass by around me. There are days I’d rather do anything than go out and be the ‘best me’. Sometimes I feel that I have every right to throw my hands up in the air and walk away from everything. Maybe I do. But what would be the reward in that? How could I invest so much effort, only to throw it all away?
It’s easy to say “yes’ to God when God says “yes” to you. It’s easy to feel the favor of God when he does us a favor. By nature we tend to measure God’s love for us based on our checklist of answered prayers.
But what about when He says “no?” or at least, “not right now?” What about when he’s silent? What about when He answers your friend’s prayers but not yours? When things don’t go your way. When God doesn’t seem to give you those things that your heart most longs for?
This is where things get complicated.
Where is my miracle?
So often faith is spoken of as if it’s a form of currency. Now follow the instructions carefully: Deposit your faith into the Holy Spirit vending machine and you’ll promptly get your miracle dropped right into your hands!
But it doesn’t always work that way.
No, see, when we are faithful, we are faithful for something more than just instant gratification. We are faithful for a much grander purpose. A purpose that often goes unseen, for months, or years…maybe even for a lifetime.
As much as we’d like to see results for our efforts, at times it will appear we’ve made no measurable impact (key word: appear). And, when we use faith as an excuse to put God in a box, we will ultimately lose out in the end. (Even when we do get our way).
If we think that our life circumstances are a direct result of our Christian ’success’, then we will always be left discouraged, wondering when we’ll ever be ‘good enough’ to earn a gold star of approval. We will never come even close to overcoming discouragement.
I think one of the best example I could use to illustrate this is the biblical account of Job. Here is a man who is described as a man of great faith. A true believer who could not be rivaled.
Job 1:1 – “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”
And yet, the devil had handpicked him to suffer. He became terribly ill, lost his children, and his remaining wife insisted that he “just curse God and die!” (Be sure to thank your supportive spouse if you have one)
The thing is, he wasn’t reaping what he sowed. No, he wasn’t living in intentional sin. In fact, God himself says that Job is blameless and that there was not another man like him on earth (Job 1:8).
I find this pretty amazing well, because, I am far from blameless (Yeah, I’ve got a few things I’m still working on…)
That’s not to say that Job was perfect either. After all, he wasn’t Jesus. In fact, I think that what made Job distinct was not that he was sinless, but rather, that he ‘feared God’. Not that he lived in a constant state of anxiety, but that he cared deeply about what God thought about him. That means he had a meaningful relationship with his creator. That means that he never accepted failure. Instead, he made a habit of examining his own heart. That’s my perspective anyway.
And I think all of this, is exactly why Job grappled with so many questions.
He struggled to understand why a loving God would allow him to bottom out, why he would allow him to endure such hardship. He cannot find any compassion in the world around him. It was when he needed them the most that the people around him had abandoned him.
He had faith in God, for sure. And yet, for so long God appeared to be silent in his story. He could not seem to succeed in overcoming his discouragement. It seemed that no matter how hard he tried, Job could do nothing to stop the onslaught of attacks on his life. And, in the face of several accusations made within his social circle, he could do nothing but defend himself. He attempts to correct their judgmental perspectives to no avail. Thus ensues a long, drawn out conversation Job and his friends, ending with an intervention.
And this is where God steps in.
The Final Act
Job 42:10-14- And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him.
Not because Job had enough faith, or because he deserved it, but because God in his infinite wisdom knew it was time to act. He took this moment to remind Job (and company) of his sovereignty. That at the end of the day, He is still on the throne.
No further explanation is necessary.
We know that by the end of the story, Job comes out of his ordeal. We know that God restored everything he had lost and more. After everything was said and done, the only thing that mattered was God’s final word. No force in existence could stop His intended purpose from being fulfilled. As hard as satan had tried to inflict permanent damage, these efforts came to nothing. Every ill-intentioned threat turned out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Every attempt destroy Job’s faith was completely in vain.
Time for a mental shift
So, I wonder what it would take for us to truly trust in God? To put to rest all of our fears and insecurities? What would it take to walk through the heat of a fiery trial with the confidence to know that whatever happens, everything is resting safely in God’s hands? Even when we understand what we are at risk to lose. Even when it seems we will never achieve what we had hoped to achieve.
What if our faith is meant to be so much more than just a way to secure an expected outcome?
Maybe it isn’t faith that we’re afraid of, maybe it’s disappointment. After all, we all have our stories. There are times that life will leave us disillusioned. There are those longings which reside in our soul and seem to find no relief. Sometimes there is an ache in our heart that is just too painful for any human to heal.
The good news is, there is someone who can.
At the risk of sounding cliche’, that someone, is Jesus.
And he is, in fact, the greatest gift we could ever receive. Even when we are forced to dwell in a place of perceived loss, nothing could beat the joy of having a meaningful relationship with him-the one who knows and loves you fully. Aside from Jesus, there truly is no good thing on this earth that could satisfy that longing. Answered prayers can never be enough to fill the void in your heart. In the end, we can only know one thing-
God’s presence will never leave us.
Maybe this is true faith.
Not that you will always be where we want to be, but that wherever you go, He will always be with you. That whatever unexpected setback you encounter, you will have the grace to endure, and the perseverance to see your journey all the way through to its divinely-orchestrated conclusion. That you will, one way or another, fulfill your God-given purpose.
Because no matter what, God is there, even when you can’t feel him;
Even when it hurts…
And where there is faith, it will always cost you something.
In this life; there are only two guarantees: The promises of God, and His Holy Spirit that dwells within us. And, although we may find ourselves in circumstances we don’t understand, but that does not mean we can’t come out strong. We will all fail and falter at times…but this does not mean cannot be counted among those of great faith.
So if you are struggling today with the urge to quit, know that you are not alone. Many people are going through exactly what you are. With the help of God and other believers, you can begin the process of overcoming discouragement. And, while there may not be a “magic cure” to solve all of your problems, there is a way that we can make peace with this mess we call life.
We often think we need to have all the answers. But, sometimes what we need the most is to realize we don’t. There are times we need to seek wisdom and make corrections in our lives…and other times we need to rest in God’s grace, and believe that He has our best in mind. Wherever you may be today, don’t allow yourself to wallow in your feelings. Take steps that will help move you toward overcoming discouragement.
Find people who support you. I don’t mean “fair weather” friends. I mean people you can really trust. And when you do, don’t put on a facade. Be honest with friends and family. Tell them where you’re really at.
And while you’re at it, be honest with your creator! Tell him what you really need, and expect that he will meet that need. And also, know that if He does not meet your expectations, then He will exceed them (if you are patient). Then, ask him what you can do as you wait for him answer your prayers. Ask him what you can do to make the most of the life you are living.
You weren’t put on this earth to do nothing. You were designed to make a difference. God created you with a purpose in mind. I don’t know what that is, but what I know for sure, is that He does have something specific in mind, at this very moment in time.
So don’t wait until you hit rock bottom to heal your hurts…lift up your eyes today and look to the only one who can really give you answers, direction, and rest for your soul.
Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”