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Discouragement is something that we all face at one time or another.  The dictionary defines discouragement as, “to dishearten”, which means, “to cause to lose hope, enthusiasm, or courage: to cause to lose spirit”. You read that and think, “I can add to that definition”. I know you can. Discouragement is hard to pin down because it is filled with so many diverse and difficult emotions. No wonder the dictionary has a hard time defining it. 

Maybe you are feeling discouraged right now because of the pandemic, all of the divisive politics, or your own personal pain. Whatever the reason, discouragement is a normal emotion that we all feel. You are not a bad person or a lousy believer for sensing the weight of it all. The important thing is not to get stuck in discouragement.

Psalm 42:1–4 (NKJV) “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?” When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.”

Yes, People are discouraged, deeply discouraged. Did the title of this note catch your eye and connect very profoundly with where you are in life, a time of darkness? It’s been a long couple of years. We’ve faced things that we have never encountered before. So many are discouraged about what’s happening with politics, racial injustices, mandates, laws, inflation, and many other challenging issues. Add to those your journey and personal pain, and yes, people are discouraged, including perhaps you.

This has led to much confusion and chaos. Just when you think you are getting your bearings again, criticisms and uncertainties ensure you can’t stand straight or strong. It feels like there is nothing to anchor our lives upon. At the bottom of our hearts are restlessness and a deep sense of discouragement.

I’m reminded of the psalmist as he processed all he faced.

Psalm 42:5–8 (NKJV) “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me— A prayer to the God of my life.”

You’re not alone. Throughout the centuries, followers of God have gone through paralyzing pain and processed intense emotions, just like you. They have endured great hardship and pain, sometimes questioning their salvation or their mighty God. It will help if you notice how the psalmist was honest about his discouragement. He didn’t try to act like everything was okay when it wasn’t. And in his misery, he remembered two essential things that helped him: God’s character and God’s past faithfulness.

When we feel discouraged, we must remember who God is and what He has done. We need to remind ourselves of His goodness, His power, and His past faithfulness. Doing this will help us have hope again and trust that God is still in control even when everything around us seems out of control. Those are great reminders for us as well.

If you are feeling discouraged today, I want to encourage you with these words from Hebrews 12:12–13 (NKJV) “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”

You are not alone. God sees you. He knows your pain. He knows your discouragement, and He wants to help you. Allow Him to encourage you with His love, power, and faithfulness. So reach out to Him today and ask for His strength and hope.

Psalm 42:9–11 (NKJV) “I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”

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