By: Gary L. Hutchens
A previous article looked at the reality of discouragement and why people become discouraged. Numerous factors can contribute to discouragement: illness, physical problems, financial difficulties, relational problems, even the weather… People can also become discouraged due to failure to accomplish or achieve some goal. But, as noted, those are simply contributing factors, vehicles on which discouragement hitches a ride.
A loss of focus is a fundamental reason why many people become discouraged. They become so focused on some particular problem or disappointment that they lose sight of all of the positives in their life. The problem thus becomes, from their perspective, overwhelming. Right now we really need to learn how to overcome discouragement.
The most serious loss of focus that results in discouragement is when a person loses focus on God. Forgetting about God, neglecting to include Him in our daily lives, failing to ask for His guidance, care and blessings in our everyday decisions and actions naturally opens the door to discouragement. James portrays the person who makes life’s plans without thought of God as being thoughtless, careless, arrogant, foolish (Jas. 4:13-17).
Truly, God is the most effective answer to discouragement! Leaving God out of one’s life leaves the door open for the devil to move in. Satan is clever and skillful; he can maneuver effectively through a person’s life along the avenue of discouragement. Make no mistake, the devil is adept at using discouragement to lead us away from God and bring us down spiritually. Nothing is impossible for God (Lk. 1:37), but if we don’t look to God for deliverance we can find ourselves hopelessly discouraged.
Psalm 42 portrays a man caught up in discouragement. He longs for God’s presence, for a close relationship with God (vs. 1-2, 6-8), to be able to worship God with the assembly (vs. 4). Yet, his sorrow is deep. He is continually oppressed and taunted by enemies and detractors asking, “Where is your God?” (vs. 3, 9-10). It appears that he is probably either a prisoner of war or an Israelite who was carried off into captivity by a foreign enemy. He voices discouragement and despair.
Fortunately, that was not the end of the story. In the end he realized that his hope lay in his faith in God. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God;” (vs. 5, 11). Whatever the reason for discouragement in which we might find ourselves, the answer lies in turning to God for help and deliverance. The apostle Paul stated that he had experience both good times and bad times. He knew how to live within either scenario. The answer was, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phlp. 4:11-13). With God in proper focus in our life, we can indeed “Rejoice in the Lord always…” (Phlp. 4:4).
Discouragement is a reality of life in this world. The devil often uses it as a tool to break us down. Living in a right relationship with God- consistently- is the most effective answer to discouragement and to overcoming the devil generally (Jas. 4:7-8). If you walk with God faithfully, then “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4)…
Gary L. Hutchens