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Fighting Discouragement
by Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT
Every person faces discouragement in their lives—even the child of God. Paul makes this evident in various places and offers solutions to the problem. He underscores the discouragement in the lives of the Corinthian brethren in his letter labeled Second Corinthians. He says, in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” The Corinthian brethren had been greatly mistreated but they had not been “in despair,” “forsaken,” nor “destroyed.” Since all people face discouragement, how can we be equipped, through God’s word, to overcome the disappointments we face in life?

The tribulations we face are short in duration as one considers the nature of eternity. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” We must always remember that the bad in this life pales in comparison to the blessings that await God’s faithful.

To fight discouragement, we must make sure that we keep our real goal in mind. This is exactly what Jesus did as He faced the reality of His crucifixion. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Instead of continually focusing on the object of His torment, Jesus focused on the “joy” that awaited Him as He completed the plan of redemption. We need to remember that we are merely here for a short time, and Heaven is our ultimate dwelling place.

To fight discouragement, we must encourage ourselves in the Lord. King David had to encourage himself when the people were devastated by losing their families at Ziklag. The text says in 1 Samuel 30:6 says, “Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” In the midst of losing his own family, David’s followers wanted to blame him for the calamities that befell them. His grief and worry were compounded in this setting, but he did not lose sight of his need for God. It becomes evident from his life that David’s trust and confidence were in God. Christians would do well to have the same mindset today.

To fight discouragement, we need to focus on the good things and not the negative. There are plenty of things in life that are bad and create feelings of depression. To alleviate the feelings of depression, one must change their focus. When we re-direct our thoughts, it can help with the discouragement we face in life. Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Parallel to this concept, we need to count our blessings. When we consider all that God has done for us, it becomes evident that we have very little to be discouraged about in our walk of life. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 says, “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving

through us to God.” God provides us with more than we could possible have need of as His children.

To fight discouragement, we need to develop and maintain a regular prayer life. Paul encouraged the Philippian brethren to turn their anxieties over to God. He said in Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.” It helps to know that we do not bear our burdens alone. God hears and knows what our needs are. Sharing our prayer requests with our brethren also helps as we struggle with trials and tribulations.

To fight discouragement, we need to remember that we have a High Priest, Jesus Christ, who is interceding so that we might come boldly before the throne of Grace. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. As our High Priest, the Son of Man understands what it is like to deal with problems in human terms. God is not aloof from what we struggle with in our daily routines of life.

God has sought to encourage His people in their darkest moments. We can have His assurances when life makes no sense. We can have His love when others have forsaken us. God provides the remedy for the problems we face in life if we are His Children.