How Discouragement Happens
It’s the moments where I am caught off guard that affect me the most, when I don’t see the impact coming.
Times such as when…
- My “friend” called me to tell me about the girl’s trip she and our other friends took without inviting me.
- The pastor’s wife (of long ago) disbanded the women’s ministry team I was on and reformed it without me.
- My co-worker at the school where I taught stabbed me in the back.
- We received the phone call revealing one more act of rebellion at the hands of one of our children.
Moments such as these have left me reeling.
What Discouragement Feels Like
Spiraling is probably a better description because downward is most certainly the direction I went!
For others, it can be a long wait or a time of endurance- a dream delayed or dashed, a selfish spouse who keeps “taking”, a job loss, a child receiving a diagnosis. Sometimes it is our bodies that betray us, refusing to cooperate with the health needed for a “normal” life.
We all know those moments…..when the swell of discouragement comes crashing in.
We feel more than disappointed. We feel crushed, dejected.
I think some people are more plagued by this tendency than others, but I think we all feel the weight of this emotion at one time or another. Jesus certainly had His own opportunities to feel discouragement.
How Jesus Encountered Discouragement
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.
But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
What was His response?
What a discouraging time at “home”?! Jesus had returned to where He was raised to minister to the hometown crowd. What transpired was anything BUT encouraging.
This scene seems to encapsulate what the root of discouragement can often be- unmet expectations.
Do you know that feeling? I sure do!!
It seems that as many areas that our lives comprise, there are many opportunities to become disappointed in our expectations.
And discouragement can come flooding in!
What surprises me is how Jesus did not seem to let it get to Him. He appears to walk right through the negativity without letting it weigh Him down, as though the discouragement never has a chance to cling to Him.
How does Jesus do this?
How can He not be affected by the people around Him, the events taking place in His life that are certainly not conducive to building Him up but rather for tearing Him down? Jesus may have indeed FELT the pain of rejection but without letting it drive Him into dejection.
Psalm 42:6 gives us a clue.
“My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you…”
What then can we remember about God that will help when we feel downcast?
8 Ways To Counter Discouragement With Scripture
1] Remember God is with us.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
2] Remember God’s Word is critical for our ability to overcome with strength and perspective.
“Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. “
1 Chronicles 22:13
3] Remember it is God who will equip us to fulfill His purpose and that is to be our priority.
“Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.”
1 Chronicles 28:20
4] Remember it is God who will fight for us.
“Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
2 Chronicles 20:15
5] Remember it is God who will deliver us when we face our battles in life.
“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
2 Chronicles 20:17
6] Remember God is greater in us than any foe we may face.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.”
2 Chronicles 32:7
7] Remember we are not to retaliate but to entrust our trials to the Lord.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
1 Peter 2:23
8] Remember to focus on what is good and right, rejecting the negative thought cycle.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
How to Move Forward Encouraged
It is through remembering God's promises and the example of Christ that we overcome discouragement. Click To Tweet
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I have found that as I understand discouragement is a temptation and scheme from the devil, it helps me recognize the emotional cycle I am experiencing. At that point, I turn to God’s Word to identify the lie I am believing from the enemy and therefore counter it with God’s truth and promises. Considering what I have to be grateful for in other areas and using worship music brings my discouragement to an end and replaces it with encouragement.
Just as Jesus was able to walk right through His moment of discouragement and go on His way, so can we. We will not be bound by the unmet expectations of those around us or defined by the disappointing circumstances of our life.
We will “remember” and walk through to freedom!