I Get Discouraged

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I get discouraged. Discouraged at my unanswered prayers. Discouraged at my slowness of growth. Discouraged at my tendency to fail.

I used to think that after some mature moment in my Christian walk, this wouldn’t happen anymore. However, I’ve realized that as long as we live in this world, but not of it, God’s children can struggle with discouragement.

A cloud of great Christians from the past testify to this fact:

Billy Graham: “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’”

St. Augustine: “God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies gray and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage.”

Even the Apostle Paul: “There is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak with my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?” (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)

In one of my favorite books, nineteenth-century author Hannah Whitall Smith tells the following allegory:

Satan called together a council of his servants to consult how they might make a good man sin. One evil spirit started up and said, “I will make him sin.” “How will you do it?” asked Satan. “I will set before him the pleasures of sin,” was the reply; “I will tell him of its delights, and the rich rewards it brings.” “Ah,” said Satan, “that will not do; he has tried it and knows better than that.” Then another imp started up and said, “I will make him sin.” “What will you do?” asked Satan. “I will tell him of the pains and sorrows of virtue. I will show him that virtue has no delights and brings no rewards.” “Ah, no!” exclaimed Satan, “that will not do at all, for he has tried it and knows that, `Wisdoms ways ARE ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” “Well,” said another imp, starting up, “I will undertake to make him sin.” “And what will you do?” asked Satan again. “I will discourage his soul,” was the short reply. “Ah, that will do! “cried Satan; “that will do! We shall conquer him now.”

The pressure to be discouraged is a reality. So what how do we escape from the discouragement that seems inevitable?

Any Scripture emboldening our languishing hearts with encouragement all stress the same source of strength: the Lord is with us ( See Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:9; 2 Chronicles 20:15; Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4-5-6).

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I tend to say. “I know, I know. The Lord is near. Got it. Now, what can I do here to get me out of the doldrums?”

But what if His nearness is enough? Or better yet, what if I believed it?

Doubt and discouragement are blood relatives birthed from the Father of all lies. Questioning His Presence is the antithesis of trusting the unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). On the other hand, believing His Word whether I feel like He is near or not, stimulates faith that pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6). Hallelujah.

Next time you are discouraged, try this simple recitation, giving different emphasis to each word with every declaration.

  • The LORD is near — It is the God of the universe, my Creator, my Father, my Lover Who is adjacent to me even now. He has dominion over all heaven and all earth, possessing all greatness, all power, all glory, all victory, and all majesty. Riches and honor come from Him, and He can make great and strengthen everyone (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
  • The Lord IS near — It’s not that He was near in the past or will be in the future. He is close to me right now, in this very moment of breath.
  • The Lord is NEAR — He isn’t just out there somewhere, glancing over every once in a while, hoping I don’t mess up, but He is near, in my mouth and my heart (Romans 10:8). His very Kingdom is so near that He is seeking to fill up every available space within me that I will allow (Luke 17:21). His nearness is my good (Psalm 73:28).

“I will set my mind against anxiety Lord because You are near (Philippians 4:5-6). Reveal Your proximity, O Lord. Let me see how near You truly are.”