Perhaps only you know the reasons. You know the issues. Your marriage. Your children. Your job. Your health. Life can be so hard and so complex.
Maybe you have been on Facebook already today. So many posts speak of “amazing marriages” or “awesome kids.” Or they speak of incredible jobs or once in a lifetime vacations. That is great, but I do know that in times of discouragement, such words may be difficult to read.
At the moment you may not feel amazing or awesome. Yes, you’ve had some amazing and awesome times in your life. However, right now, you may be discouraged. Perhaps you just spoke with a friend about her week. After she updated you, she said almost glibly, “It’s all good.” You thought, “Well that’s not my life. It’s not all good!”
Sometimes, I also experience discouragement. At times, I feel boxed in, not knowing what to do. On some occasions, I have felt completely out of emotional and spiritual energy. During such times, one can even feel fatigued physically.
I want to share with you what has helped me. No magic. No silver bullet or quick fix. However, during discouraging seasons, one of the best moves that we can make is to be intentional about our lives. Do what contributes toward what is good, right, positive, and constructive. Avoid behaviors that only make matters worse.
The following have been helpful to me:
- Use your greatest resource which is prayer. Pray. Pray. You may be in a battle with the evil one for one of your children or for your marriage. Pray. Prayer is the greatest resource you have to deal with your problems. Go to your war room and do battle! Pray.
- Run from the devil and his schemes. He is aiming for your defeat so that one less person on the earth gives glory to God. In your discouragement, you may be tempted to make an unwise phone call, lose yourself in an erotic novel, or justify yielding to a temptation. Know that yielding to temptation is the devil’s fraudulent promise. Instead of life getting better, sin only digs a deeper hole.
- Make a short list of the encouraging people in your life and begin calling these people regularly. Call several each week. Developing this habit can be energizing over time. Take the initiative to do this.
- Get a clean piece of paper and begin making a gratitude list. Write down what you are thankful for and who you are thankful for. Consider sending notes to some, thanking them for what they have meant to you.
- Read Scriptures that speak of God’s love, care, and power (Psalm 16:8; 27:1; 37:39; 46:1-3; 55:22; 138:3; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 19:26; 2 Corinthians 4:16; I Peter 5:7). Remember that Paul in a moment that could have been so discouraging declared that, “The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17-18).
- Choose to do good for others. There is something about serving others that in some way can help to take our minds off ourselves.
- Don’t wait on things to get better before you take the positive, intentional steps you need to take. Far too many people passively wait for something to happen. We keep waiting for someone else to make a move. Waiting on a child to do better. Waiting on a spouse to change. Waiting to see if the drug treatment words. When one is discouraged, it is easy to become frozen, immobile, and passive. This is a dead-end street.
- Put into your mind things that are encouraging and helpful, while avoiding unnecessary discouraging situations. For example: During times of discouragement, there are certain kinds of people I know that I don’t need to spend much time with. Such people can suck the joy out of most any situation. During such times, I don’t need to spend a lot of time with people who gripe and complain. Instead, I need to put into my mind, things that are helpful and encouraging. Read articles, listen to podcasts, and read books that in some way give you joy and encouragement.
- Talk to a godly counselor or a mature believer to whom you can confide. It can be very hard to bear discouragement alone. Pray about this and look for a way to make this happen.
- Keep your body fit. The temptation, when discouraged, can be to let your body go. Consequently, you overeat, get no exercise, and spend too much time in front of the television. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Can’t leave the house? Stretch. Just do something besides sitting in a chair.
Discouragement can be difficult. Which of these ten practices could you begin with?