Defeating Discouragement

I have had enough, Lord. Have you ever thought or said these words? I know I have! So has my friend, Joyce. Her husband died suddenly from a heart attack a few months ago, and last week her best friend died of cancer. Maybe your situation is less extreme. Perhaps you felt discouraged when all three of your children came down with a stomach virus the night your parents came to visit, or when you doled out $1,500 for emergency surgery for your son's iguana the same week the mortgage was due. The truth is discouragement comes to us all. In fact, some of our greatest Biblical heroes experienced discouragement: Moses, Elijah, Jonah, David, and Jeremiah, to name a few. The Bible even says that Jesus was a "man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3, NASB). What lessons can we learn from their lives and God's Word about defeating discouragement?

Lessons from Elijah

Do you recall Elijah's story? An Old Testament prophet, he called down fire from heaven and destroyed 450 prophets of Baal. However, after hearing what Elijah had done and learning that he had killed the prophets, Jezebel, the wicked queen, threatened Elijah's life. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted, Elijah spent his last ounce of energy running for his life! When he came to a broom tree, he sat beneath it and prayed that he might die. "‘I have had enough, Lord,'" he said (1 Kings 19:4). Sound familiar?

Notice when discouragement struck: immediately after a time of great spiritual victory. It also came when Elijah felt physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. Exhaustion is fertile ground for discouragement to take root.

How did God respond to Elijah in his exhausted state? What lessons can we learn from Elijah and apply to our lives?

Cure for Discouragement 

Replenish yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When faced with overwhelming circumstances and emotions, it helps to temporarily step away from the situation for the purpose of replenishment. Jesus daily faced throngs of people demanding His time and attention; yet, He often went away to a quiet place to commune with the Father. He rose from those times of communion strengthened and encouraged, able to face life's trials and temptations. 

Trust in Him and pour out your feelings honestly to God in prayer. Pour your heart out to God in prayer. He can handle your feelings of frustration, self-pity, anger, and depression. God's Word says, "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge" (Psalm 62:8).

Seek God's truth and perspective. When we are teetering on the brink of discouragement, it is easy to lose perspective. Spend time in God's Word and let it serve as a mirror, reflecting His truth into your life and circumstances. Memorize Scripture and hide it in your heart.

Listen for God's still, small voice. God not only reveals himself in powerful, dramatic ways, but He also reveals himself through the mundane and ordinary--a child's smile, a phone call from a friend, a neighbor who offers to lend a helping hand. God desires to speak into your situation. Listen for His voice.

Look for those God has called to walk with you through discouragement. God gave Elijah the gift of Elisha, a friend to share life's journey with him. Who has God called to walk alongside you? God's Word reminds us, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

Faced with fear and discouragement, Elijah called out to God. God responded, providing heavenly food, visiting him with His presence, and giving him a friend. God responded to Elijah's need with love, mercy, and compassion. Know that He will do the same for you.

By: Mary J. Yerkes