As much as we all try our best to keep a positive and hopeful mindset in life, unfortunately, at some point, we will have to battle discouragement. Discouragement can come in like a whirling storm, or it can come slowly as a trickle without stopping; regardless of its approach, it can pull us under. Albeit discouragement is present at times, it never has the final word. You can overcome a dampened spirit!
1. Remember Storms Don’t Last Forever
Thunder rumbles and the clouds begin to darken as the wind picks up; a storm is afoot. Storms are synonymous with disheartening times. They are unpredictable, and there is the threat of destruction and uncertainty of just how long it will last. We have all experienced storms in our own lives, and many of us do not come out the other side unscathed. Nature knows this all too well as often trees are stripped of branches and leaves, and animals find their nests have been torn apart after storms. Despite all of this, we must hold firmly that just as storms do not last forever in nature, they don’t last forever in our lives. It may take a week or an entire season, but it is not the final word, and it is not without the hope of redemption, healing, or growth. Storms often leave the landscape harmed, but the landscape never stays there. New leaves emerge, the water from the storm provides what is needed for plants and trees to grow, and nature adapts to become stronger in defense against things that will come later. In the same way, we can know that storms produce perseverance in us. Romans 5:3-5 reminds us, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Your storm isn’t the end of the story, and your storm has the potential to help you grow as a person in perseverance and strength. Hold firm to that hope and know the storm is never the final say.
2. Remember Past Victories
Fighting discouragement also requires remembering the victories of the past. In the Bible, when winds of dismay would come, someone almost always recalled the victories the people of Israel had seen in the past from the Lord. David did this often through the Psalms and in first and second Samuel, standing firm that what he had seen God do in the past would be seen again. 1 Samuel 17:34 shares, “But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it, and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
David knew that the same God who gave him victory against lions and bears would give him victory against Goliath. In the same way, when we face circumstances that seek to rob us of our strength, we can draw upon the truths of the victories we have seen before. Ask the Lord to bring to mind a place where you saw Him help you through a hard time, and believe you will see all things work together for good and His glory again.
3. Speak Truth Over Fear
The truth will set you free, and it will set you free indeed. Discouragement comes from the root of agreement with fear, and in order to break that chain of agreement, we must stand firmly in truth. John 16:13 encourages, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
It is easy to fall into the trap of self-reliance when God desires to give you His Holy Spirit to guide you in truth and peace for whatever you face. Even when the challenges we face are sticky and complicated, we can rely on the truths only God can offer. List the things you know to be true about your God, your circumstances, and yourself. When we stand in fear, we are standing on shifting sand, but when we stand in truth, we only then are standing on solid rock that is not destroyed when winds of discouragement come. The story is not over until that which He promised is seen.
4. Don’t Fight Alone
Lastly, stop striving to fight against discouragement alone. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” In truth, discouragement and dark thoughts are not necessarily founded in your mind or even in what it looks like in the present; rather, they come from Satan. This is why it is so important to capture every thought and submit to the Lord as it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” God does not want you to walk this earth alone, nor does He desire you to fight these battles on your own. If you seek to fight them on your own, you will be swept under by the forces of Satan, but when you invite the Holy Spirit to fight your battles, especially the battles of the mind, you will see victory. Stop fighting alone, Child, and see where God will bring you peace, harmony, and hope.
Discouragement will come, but it does not have the final say or word in your life. Only you can choose to believe the lies of Satan, the hopelessness of intrusive thoughts, or the view of a circumstance that could change at any given moment. You can choose to come into agreement with fear, or you can come into agreement that God works all things together for good and His glory. You can come into agreement that there is hope even if it does not look like it now, and you can come into agreement that there is a greater plan at work that is far bigger than this present moment. Know that God has good plans for you, which will often stretch far beyond your comfort zone, imagination, or what you think is possible. Cling to Divine leading, not to discouragement.
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