Before I became a pastor, I was a professional bass player. (I play both electric and upright). And when I was still learning to play my upright bass my fingers would crack and bleed to the point that my instructor wanted me to take a break from playing…Well, obviously that wasn’t an option (because I’m stubborn), so I did what any self-respecting musician would do, and I super-glued my fingers shut so I could keep playing.
I didn’t want something as insignificant as bleeding fingers to sideline me from doing what I loved to do!!
That’s sort of a silly example for how it doesn’t necessarily take something huge to sideline us from the work we want to get after…When we’re trying our best to follow Jesus, discouragement is Satan’s single greatest way he can take us off the path God wants us to be on.
I think it’s important to recognize discouragement isn’t only circumstantial. By that I mean discouragement isn’t necessarily a direct result of what’s going on around us – it can be! But ultimately, we are the only ones who can address our own discouragement.
Today I want to give you five keys to dealing with discouragement. And just for you guys I made sure they all start with “R.”
So! Without further ado…
1. Remain in the Word.
When we regularly spend time reading God’s Word in the Bible, it totally reframe the way we look at all our circumstances. Why? Because when you read the Bible and realize you’re following the God of the All-Possible, all your seemingly impossible problems become a lot more hopeful.
In the midst of a discouraging world, we need to remember we live in a “but God” reality.
Often in times of discouragement we feel like we want to leave the Word of God, but it’s actually exactly what we need to hang onto hope.
2. Return to what you know.
Sometimes the “why?” questions in life cause us to grow discouraged. When we don’t have answers or closure for a situation, it’s hard to let go of.
Now, no matter what happens, God is good…but he never promised to explain himself to us. So the solution to our discouragement is not getting answers.
That’s why when we don’t understand what’s going on, we have to return to what we do understand. What we do know is God is good and true and loving, and he has good plans for us…we have to cling to that.
3. Reverse the curse.
Satan wants nothing more than for our discouragement to drive us back to our way of living before we started following Jesus, so it’s important we don’t let our circumstances drive us back to behavior we left behind.
Discouragement always seeks to drive us from God…but we should never let our discouragement or failure keep us from Jesus. It should actually drive us into the arms of Jesus.
When John the Baptist was imprisoned for his faithfulness, he was discouraged. But his discouragement led him deeper with the Lord. He never tried to deal with it alone, in isolation, but he went directly to Jesus with his questions and his suffering.
So in discouragement, we want to “reverse the curse” and keep walking faithfully with Jesus.
4. Remember the Resurrection.
Our Bibles, from cover to cover, tell us about resurrection, life from death. Of course, everything culminates in the Resurrection, when Jesus conquered sin and death forever. But all throughout Scripture we see God bringing to life things that seemed dead – whether that’s people or hopes and dreams.
And in our lives if we’re discouraged or don’t understand what’s going on, it may be because something just “died.” Something just changed that we didn’t want. But God brings life from death. He is a resurrecting God! So if something has died in our lives, that means God is doing something else.
In the face of discouragement, we need to remember our resurrections and watch for what God is going to do. The story he’s writing doesn’t end in our points of deepest discouragement.
5. Rejoice in hope.
Years ago, one of the custodians at our church (a man named John) lost his wife at the same time a number of catastrophic things happened in his life. I remember so vividly the conversations we had during that season of his life.
One day, I asked him how he was doing, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes. He said, “Daniel, I’ve been better. This has been incredibly hard. But I know God, and I choose hope.”
I was blown away by his faith. And we have to choose hope too, friends.
One day we will understand in fullness…Until then, hope is believing God takes every negative situation and turns it into a positive experience by making us more like Jesus.
God isn’t throwing us into terrible situations and leaving us! In every area of our lives, we’re being invited to walk with God through stuff…because God is preparing his bride for the wedding day, the day he comes again in glory and we know him fully at last.
In the meantime, let’s choose to rejoice in hope.