Discouragement is very common in our day. I am not referring to emotional ups and downs which we all experience daily from the circumstances around us. Neither am I referring to mood swings that may be caused by various medical problems.
I am referring to a way of seeing the world and living a life that leads only to discouragement and helplessness. The Bible calls it a disease; it robs us of our purpose, our sense of meaning, and we see only our problems. We experience a loss of energy and strength.
Discouragement does not bypass Christians. We live in this sinful world as everyone else does. We are influenced by the same events and ideas. We may respond to our surroundings out of the same set of emotions and reactions as the unbeliever. But we need to bear in mind that we are in the world but not of the world.
1) When we look at ourselves and our circumstances rather than to the Lord.
This happens when we dwell on our sinfulness, and our enemy Satan shows us that we are weak, worthless, and unworthy to be called God’s children. When this happens we need not despair. Look to Christ and remember His word: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” ().
Christ summed up the problem of discouragement with one word, “unbelief,” or lack of faith. Remember this, young people, when faced with hard situations in your life. Christ was tempted and tried on all scores, but He never lost faith. He kept a constant communication with Heaven. In like manner let us not lose faith, let us keep studying God’s word and we will find peace and, above all, the answers we need to face whatever circumstances that may be causing us to feel discouraged. Read. Rahab the harlot is counted among those who had faith. She might have been discouraged with her life at some stage—one may even think she was a hopeless case. The Bible does not give us details of her repentance, but in , we learn that her conversion was not an isolated case of God’s mercy toward idolaters who acknowledged His divine authority. Let us remember God’s converting power when we are tempted to let ourselves get discouraged in our Christian life, even when faced with trials in the church. We must not look to people or circumstances but to Jesus Christ as our only infallible Example. Human beings make mistakes, and when this happens let us not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of judging our brethren. Instead, pray with them to overcome and we will cease to be discouraged.
2) We may get discouraged when God acts differently from what we expect.
Read. After Christ died, the hopes of the disciples were shattered. They had had high expectations. They were looking forward to Christ becoming the king of the Jews, and naturally they expected to be given high positions to rule with Him. They expected Him to take power and redeem Israel (see ). But when He died on the cross, they felt like failures, they despaired, and some became skeptical. All because they were discouraged. They wrestled with their understanding of the cross and the death of Jesus. They looked at the whole scene with unbelief, which was prompted by a failure to see the Old Testament prophecies about Christ—a failure to accept Scripture as a guide and authority for their faith. We are no different from them today when we allow ourselves to lose our faith and fail to focus on the promises in God’s word. How can we focus if we do not study? Dear young people, if ever there was a time when we have needed to dig deeper into the Scriptures, it is today!
Another example of unbelief came when Abraham, who was called the friend of God, allowed doubt to overcome him when he agreed to give in to Satan’s suggestion to have a child in a way that was not in God’s plan. This is an example of things done by Christians when they lose faith.
Symptoms of discouragement include emotional and spiritual despondency—deep sadness. These lead to confusion, brokenness of spirit, and irritability—grouchiness. There are examples of this in the Bible when the Israelites expected a deliverer, and also when they were about to enter the promised land but were delayed.
* Think of what you know of God through the Gospel and apply it in your daily life.
* Think against your feelings which may lead you to discouragement.
* Talk yourself out of the gloom those feelings spread.
* Unmask and admit the unbelief being indulged.
* Encourage yourself, look up from your problems to the God of the Gospel.
* Let evangelistic thinking correct emotional thinking. (Focusing on helping others puts you in a better mood right away.)
* Make a commitment to believe the Scriptures; make them your guide.
* Make learning God’s Word a priority.
* Learn of God, the plan of salvation, and His will for His people.
* View the world through the lens of Scripture.
Let us see ourselves in the world, being guided by God’s statement of what is true and real. It is my greatest wish and prayer for every young person who will read this article never to utter the words, “I am discouraged.” May God bless us as we continue to study His Word!