"And now I exhort you—to be of good cheer!"
I am sure that every single person on earth has at one time or another experienced discouragement. I will be the first to admit that I struggle with it. Just last week I was feeling discouraged about a number of things and it lasted quit a few days. Ugh. Here is what I have learned. It turns out that discouragement is not as harmless as I once thought.
Essentially, discouragement is a loss of hope or confidence. This feeling cripples faith in some, and inspires sin in others. Yet, most of us don’t realize just how dangerous discouragement is, I know I didn't.
Here are 7 dangers of discouragement:
1. Leads to doubt and unbelief
When discouragement sets up home in our hearts it leaves us temporarily blind to many of the truths of God. We lose sight of his goodness, kindness, generosity, sovereignty and love. We begin to doubt the very things that the day before we would have confidently spoken about.
2. Leads to selfishness
When we are discouraged it is like we have put on blinders and all we see is our circumstance and nothing else. We become useless to those around us. We are locked in our own little world of hopelessness and meloncholy and end up with a "poor-me" attitude.
3. Leads to a weak watch against temptation
There is much in our lives that wants to steer us in the wrong direction: the world with its temptations, the devil with his sneaky schemes, and the human heart with its fickle love and desires. We need to be on our guard, but if we fall prey to the influence of discouragement we will end up very distracted, weak, and dull.
4. Leads to carelessness with our tongue
The discouraged will be much more apt to be careless with their tongue. It will be much easier to lash out at someone, complain, or even use inappropriate words because of a heart that is consumed with our circumstances. Discouragement weakens our self control.
5. Leads to anger
I think most of us have seen children try to build something while their blocks keep falling over leading them to become discouraged and even angry. This doesn’t just happen to children. Adults also have a tendency to get angry after a period of discouragement. Maybe we have set our mind to getting the house under control for the 100th time, but it is not working out, again. We end up discouraged and frustrated with ourselves. Others have been trying for a long time to conceive a baby. Years go by and their arms are still empty, this time discouragement might lead to anger towards God.
6. Leads to giving up
Discouragement sucks the energy out of a person. Instead of working hard it makes you want to lay around. Discouragement says “why bother” and depending on our level of discouragement we listen to it and give up, at least for a little while.
Discouragement makes the hard path—much harder; and the heavy load—much heavier.
- J.R. Miller
How many of us have quit exercising, given up on memorizing scripture, stopped disciplining the kids, or slowed in our attempts to strengthen our marriage due to discouragement?
7. Leads to becoming a discourager.
Someone who is discouraged will, in turn, become a discourager by making negative and pessimistic remarks to others. Instead of speaking words of joy, comfort, and encouragement they leave those around them disheartened.
We cannot afford to let discouragement take over our lives. There is too much damage it can cause.
When discouragement starts to creep into our hearts we need to quickly fight against it. To leave that valley of death and climb up to where the sun is shining, THE Son.
How then do we fight against discouragement?
That is something I’m still working on. And next week, I'm hoping to share some practical things I’m doing to fight against it.