Lately, I have been discouraged. Being without water for days on end, then electricity, again for days on end and the inconvenience and chaos that automatically ensues can do this to a person. When life as we know it changes without warning, and without what I like to call a “restoration date” – a date when there is an expected return to “normal” life, the dark cloud of discouragement will move in. If you let it.
There are just so many reasons to become discouraged. Relational strife, financial difficulties, being overlooked for a promotion at work… The list really is endless. Day-to-day life can be challenging, and discouragement can easily set in as it is our natural response to life’s disappointments and struggles.
But if we allow ourselves to live in a constant state of discouragement, it will eventually lead us down a path of negative emotions and ultimately, away from God.
So, what steps can we take when we feel the heavy cloud of discouragement start to move in?
- Be honest about how we feel. Before we can take action against the negative feeling of discouragement, we must first admit that it is real. Everyone experiences negative emotions, it’s what we do with them that matters.
- Take care of our bodies. The circumstances of our lives can be draining to the point of exhaustion and sickness, which means that we simply have to stop and rest before we can recharge and gain fresh perspective.
- Pay attention to our thought life. What we think about ourselves, our situation and God needs to be evaluated in the context of the Word of God, to determine whether what we think and believe is actually true.
- Train ourselves to “see” our life out of two lenses at the same time. It is not easy to see both the “here and now” (where life can be hard) as well as the eternal (where God’s purposes are at work), yet that is what the apostle Paul encourages us to do in 2 Corinthians 4:18 — to fix our eyes on the unseen (what is eternal) rather than the seen (what is fleeting or temporary).
- Draw closer to God. When troubles come, as they inevitably do, a personal relationship with God allows us to release our burdens to the Mighty One Who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and promises to never leave us nor forsake us, no matter our circumstances (Deuteronomy 31:6).
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