How to Face Discouragement

There are times in life when we feel discouraged, hopeless, and unable to reach our potential in life. Sometimes we feel powerless to change our situations. We fall into depression as we think about unfulfilled dreams. We might be able to envision a better future for ourselves, but we are unable to realize these dreams due to obstacles in our lives that we believe we cannot overcome.

During these times, we may begin to feel that we would be better off simply to forget about future possibilities for ourselves. After all, it is less painful to live a life of underachievement than it is to think about the things that we would like to accomplish without hope that we will ever be able to achieve them.

Discouragement about our circumstances can become overwhelming. We begin to feel stuck in a rut of mediocrity. Our self-esteem erodes when we see others thriving with successful families, satisfying careers, and abundance in their physical possessions. At these times, we ask ourselves, “What is wrong with me?”

One day, while facing a period of discouragement in my life, I was meditating during my morning prayer time. I began to visualize one of my earliest childhood memories. I saw myself as a small child, perhaps three or four years old, playing in the “kiddie park” where my mother would take me in the mornings after dropping my older brothers and sisters at school. I remember the bright light of the springtime sun. A merry-go-round shaped like a beetle. Rocking horses of blue, red, white, and black perched on the top of large metal springs. Other children, just like me, were running from one amusement to the next, exploring each contraption with clumsy, developing bodies.

As the Holy Spirit led me through this memory, I saw myself standing on a balance beam, raised just a few inches above the ground. The beam was constructed from a metal bar that was a little wider than my toddler-sized feet, and it curved back and forth throughout the eight feet of its length. In my meditation, I did not only see the vision of this memory, but more importantly, I remembered how I felt as I walked from one end of the balance beam to the other. I had accomplished a feat! It was one of the earliest conscious memories of a specific victory in my life.

Exploring this memory, both visually and emotionally, the Lord asked me to consider what was missing from this memory, and immediately I saw what He had intended to reveal. When He brought me this vision, He was showing me that at this young and tender age, I had not yet developed any knowledge of discouragement. Playing on the playground at age four, I wasn’t thinking about the things that I couldn’t do. Instead, I was focusing on the things that I believed I could do, and this makes all the difference in the world.

As children, we are not hindered by thoughts of what we cannot accomplish. Instead, God designed our minds and bodies to grow in strength and confidence in our ability to learn, solve problems, overcome challenges, and experience new things.

Jesus told his followers that anyone who wants to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven must become like a small child. One important reason for this is that children do not meditate upon what they believe is impossible. On the contrary, in the mind of a child, all things are possible. As children, our lives are filled with victory, and every day is an opportunity to overcome new challenges.

Just think of it. A child of two years old can become fluent in a new language in a few short years, but how long do you think it would take for you to begin speaking conversational Chinese? Children begin their mobile lives by scooting on their bellies and quickly advance to riding bicycles, skateboards, and roller skates. In the mind of a child, nothing is impossible. So why do adults so often fail to achieve their goals? Why aren’t we motivated by the same desire to achieve as we see in our children? The answer can be given in one word: discouragement.

We are born into a world of child-like optimism, but as we age, we begin to experience discouragement. Your memories of the playground at the age of 10 are very likely to be vastly different from what they had been when you were five. As we grow older, the hopeful optimism of our earliest years is attacked by a barrage of competition, insults, and discouragement. One of the most common phrases spoken during third-grade recess must be these: “I bet you can’t do this!”

The older we get, the more frequently we hear messages about what we can’t do, about things that are impossible for us to achieve. These messages may come from our peers, our siblings, our teachers, our coworkers, our supervisors, and even our parents. As we become surrounded by communities of nay-sayers, reminding us constantly of our inability to accomplish new and exciting things, we begin to agree with them. The end result of this process is that our growth is stunted. As we lose faith in what is possible, our world of opportunities transforms into a prison of impossibilities.

Paul writes, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” We have the strength to do anything we set our minds to achieve when we are filled with the power of Jesus. When we place our trust in Jesus, the Spirit of God fills us with encouragement. The Spirit does not speak of what is impossible for us. Instead, it speaks of the limitless potential that we have when we place our faith in God’s power at work within us.

Discouragement is a trick of the Devil. Don’t listen to the words of those who tell you what you cannot do. If God has given you a vision of something that you can achieve, go for it! God wants you to be encouraged–not discouraged. But to do this, you must submit yourself to the instructions of Jesus. He tells us not to worry. He tells us to become like children. He says to have faith like a mustard seed. He instructs us to believe what he tells us.

And Jesus tells us this: “With man, it is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.”

[If you are seeking encouragement in your lifeĀ click here to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor].

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