Lucia's Blog: RISING ABOVE DISCOURAGEMENT
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, April 30, 2020

RISING ABOVE DISCOURAGEMENT

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
Joshua 1:9



Discouragement is like a brick wall.  It stops the best of us in midstride at the moment of doing wonderful things. The Lord shows us the secrets of success over this darkness. He has raised up great men to show us how they faced their own disappointments, got back on their feet, and returned to active duty. There is too much to do and too little time to do it, for us to waste our time looking back. Let's study together God's recommendations to His saints who fall into disillusionment and inaction.

The way we view and respond to disappointments will determine how we press on and persevere with joy.  God's grace equips us with all that we need to respond adequately.  Disappointment is often the result of our expectations.  We seem to have no choice or control.  Disappointments can cause many unwelcome and harmful emotions for us and those around us:  anger, unforgiveness, frustration, bitterness, etc.  It can also cause us to feel hopeless, helpless, weary, depressed, lacking enthusiasm, pessimistic, bored, and half-hearted.

Indeed, life is hard. We are constantly reminded of disasters, tragedies, heartaches, the failing economy, the decline of moral principles, lawlessness, family struggles, etc.  These troublesome times make us pessimistic rather than optimistic.  Many fixate on things that are tragic and negative. We must learn to see the big picture and be able to be of good cheer.  No matter how bad things might appear, we Christians know that God loves us and will be there for us in our time of need.  He will lift us up during our difficult times.  But we must focus on God Almighty and what He can do for us.  We must learn to rejoice always, for we have the hope of heaven as our home.  Our God will strengthen us in our time of need.  So let us draw nearer to God in prayer, addressing all of our worries, fears, pessimism, and problems to Him alone.  I assure you, He will answer our prayers according to His kindness and mercy.

Consider some great men of God who overcame discouragement and disappointment and let us learn from their example.


I.  GREAT MEN OF GOD WHO OVERCAME DISCOURAGEMENT:
  • Joseph:
Joseph's discouragement and disappointment could have brought about very real emotions. Discouragement affects the heart (Proverbs 13:12). It can result in bitterness, a hardness of heart, callousness, and an unforgiving spirit.

In Genesis 42:21, we read of Joseph's anguish of heart.  His soul was anguished.  Throughout the Scriptures, we read of anguished souls.  Jesus was the greatest example, as He prepared to die on the cross for our sins.  And though we can trust God amid our discouragements and disappointments, that does not prevent us from experiencing anguish.

Throughout Joseph's disappointments, he never complained.  That is remarkable!  He was a man of quiet and mature character.  He trusted in His God, knowing that He was in control.  We must have this heart when we are discouraged and disappointed.  We must realize that our disappointments serve a purpose in our lives.

Though Joseph experienced profound disappointment in his relationship with his brothers, he focused on honoring God in every circumstance of his life (Genesis 39:2-3; 39:21-23).  In Genesis 39:6-13, Joseph:
  1. Resisted the temptations of Potiphar's wife, because he was unwilling to sin against God.  
  2. He trusted in God even though he was beaten with disappointment. 
  3. He trusted God at every turn.  
  4. Joseph chose not to worry about that which he could not control.  
  5. Though he experienced disappointment, he didn't become absorbed with life's worries: those things that were beyond his control.  
  6. He acknowledged that no matter what might happen, God was going to be glorified through him.  
  7. He likewise bloomed in every situation.  He chose to bloom where he was planted.  Even in prison, he trusted in God in the hope that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

You see, Joseph’s disappointments carried out God’s providential plan to save both him and his family.  God used disappointment to change Joseph's character.  Remember, Joseph's brothers did not appreciate his attitude.  As a young man, Joseph's conduct was not the best.  Remember, he “tattled” on his brothers and boasted about his position and dreams.  It looks like he lacked humility, wisdom, and sensitivity.

You see, pride and insensitivity produce jealousy and hatred in others.  And as God looked upon Joseph, He knew he could mold and shape him into a great man of God and used him in a mighty way.  Joseph's disappointments resulted in him becoming humble and sensitive to others. What is the lesson here?  That we must learn to lose before we can win.  That we must trust in God no matter our disappointments.  That we must stay on the right course and allow God to work in our lives.  That we must learn to train ourselves to rejoice when we are disappointed and appreciate the disguised blessings that come with it.

We must learn not to see our disappointments as disappointments but rather as an opportunity to bloom wherever we are found and to fulfill God's will in our lives.  We cannot do that without being humble.

God can use disappointments to shape our character but also to change our circumstances.  Joseph's events in life led him in the right direction, into the arms of God.  God saved the lives of many by using Joseph, a man who trusted in God through many disappointments.  

  • Moses:
Moses was overwhelmed and discouraged because he had been given great responsibility for God's people.  All they wanted to do was complain.  Moses was at his wit's end!  He was so discouraged at one point, that he wanted God to end his life if nothing changed (Numbers 11:11).

Some in Moses' shoes would have given up and walked away or taken their own life.  But Moses did not do this!  He instead went to God in prayer when he felt overwhelmed (Numbers 11:16).  We can rest assured that if we pray to God, He will provide relief.  In Moses' case, God allowed 70 men to share Moses' responsibility.  We must learn to share some of the responsibilities with others when we feel overwhelmed and when there is more than we can handle.

  • David:
When David was still a young man (a shepherd), the army of Israel was afraid.  He came to the battlefield, not as a participant, but to visit his brothers and bring a report to his father.  While he was there, he heard the mockery and the insults of Goliath. He began to wonder why no one was answering.  Sadly, the entire army was acting cowardly (1 Samuel 17:11, 24).  But David was not afraid!  He dared to go after this giant alone.  He trusted in His God rather than in his military strength or tactics (1 Samuel 17:37, 45-46).  And though he used his sling, he still trusted in God!

Today we need to remember that God is with us!  So when we feel discouraged, let us not forget that we are not standing alone.  God is with us as He has promised it (Heb. 13:5).  He will never leave us!  With God, there is no need to fear since we are standing with Him (Romans 8:31, 35-39).  So let us not be discouraged or lose heart.  Let us stand with courage, knowing that God is with us as He was with David.  Through Him, we will gain victory!

  • Joshua:
When Joshua was fighting against the small city of Ai, he expected an easy win.  To his surprise, it did not happen.  He starts blaming God for their defeat.  Does that sound familiar when we are disappointed and discouraged because things go wrong?  But, what we refuse to acknowledge is that there is something else to blame.  Joshua found this out when he prayed to God.  God told him the real problem (Joshua 7:10-12).  So what kept them from defeating Ai?  Sin!  As soon as they took care of the sin, they were able to defeat Ai.  So let us not blame God when troubling times strike us.  Instead, let us acknowledge that God is there to help us succeed so that we may rejoice in Him.  Sin in our life is often the cause of our problem, and we need to take care of it.


II.   OVERCOMING DISCOURAGEMENT AND DISSAPOINTMENT:

Discouragement and disappointment demand our immediate attention.  We must refuse to be discouraged, for neither God nor man can use a discouraged person.  Discouragement and disappointment affect our faith and renders us unprofitable.  It can infect others.  It is one of the weapons in Satan's arsenal.  He will try at all costs to discourage us and give up (2 Cor. 2:11). We cannot allow him to drag us down.

In times of discouragement, God will be there to help us.  But we must determine not to remain discouraged.  Consider what we must do when we are discouraged.

  • Determine Not to Remain Discouraged:  
We need to determine that we will not stay down. We must use mental discipline.  The Bible speaks a lot of physical discipline and self-control.  It also encourages us to use mental discipline (Proverbs 23:7; 2 Cor. 10:5). So we must determine not to be discouraged.  God has given us everything we need to overcome discouragement. 

  • Insist on Finding the Good in Every Circumstance: 
This is crucial to defeating discouragement.  David said,
“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:7).  

So often affliction in our life compels us to turn our hearts back to the Word of God.  

  • Set Realistic Goals:  
Setting achievable goals helps us to deal with discouragement.  So often those who become discouraged and disappointed find out that they have set their goals so high that they will never reach them.  On the other hand, if you set your goals too low, knowing in your heart, you can do more, discouragement, and disappointment may still set it in.  So don't set your goals too high or too low.  God knows our hearts and abilities, and He can make us become more than we can imagine.

One Scripture that might help us to set realistic goals is found in Matt. 25. We read about a five talent man, a two talent man, and one talent man.  All three had abilities.   We must become greater and faithful servants of God.  It will help us set realistic goals that we can achieve.  When we use our abilities in the Lord's service, it will bless us and bring comfort to us (Mark 14:3).  

  • Cultivating a Positive Outlook on Life Helps Us with Discouragement:  
Some Christians’ outlook on life is so pessimist, gloom, and doom that they allow themselves to feel discouraged all the time.  They forget to acknowledge that they are serving a living God who is all-knowing, all-powerful.  He has promised us He will make all things work together for our good.  So how in the world can a Christian go around with a pessimist attitude?!  As children of God, we need to be more optimistic.  Our outlook determines our outcome. 

  • Observe God's Dealings with His Children and Be Thankful:  
That is, count your many blessings and see what the Lord has done for you.  When we observe how God has dealt with us, it should encourage us.  When we think about how much mercy and love God has bestowed on us, it will help us not to be discouraged and lose heart.  God stands on all His promises, and He will not forsake us (Psalm 37:25, John 10:29).  When we acknowledge how God has never failed us, it will help us to overcome discouragement in our life.   

  • Use Difficult Times to Strengthen Your Faith:  
We can rest assured that we all will have difficult times in our life.  We can use these difficult times to destroy us and weaken our faith, or on the other hand, we can use them to strengthen our faith.  Think of Paul and Job, who faced difficult times throughout their lives but did not allow their difficulties to overwhelm them (Job 14:1; 2 Tim. 2:3). Thus, as soldiers of Christ is His army, we must endure hardship and choose to learn and grow from them.  In doing this, we can rest assured that our faith will grow.  

  • Resist the Devil:  
Discouragement is one of Satan's wiles.  So we must resist him!  (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9).  When we are steadfast in our faith, we will resist Satan.  Through God's Word, we have the assurance that if we resist the devil in whatever he throws at us, he will flee from us.  It should encourage us to know that our brethren are experiencing the same difficulties we are and are not allowing Satan to discourage them.  If they can overcome their discouragement, we can too!

  • Avoid Self-Pity at All Costs:  
This is where we get into trouble so many times.  We must understand that discouragement and disappointment are universal and that our brethren have experienced the same things we are (1 Peter 5:9).  So when you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself, believing that you have it so bad, why not think of what our Lord Jesus had to endure for you and me on this earth, all of His sufferings? (Hebrews 12:1).

  • Get Involved in The Lord's Work So That You Can Overcome Discouragement: 
It is no surprise that Satan overwhelms us at times, simply because we are too stagnant and idle, making it easier for him.  Choose to get involved in God's work and be about His business, and don't be idle.  The more work we do for God, the more focused we will be on Him, and the fewer times we will be discouraged (Acts 26:20).

  • Encourage Others:  
This is another good way to defeat discouragement.  It helps a lot!  Encouragement is the best weapon to combat discouragement.  So we must learn to encourage one another and be more like Barnabas. He was a great encourager to the apostles.  His name literally means son of encouragement (Acts 4:36).  Another great example is Timothy (1 Thess. 3:1-3).  He encouraged the Thessalonians tremendously to remain faithful to God through their many afflictions.  So let us be encouragers like Timothy and Barnabas.

  • Make Prayer a Daily Habit:  
Surrender yourself to prayers.  We must make prayer a daily habit to thoroughly overcome discouragement (Luke 18:1).  We lose heart when we don't pray the way we ought to.  And that is exactly what discouragement is, losing heart.  I assure you that if you pray and study the Word of God when you are discouraged, you will not lose heart either.  I have noticed this in my life.  So pray, pray, and don’t faint.  Take it to the feet of Jesus.  He will rescue you.  Remember that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer, and we should too.  In fact, Jesus advised His disciples to do the same.

  • Escape The Past:  
Take heed to what Paul said,
"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead"  (Philippians 3:13).

Paul is urging us not to hang on to the past.  We must put our past behind and not allow it to drag us down.  Likewise, we must be continually growing and reaching forward to the goal that is set before us, heaven.  

As Christians, we must be hungering and thirsting for righteousness always (Matt. 5:6).  We live by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).  We must esteem God's Word more than our earthly needs (Job 23:12).  When one is pressing forward,
  1. He will devote himself to learning more and more about God's will and ways.  
  2. He will do his best to follow Christ's footsteps.
  3. He will faithfully strive to please God and not himself.  
  4. He will have a strong desire for his goal, heaven.  Nothing will impede him from this goal.  

So let us always look forward to heaven and keep pressing on to reach it and not allow our past to discourage us and rob us of our goal. 

  • Nurture a Patient Spirit Within Yourself with The Emphasis on Yourself!  
As we grow in Christ, we must realize that this is a process that's not going to happen in 1 or 2 days. It is a lifetime commitment of devotion to the Lord.  So don't become discouraged, thinking that you're not growing as fast as you should.  Remember that as long as you’re striving hard to grow, that is all that matters to God.  So try to be patient with yourself and with others as well.  It will leave no room for discouragement and disappointment (1 Thess. 5:14; Ezra 10:13).

  • Take Life One Day at a Time (Matt. 6:34): 
 Often we allow ourselves to be discouraged and disappointed because we are constantly thinking about tomorrow.  The Bible tells us to redeem the time for the days are evil (Eph. 5:16).  It is vital to grasp this to focus on what really matters.  Today we have enough problems to distract us, so let us not drag in tomorrow's problems.

  • Study Your Bible to Find Encouragement (Lam. 3:22; Micah 7:8; 2 Thess. 6:16-17):  
It is healthy food for our souls.  Have Bible studies in your homes, even if there are no visitors.  Go more frequently to gospel meetings to be edified and be with brethren of the same precious faith.  “from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”  (Psalm 62:1).

  • Surround Yourself with Positive and Godly People:  
When Job was undergoing moments of grief and loss, his friends offered prayers and comfort.  They also tried to convince Job that the reason for his suffering was sin.  In their efforts to try to help Job, they ended up pulling him away from God.  Can this be us at times?  The advice of our friends or family may take us further from the Lord.  On the other hand, what really helps and edifies us is the company of positive and godly people when we are low or discouraged (2 Cor. 7:6).  It is such a blessing to have the company of those who love the Lord and are bound to frequently pray and love the Word of God with all their heart.  This is priceless and of great help to the faint-hearted.  It can be a well of strength, comfort, and refreshment to the weary soul.


CONCLUSION:

Discouragement and disappointment are a reality that every Christian must deal with and embrace. With God's help, we can overcome both.  We can choose to mope, groan, and laze around, or we can choose to be positive and seek God for help.

Jesus is our perfect example of conduct and attitudes.  We must imitate Him (1 Cor. 11:1).  While Jesus was here on earth, He also had to face discouragement but did not give up.  He recognized that the key to His circumstances was in Him, not in the obstacles.  And He faced it!  Discouragement is a condition of the mind and not of one’s circumstances.  Happiness does not depend on our circumstances but on us.  Keeping a good spirit is the solution to discouragement.

Jesus saw things from God's viewpoint, and that viewpoint is not discouraging.  He urged His disciples to have the same perspective.  In John 4:35, He told them to "lift up your eyes."  So, no matter what happens in our lives, everything will turn out positively and well if we are faithful in doing God's will.  All things will work out for good to all faithful Christians (Romans 8:28).  Jesus kept working when He found obstacles in every direction.  He always tried to find the solution to all His obstacles.  Nothing was left for Him to do but to die.  He went to the cross willingly and confidently!

We must learn to deal with our emotions (anger, resentment, frustration, bitterness, hopelessness, and depression).  They can cause many unwanted and harmful things.  We must not blame others for our discouragement and disappointment.  We must not allow room for the spirit of blame in our life. We must understand why we are discouraged and ask God to help us.  Discouragement does not depend on others but us (Phil. 4:11).  We must learn to see things from God's viewpoint and in light of eternity.  How will it look in view of heaven or hell on Judgment Day?  Remember that in times of discouragement and disappointment, we must cast all of our anxieties on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Though things may not turn out the way we have planned or would have wanted them to be, look to Jesus, and follow His example.  You may feel so discouraged and disappointed that you want to quit or give up, look to Jesus, and follow His example.  Keep doing your best to reach your goal, heaven, and keep doing God's will with all your might.  So pray and pray and do not faint. Pray like Jesus always did.  When faced with discouragement and disappointments, pray and don't give up!  (1 Thess. 5:17).

Our Lord Jesus will be there in times of discouragement and disappointments to calm us.  Take courage, knowing that our God is with us!  Even amid discouragement and threats, we can still be examples of holiness and righteousness.  So do not despair! Know that our God and our brethren can help us through our difficult times.  Do not let discouragement, disappointment, doubt, and worry, pull you away from God.

 So, when the world says give up, God whispers, try it one more time and don't give up, I am with you.  Why not trust in God and pray to Him?  He can see us through anything.  He is the Rock that will lift us up when we are down.  We can confidently “pant” for Him as a deer pants for the cool refreshing water.  Do not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Gal. 6:9).

Therefore, let us not waste our life living in disappointment each day.  Why not choose to trust God amid life's disappointments, knowing that He is working for the good of those who love Him and that we can use our disappointments for His glory and the good of others?  Why not let God change our hearts by our disappointments, looking forward to our eternal home with Him free from life's disappointments?  God cares and can help us overcome doubt and discouragement.  He will give us the strength to overcome our discouragement and disappointments.  He will command His lovingkindness on us to heal our hearts.

May we rest in the Lord's unfailing love when overtaken by discouragement.  May we turn the eyes of our hearts to our tender and loving Savior who does not break the reed that is already bruised.  And may we be sustained by God's strength to overcome our distresses.

"Hear my cry, O God; Attend unto my prayer.  2 From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  3 For thou hast been a refuge for me, A strong tower from the enemy.  4 I will dwell in thy tabernacle forever:  I will take refuge in the covert of thy wings."
Psalm 61:1-5


Luci

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