Do you ever feel discouraged? We all do at one time or another. Maybe you are feeling discouraged right now.
- Maybe your marriage is not bringing the feelings you expected.
- Maybe being a parent is not what you though it was going to be.
- Maybe your job is not living up to what you wanted.
- Maybe you are feeling disconnected from old friends.
- Maybe you feel disconnected at church.
Whatever it is, discouragement leaves you feeling like an outsider at places that you once were very much the insider. You used to feel like you fit in, but now you’re not so sure you belong anymore.
If I could be transparent with you, this is one of my biggest battles… discouragement.
Sadly, I know a lot about it. In some ways it can feel like an old, familiar friend. Although, friend would be as far from what it really is.
I have come to learn that we live in a fallen world that has not yet been restored to its former glory. Dark feelings can overwhelm us, especially when we are emotionally drained. And when you live at a supersonic pace, like we all do, it is easy to get drained. (This should be a subject of another blog.)
The good news is that we don’t have to just take it — we can fight back.
In Joshua chapter 1, it is the moment when Joshua is taking command of the people of Israel. Just prior to this, their world had changed and they had experienced one of the biggest disappointments in the nation's recent history — Moses had died. There was a lot of uncertainty about whether God was still with them. Was He still leading them?
In verse 5, God tells Joshua this… "I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.” Then, in verses 6-9, He tells Joshua three times, "be strong and courageous!”
Why those words? Well, we get a hint as to why in verse 6 when He says, "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
This spirit of discouragement had already shown up. I am sure the thoughts were, “We’ll never be as great as we were under Moses. How can we win battles without Moses? There goes any guarantee of living in the Promised Land.”
Yet, we know now that God meant what he said, "I will not fail you or abandon you.” They were on the cusp of an unbelievable streak of military wins which would provide for them the homeland that they had been dreaming of.
Now, I know personally that if you are facing discouragement, it is hard to see a prosperous future. After all, nothing looks good right now — and for the foreseeable future.
This is where faith and friends play a huge role.
Faith says, even though it does not look like it — and the spirit of discouragement is defiantly speaking that into your soul — God is with you and He is good. You are deeply valued by Him, and He has a purpose for your life. "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
When you are feeling discouraged you need friends who will fight for you, who will listen when you are down, who will give wisdom, who will direct you to listen to God's Word and not your own negative feelings.
As someone who batted this more often than I would like, if you find yourself in a place of discouragement here are a few things I would recommend:
- Pray in the authority of Jesus to break the spirit of discouragement over your life. (If you don't know how to do that, join one of the men's or ladies' fireside small groups).
- Believe and trust God, even if you don't understand everything.
- Learn to give thanks for the small things.
- Lastly, don’t make any large changes: stay at your job, stay in your marriage, stay at your church, stay in contact with your friends, DON’T PULL AWAY.
I know it can look dim right now, but…
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”