O my soul, don't be discouraged. Don't be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise Him for all that He will do. He is my help! He is my God!
I have been thinking a lot about discouragement and its dangers. You can read my first post on it here. But it’s not enough to simply know that discouragement is a danger to our souls. Knowledge must turn into action--what the Bible calls wisdom.
While there is no way to banish discouragement from our hearts entirely on this side of the resurrection, there is a way out from under it. But it isn't something new. I do not have a new formula or special words that will magically get rid of our discouragement. No matter how hard we look for a quick and easy solution we won't find it. We have to go back to the means God has prescribed for us, the means of grace. That is all we need. While there are many "means" today I will mention only a few.
1. God's Word
We must, must, must read the word of God regularly. We cannot rely on other books or blog posts (no matter how helpful or inspiring) to transform our hearts. It is the word of God that is sharper than a sword, and nothing else has such an edge that can penetrate the heart.
Beg of Christ to exercise his spiritual surgery upon you. Desire him to lance your heart and cut out the rotten flesh, and that he would apply the medicine of his blood to heal you. Thomas Watson
God uses his word to “lance our hearts” and heal us from discouragement. There we find the truth of God and the gospel of God. If discouragement is a loss of hope, we need God to remind us of his character and work on our behalf, his love for us and his promises to us in Jesus Christ. To benefit from such things we must be in his word.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Discouragement is a challenge from the Devil or the flesh, to give up. But in Philippians we see that there is hope for those who persevere in prayer. Do not give up! Be like the persistent widow and plead with Christ for as long as it takes for him to send you encouragement, lift your downcast soul, and restore to you the joy of your salvation.
Prayer is called a ‘wrestling’ and a ‘pouring out of the soul’. Prayer is compared to incense (Psalm 141:2). Incense without fire makes no sweet smell. Prayer without fervency is like incense without fire.
Those who pray without ceasing find a peace which surpasses all understanding. The affliction and trouble may remain, but there is grace in the midst of all of it. Relief is on the way It may not be found right this moment, but don't quit. God will guard you.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Since discouragement is often birthed when things don’t go the way we had planned or thought they would. We lose hope and find ourselves complaining, having a pity party, or simply growing angry. Thanksgiving is a cure for discouragement because it recognizes God's generosity and results in humility. It is a bending to the will of God acknowledging that our situation in life stems from the kind and wise providence of God who works all things to the good of those who belong to him. Giving thanks in all circumstances ( 1 Thess. 5:18 ) for all things (Eph. 5:20 ) will kill discouragement.
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.
God said that it is not good for man to be alone. This does not only apply to marriage, but to friendship as well. It is not good to try and live the Christian life alone. We can’t! We need fellow brothers and sisters to correct us when we are in danger of taking a wrong turn, to encourage us with kind words and a godly example, to hug us when we are sad, to love us when we mess up, to teach us when we don’t know the answer and to laugh with us as we enjoy God’s good gifts in life.
You know you have found a good friend when they evoke in you a desire to love Christ more and to pursue holiness more seriously.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
It is not enough to simply read the Bible, though there may be times when that is all that we are capable off. We must also meditate. To think over and ponder the truth we have read and learned.
Here are a couple things to think long and hard about:
God’s goodness - God's goodness is equal to his greatness says Richard Baxter
God's providence - God directs everything in our lives. Nothing takes him by surprise and everything comes about for his glory.
Though the world seems to run at random in blind confusion and rude disorder, yet God governs it to make perfect harmony out of all the seeming discords.
God's love - Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our lord!
Christ’s death - That a perfect God would become man, suffer on behalf of thankless, wayward people, die in our place to satisfy the anger of God is more than we can ever truly understand.
Meditating on the gospel and all its implications and practical applications will drive away discouragement.
You will be discouraged. I will experience it again, I am sure. But I am also sure that there is deliverance for the discouraged, and "uplifting for the downcast," if we will but give ourselves to the means of grace God has given us.