Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Defeating Discouragement

When God starts revealing small details about your life, do you ever find yourself planning out what you think He is doing long term? I sometimes start to fantasize about all of the possible details. I begin to sow the seeds of this elaborate plan authored by me. However, when things don't happen on my timeline or as I imagined there is this feeling of disappointment and discouragement that creeps into my heart.

God’s ways are nothing like our ways. {Isaiah 55:8}. And although He knows what is best for us, it still doesn’t change the fact that our heart can grow sad from a plan that doesn't seem to go our way. Can anyone relate? He is shutting doors in my life and traditionally I would try and knock down the door or break through the window. But I’m growing, now I sit at the closed door and pout for a bit; baby-steps.

In my heart, I wonder, “God did I hear You wrong? What sign did I miss? I know I’m not going crazy, but am I?” The other morning I woke up and the first thing I said to God wasn’t good morning or I love You. It wasn’t thank You for this day…but “God, I’m just pouting right now, I will come around.” We are so blessed that He is patient and merciful.

As I sat in my bed that morning "pouting," I realized that God is teaching me something; hold on to His promises. If I trust that He is a good Father and that He wants good things for me, then I should believe that all opportunities that did not go as planned are for my good. I have faith in Him and not my current surroundings. But what do I do with the disappointment? Even if it was caused by me leaping 20 steps ahead of God, I still have to deal with the disappointment so that I am not discouraged. Let’s take a journey to Psalms 42

"Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in GodI will praise Him again. My Savior and My God. Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember You."
Oh, Psalmist- you know so much about what I’m feeling right now!

 Hope in God

"Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping-believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” {Romans 4:18}
I love how Paul explained the idea of putting hope in God and not the circumstance. It isn’t that Abraham ignored the fact that both he and Sarah were old and that Sarah could not have children. He realized that. But He also knew that God was able to do what He said He would do. God gave Abraham a promise, and because of that Abraham had faith that God would complete what He started, making his faith grow stronger. There are promises throughout the Bible for God's children. It isn’t that I have to ignore what is currently happening in my life, but my focus should always be on doing what God places in front of me daily; living out His Word and keeping focus on Jesus!

Praise Him 

When my heart is sad and I’m just not in the mood to read the Bible- I know I know- you guys always wake up wanting to read the Word. But when I feel disappointment and discouragement, I just want to scroll through Pinterest and find the latest recipe or do something else that requires no thought. So instead of doing that, I’m learning to Praise God in spite of my feelings. This is the best time to turn on worship music and get low to the ground and worship Him with song and with an open heart. At that moment I can vent to Him and tell Him about the disappointments. I try to do this honestly because He already knows our thoughts anyway. It’s during these moments that His presence is so real. He truly meets me when I let go of what I think I can control and surrender it to Him in Praise and worship. He hears our cry and His eyes are always on us! God inhabits our praise {Psalm 22:3} so use this as a time to draw near to Him.

Remember Him

This is one of my favorite things to do! Some of the best stories are found in the old testament: the parting of the Red Sea, daily manna, and the walls of Jericho. Let’s not forget when you venture into the new testament with Jesus healing the sick, making the blind see, the deaf hear,  calming the storms, and bringing the dead to life! Paul reminds us in Romans 4:17 that Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. I could imagine that anytime a seed of doubt tried to enter Abraham’s heart, he would replace it with memories of the God he knew that is able to do more than what we could possibly hope or ask for. He remembered that God’s Word never returns void {Isaiah 55:11} and since God created the world from nothing, He can surely provide the promises He established. Abraham relied on God’s record of never failing him to give him confident hope that God would do it again!

I would encourage you to not only remember the stories from the Bible but to make a list of things that God has done in your life and the life of others around you.  Remind yourself that God is good; He always has been and He always will be. He is the same God today and yesterday. He never changes {Hebrews 13:8} He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever imagine {Ephesians 3:20, NKJV}

I would love to hear what you do when you feel discouraged. Take a few minutes and share in the comments.

Here is an awesome song by Elevation Worship, Do it Again. It's a great worship song and helps with the concept of remembering what God had done! If He did it before, He will DO IT AGAIN!

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