We’ve all been through seasons of discouragement, where things just aren’t working out like we wanted and we feel tempted to give up and despair. Maybe you have been job hunting for months and despite your best efforts, nothing has panned out yet. Maybe you have been waiting for your spouse to enter your life and are worried they may never come. Maybe you and your wife have been eagerly waiting to see if your offer was accepted for your dream home, only to hear that the seller has chosen another buyer.
When we experience repeated setbacks like this, it can lead to discouragement. You may find yourself wondering if it’s even worth it to keep going, or even becoming angry at God for not “blessing your efforts.” Whatever your situation, God sees us in those seasons and He has prepared encouragement in His Word to help us through it and reach the other side.
Letting Go of Wanting to Control
The first step to combatting discouragement is submitting to the reality that you don’t have all the answers. Recognize that you need God to work on your behalf. Our earthly understanding wants to solve the problem ourselves – it’s our first instinct. This may manifest in sitting down and just meditating on it, examining the issue from every direction, trying to find a clear path that leads to our desired destination. We might also call around to friends and family, beseeching their opinions and advice towards a solution. While doing these things may feel good and productive in the moment, it by no means guarantees success.
Essentially it all comes down to control. We have to remember that because we have Jesus, it’s no longer up to us to solve the problem. To coin a phrase, we have to “let go and let God.”
What His Word Says
Proverbs 3:5-6 says,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
What a blessing that we have all-powerful, omniscient God who loves us deeply and wants to help us! He sees the end from the beginning. He knows exactly what your needs are and the perfect way to meet them according to His ideal timing. It’s no longer on us to meet our own needs or solve our own problems. 1 Corinthians 2:5 says,
So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
What a relief that we don’t have to take care of it ourselves! God wants to show up on your behalf. Stand on these scriptures when you face discouragement. Believe that He will open a way for you. Put your hope in His character and His provision, not your circumstances or your own understanding.
Focusing On God, Not the Problem
The second step to overcoming discouragement is shifting your focus from the situation onto God. This may sound simple enough, but it can be very challenging in practice. Your flesh will naturally fight against you, demanding you fix what’s causing you pain so you don’t have to hurt anymore. However, like we discussed earlier, we have to let go and let God handle it.
This won’t be a “one and done” event. You will have to consciously refocus on God every time your flesh pulls you away, maybe dozens of times a day. It will be difficult at first, but as you exercise this behavior, eventually it will become second nature.
God wants to be our source in every situation, but if aren’t focused on Him, we can’t receive from Him. Here are some aspects of His character to focus on when you face discouragement.
God Is Faithful
This is a statement you may hear a lot in religious circles, but don’t let it become simple background noise – because it’s true! 2 Timothy 2:13 says,
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
What an incredibly powerful scripture. For God to be unfaithful, He would have to defy His very nature, to act against what makes Him God. He is not fickle like people can be. He never changes, which means He will always, always come through for us, even when we don’t deserve it.
When we meditate on this truth, it dissolves our fear. We no longer have to look to the future and worry. God’s got us. He will faithfully provide in every season, in every circumstance, in every situation. Always.
God’s Promises Are True For You
The Bible is full of God’s promises, some delivered in the form of parables, others wise sayings, others direct statements about what He will do for us. These are the anchors you can cling to when you are in the middle of a storm in your life. They are always true in every situation because they are based on God’s character, which never changes. Because He says in His Word that He will always meet our needs, we can depend that He will meet those needs. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says,
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
In others words, all the promises of God are “yes and amen” to you. They are always true and always available. We don’t have to negotiate with God to get Him to do what He’s already said He’s going to do. All we have to do is find a promise, stand on it in faith (confess it over our situation), and trust that God is going to act on our behalf.
Discouragement can make us feel helpless, like we’re a victim of our circumstances. Don’t give in to that feeling! We are victorious in Christ and God is always ready to act on our behalf. These promises unlock that victory for you. When it feels like God has forgotten about you, or you are afraid that He won’t keep His promise to bless you in your life, come back to 2 Corinthians 1:20. He has said that He will keep all of His promises in His Word! We just have to remember that and trust Him, His plan, and His timing.
If God Did It For Them, He Will Do It For You
When we read about these glorious promises in God’s Word, and learn about His unconditional, never-ending love for us, it can be hard to feel like we qualify to receive it. The enemy preys on that feeling, whispering lies into our hearts and trying to get us to doubt God’s character and our relationship with Him. And when we see others being blessed, it’s challenging to believe that God will also bless us. However, if you feel that way, you need to recognize that as a lie from the enemy and not the truth. Romans 2:11 says,
For there is no partiality with God.
God doesn’t bless some of His children more than others. He’s not looking at your life and saying, “This other person deserves this blessing more than you, so I’m going to give it to them instead.” That’s not how God operates! Because of Jesus’s sacrifice, we all qualify for the goodness He wants to pour out on us.
Let’s go briefly go back to God’s promises. These promises are not a reflection of the people who receive them, but a reflection of what God’s will and character are. It’s His will to bless us! It’s in His nature to be generous, far beyond we could ever ask or think! There is no limit to His love for us, so why would there be a limit to His blessings?
God is the same person to everyone and never changes. He is not going to treat you less or more lovingly than your neighbor. We all receive the fullness of His character and goodness.
So when you look at a blessing your neighbor has received, don’t give in to discouragement. Don’t give in to the temptation to think, “God, how come they get this blessing and I don’t?” Instead, trust in God’s character and trust that He will work out everything in your life according to His best for you. He knows what you need and He will never abandon you. Choose faith, not discouragement!
God Loves You
Unless we understand and believe in God’s love for us, we can’t truly trust and receive in His promises. He loves us so much more than any of us are able to fathom and He gives this love to us freely. Everyone knows the verse John 3:16, but have you taken the time to truly meditate on it?
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
God’s love is so great that He sent His Son, a part of Himself, to die for us and open up the way to fellowship with us. There is nothing He won’t do for us and nothing that can stop Him from loving us. He promised us that all we had to do was believe in His Son’s sacrifice and we would be saved. That’s it. No good deeds to earn His favor, no demanded monuments built in His name, just a simple choice and a desire for a relationship with Him.
If we keep reading in John, verse 17 says,
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.
This verse addresses a common misconception so many people have of God. He’s not an angry or vengeful God – He’s not the kid with the magnifying glass ready to smite us lowly ants. He isn’t judging you. He loves you. He wants a relationship with you, He wants you to know Him and know the depth of His love for you.
If you have children, think about how much you love them, how you would do anything for them, sacrifice your very life if you had to. That’s how God feels about you. You are His beloved child, immeasurably priceless and precious to Him. Believe in His love for you! It makes trusting Him so much easier.
God Has A Part For Us To Play
When we face discouragement, we may be tempted to look up to God and ask, “where are you? Why aren’t you acting in my situation?” God is always on our side, and He always wants to help us, but sometimes He requires us to partner with Him in our situation.
Now, I want to establish very clearly that we don’t ever have to earn His favor. Our relationship with Him is not transactional – we don’t have to perform a certain action to buy His action on our behalf. However, He does care about our development and He wants us to play a proactive part in it. He did not design us to idly sit on the sidelines while He does all the work on the playing field. He wants us to work alongside Him to build His kingdom on this earth! 1 Peter 5:6-10 says,
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
This verse is both a promise and a recipe for receiving that promise. If you want God to exalt and establish you, He asks that you first submit yourself to Him. If you are in the midst of discouragement, ask yourself, “Am I submitted to God in this situation? Am I trusting that no matter what happens, He is going to get me to the other side? Am I willing to do whatever He asks me to do?”
The second step in the recipe is to resist the devil. We are not helpless when he comes to cast doubt in our hearts. Questions like, “What if I never get out of this? What if God doesn’t come through for me?” reveal that the devil is trying to erode your faith. Discouragement is linked to fear. Don’t let fear be your response. Combat it with faith! Support that faith with scripture! Speak those scriptures over yourself, your friends and family, and your situation. We are not victims – don’t let yourself feel like one. God has created us to be more than conquerors.
Taking the Bite Out of Discouragement
There are three main points I want you to walk away with:
- You are not alone – God is with you.
- God’s promises are true for you in every situation.
- You are not a victim – God has a part for you to play.
If you are struggling with discouragement today, don’t give up. There is hope and you can find it in God. Be encouraged today and find some scriptures to stand on when you feel that fear of the future try to worm its way back into your heart. It may not seem like it now, but soon and very soon, God will bring you to the other side, stronger and more blessed than you were before.