Discouragement is a subtle beast.
It doesn’t jump out of the closet with a bang. It doesn’t strike like lightning. In fact, when the weight of hopelessness pulls on you, it’s easy to wonder, “How did I get here?” One thing I’ve learned: While discouragement can sneak in the backdoor, we usually invite it in the front and ask it to dinner.While discouragement can sneak in the backdoor, we usually invite it in the front and ask it to dinner. Click To Tweet
Like I said, it’s very subtle. Even familiar and friendly looking. You may not even realize what you’ve done. But no matter, its mission is still the same: to leave you with a loss of confidence and enthusiasm, ready to throw in the towel and quit.
Jesus never once taught us to accept or embrace discouragement.
Amazingly, with so many earthly trials, He never once fell victim to despair, but used such occasions to speak truth and release glory and honor to His Father. In the same way, the Holy Spirit tells us in James to rejoice when we encounter trials and temptations. To actually feel joy. That may seem ridiculous, even impossible. But I’d like to share what I’ve learned as the Holy Spirit has worked these scriptures through my own life.
First, let’s look at how you can invite despair into your home.
1. What you watch.
In most modern cultures, we are visually bombarded every waking moment. Businesses have learned if they catch your eye, there’s a good chance they’ll also get your attention, your money, and more.
- Social media.
Everywhere you look, someone is trying to influence your thinking and choices. While most of us acknowledge this war for our attention, few are intentional in winning it. Remember: “The eye is the lamp of the body…” (Matthew 6:22-23 NASB) What goes in changes what comes out. In other words, you become what you focus on.You become what you focus on. Click To Tweet
2. Who you listen to.
The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” has long been shown as false. Words can cause deep damage, often without you realizing it at the time. Experience has proven Solomon’s words many times over: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21 NASB) For good or for bad, words shape the way you see yourself and process life around you.
Common daily influences are:
- friends / peers
- news media
- the spiritual realm
Take a minute and answer these questions:
- Who do you hang out with?
- What music do you listen to?
- What words fill your head?
- Who influences the thoughts you think and decisions you make?
3. What you choose to believe.
The Apostle Paul understood that our actions reflect our beliefs, and beliefs are directly influenced by what we focus on. If you focus on the mistake, the failure, the pain, the obstacle, you will never overcome it. You only empower it. If, however, you focus on a higher, Kingdom truth; on victory; on an end goal and the lesson learned — here you will find strength and joy. Here you will find Jesus.
Some of my favorite words Jesus spoke while on earth were to Martha right before He raised Lazarus from the dead. While Martha focused on the pain and loss that surrounded her, Jesus admonished her to lift her belief to match God’s wisdom, power, and goodness*: “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God. Click To Tweet
Paul’s words to the early Church hold just as much importance to us today as they did 2000 years ago:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NASB
What are you believing today?
4. How you walk out your day.
Too often we put what we’ve learned on the back burner or a high shelf and forget it. We agree, it’s good information, but forget to put it into practice. It can become habitual to choose the easiest path, to avoid hard issues, to go with the flow, to listen to negativity. But when you suddenly find yourself discouraged, a look back will show a gradual downhill slide. Discouragement is built, block by block, by your thoughts and choices.Discouragement is built, block by block, by your thoughts and choices. Click To Tweet
So now, how do you get unstuck?
1. Be intentional.
Make a choice. Make a plan. Set boundaries.
2. Recognize open doors.
Survey your life. Be honest. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal blind spots.
3. Choose to let go of self.
Change what you watch, listen to, think, and believe if they don’t line up with the truth of who Jesus is and who He says you are.
4. Feed on truth.
Get into the Bible. Surround yourself with people who speak truth. Write out words of truth and speak them over yourself and your circumstance.
5. Lean into life.
Lastly, choose to lean into every moment of life as a gift from God. In the ups and downs, treasures abound for those who are looking. Look. Listen. Embrace. Laugh. Cry. Believe. Go forward.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NASB
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