In each of our lives, there will be discouraging circumstances. We get sick, or we encounter financial difficulties. Appliances break, plans go awry, kids go off the rails, and relationships struggle. As a result, we feel discouraged. This must have been the case for Joseph.
In case you don’t remember, Joseph was his dad’s favorite. His brothers resented him for that coveted position and Joseph wasn’t always wise in the ways he shared his dreams and visions of his brothers bowing down to him. As a result, his brothers sold him into slavery. Then he got thrown into jail for something he didn’t do. He helped the cup bearer who then forgot about him. He must have sat in the prison cell completely discouraged. Yet, finally, things turned around. He was let out of prison and ended up saving his entire family from the famine ravishing the land. In the end, Joseph forgave his brothers and asks this amazing question: “Am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19). That question is a great starting point to ask when we feel discouraged.
Often when discouragement sets in, it is because our expectations have not been met in some area of life. In those moments it’s great to ask yourself, “Am I in the place of God?” One of the ways Satan most often attacks us is through discouragement. Now, to clarify, it’s fine to feel discouraged, as long as you don’t get stuck there.
Madame Guyon, who was a French Christian living in the 1600s, wrote, “I implore you to not give in to despair. It is a dangerous temptation, because our Adversary has refined it to the point that it is quite subtle. Hopelessness constricts and withers the heart, rendering it unable to sense God’s blessings and grace. It causes you to exaggerate the adversities of life and makes your burden seem too heavy for you to bear. Yet God’s plans for you, and his ways of bringing about His plans, are infinitely wise.”
How do we move beyond discouragement when the feelings come?
We declare that we are not God, but that He is always good! His ways are infinitely wise and His plans for us are always good. The power of our words is huge. When we declare out loud with our mouths that God’s ways are best, our minds and feelings follow. We begin to remember that God has not abandoned us and He has not left His throne. He will bring beauty even from the ashes of our lives (Isaiah 61:3).
We remind ourselves that discouraging circumstances only last for a season. Pain and sorrow only last for a season and then, thankfully, a new season breaks forth with joy. Some seasons may be long and the pain might feel unbearable. However, there is always hope. Whether in this life or the next, the season of joy will come (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
We lean into our community. I have learned that when I am walking through seasons of discouragement, I need to lean into my community. I reach out to prayer peeps and ask for prayer. I ask for help or tangible support. I have learned that in my spiritual journey, I must be vulnerable. I cannot walk this journey alone. As I reach out for prayer and support, God surrounds me through the people that love me. The same holds true for you (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Lord Jesus, remind me when life feels discouraging, that You are still on the throne and You have not forgotten me. Help me to remember that discouragement only lasts for a season and then joy bursts forth. Holy Spirit, give me the courage to be vulnerable so that others can pray for me and offer tangible support when I walk through discouragement. Thank You that You hear my prayer.
Coming this Spring is Tethered Trust, the second book in the Girlfriend Gathering Series. Now available for pre-order on Amazon!
This week on The Connected Mom Podcast we’re talking with bestselling author Janet McHenry about her new book, Praying Personalities. If you’ve ever felt guilty about your prayer life, this is your episode.
Sources: As quoted in LB. Cowman, Streams in the Desert, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 217