The other day, out of the blue, discouragement washed over me. Words spoken poured over my soul like a bucket of cold water.
I’m about to confess something to you that took me by surprise, so when I tell you, please don’t think less of me. I can’t believe the thought came to my mind either.
I actually thought, “God hates me.”
Yep. Those words fluttered through my mind! I have never had such a terrible thought, and I pray I never entertain it again.
(Don’t worry, the thought is gone, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. Keep reading.)
The Lie within Discouragement
I knew this hateful thought wasn’t from the Lord. But it hung heavy in my spirit. All evening I wrested and silently prayed for God to help me, and the most remarkable thing happened. Checking the mail, I found a very sweet, encouraging note from one of my friends/readers.
Encouraging words at just the right time.
God also led me to this post I wrote a few years ago. He’s so good to us. My friends, He does not hate us. It’s quite the opposite. But when we are discouraged, doors slammed in our faces time and time again, dreams so far out of reach, it sure can feel that way.
Billy Graham’s Quote on Discouragement
SOME OF THE GREATEST MEN AND WOMEN OF FAITH BATTLED DISCOURAGEMENT. One of them was Billy Graham. I love this quote from him: “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.”
The fact that Billy Graham felt discouraged makes me feel better. If such a great evangelist who brought millions to faith in Jesus had his downhearted, frustrated, “I want to quit!” days, it gives me hope. There’s something powerful about camaraderie in our struggles.
Biblical giants also experienced discouragement. One of them was Elijah.
Elijah cried out to God, “I have had enough Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
In 1 Kings 19 Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal. God had sent fire from heaven and proved his power, yet Elijah felt defeated. Israel had not turned their hearts to God as he hoped, and Queen Jezebel, his enemy, demanded Elijah’s death.
Discouragement blinds us to truth. It makes us believe we’ve failed.
When we’re stuck in discouragement, we think we’re all alone as Elijah did, but God countered Elijah’s perspective. He had not failed. Seven thousand believers lived in Israel. Seven THOUSAND!
Discouragement tells us God doesn’t care, or we aren’t good enough. But none of that is true, is it? How do I know it’s not true? Because my discouragement loses its strength when I turn to God. My hope is always renewed when my focus returns to Him. When discouragement and fear overshadowed Elijah, he ran, but once he stopped running, he cried out to God, and God met him there. I think we can learn from this story.
3 Ways to Win the Battle Against Discouragement
When we’re tired, frustrated, and discouraged we need to:
1. Get away from the problem. Take a walk. Go for a drive. Take a day off work. Get a babysitter so you can have a few hours away. Turn off the computer. Stop working on the project. Sit under a tree.
2. Cry out to God, “I quit!” I know, that seems to be the antithesis of this post, but often times we need to get out of the way and let God be God. He had Elijah’s problem all figured out. If we feel we’re banging our head against a brick wall, we need advice from God–we need to do it His way. Confess your discouragement and repent your lack of trust. Repenting means turning back. Some of us need to stop trying to do things our way and turn back to God for help.
3. Pray for His vision and truth. Ask God to help you see you aren’t alone in your faith or your fight. Grab a Bible and ask Him to speak to you through His Word, and write it down. Use the Bite of Bread reading plan this week, 5 scriptures to defeat discouragement.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
- Word Study: This has got to be one of my favorite scriptures. The word “commanded” can also mean “to appoint” or “call.” So God said to Joshua, “Have I not put you in this place for such a time as this?” If God has placed us here and called us to whatever we’ve been doing, then we can trust Him in the process. Do you know who you are in Jesus? Do you believe God has given you the dream or called you to this purpose that you are so discouraged about right now? According to the rest of the scripture, why should you not be discouraged? Write a prayer asking to experience more of God’s presence.
John 16: 33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~Jesus
- Prompt: Jesus said this to His disciples as he warned them of His death. They would experience discouragement beyond faith. They would abandon Him and scatter, but Jesus promised His peace in the midst of the trouble. Pray for His peace to fill you during this time of discouragement, and ask Him what other things you can learn in this verse. Study it for awhile. Listen for His whisper.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
- Word Study: Pray for God’s grace to strengthen you. The word “mercy” is actually, eleos. It means, “Action taken out of compassion.” This is often a healing type of action. If discouraged, cry out for His grace and eleos! He understands us.
John 14: 25-28
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
- Prompt: How much have you been trying to do on your own? Have you depended on the Holy Spirit? Write a prayer of confession then ask for the Spirit to help you. Wait to follow His lead. Write down what you think He’s saying.
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
- Prompt: Take courage. Discouragement eats away at our courage. Wait on God. If things aren’t turning out the way you dreamed or hope, wait on Him. That involves trusting Him, His timing, and His plans for the outcome. As you wait, worship. Turn on your favorite worship song or Christian radio station and dance in your kitchen today. Also, begin each day during this season of discouragement on your knees in prayer.
Elijah Experienced God
The rest of Elijah’s story gives me hope. After sleep and food, he journeyed to the mountain of God where the LORD spoke to him in a gentle, quiet, small whisper. God wasn’t in the wind, or fire, or earthquake but a whisper.
The voice said to him, “What are you doing here Elijah?”
Sometimes we are looking for God to do something really big. We’re expecting Him to blow us over or shake us up. He can do those things, but rather than looking for the big signs, we need to listen for the small whisper.
“What are you doing here?” he asks.
Elijah told him. You can be honest with God too. Tell Him why you’re discouraged, then wait for Him to reply.
Discouragement is Dangerous
Discouragement is dangerous because it takes away our drive, our hope, our energy, our purpose. It makes us want to quit.
The truth is, just because I don’t feel good about today, and discouragement maybe threatening my resolve, and joy may seem so far away, tomorrow will bring new mercies.
Sometimes I just need sleep, or I just need a new perspective like what I find when I go for a walk or sit at the ocean or call a friend. I always feel better when I know I’m not the only one fighting negative thoughts. I counsel others that when the struggle is great, the enemy is worried and doing all he can to shut. us. down.
The evil serpent’s whispers are lies, truth distorted. After a few days of reeling from the terrible thought and feeling that God hated me, the Lord clearly showed me the truth. He said, “I love you, but the enemy hates you.”
It’s The Enemy’s Weapon
The enemy of our destiny works to discourage us, but rather than being upset when you feel this way, view it as a sign that you must be doing something that the enemy doesn’t like. He must be threatened by the Jesus in you, and your prayers for others, and your gifts and talents that you are using for the Kingdom.
Oh for eyes to see what we’re doing for God with eternal perspective! For eyes to see His economy as He views it not with our world’s vision.
Meet me on Facebook Wednesday night at 7:30 Eastern Time for more encouragement on how not to be discouraged. We’ll unpack these verses and talk about how we fight the discouragement bullets the enemy shoots at us all the time. You’re not alone! Remember that!