Encouragement is. . .
Being refreshed by others!
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25)
In my last post–I talked about discouragement. Today I want to discuss some ways we can dispel discouragement–and how we can live lives that reflect peace, joy and fruitfulness.
For those who missed my last post–you can read “Even Great Men Face Discouragement” in my archives to get the basics. But if you don’t want to take that much time–in summary, I wrote:
How does discouragement get a hold on our life? It starts with something small initially, and once in, it spreads. I called this progression, (for it is a series of things–not just one) Satan’s Dirty “D’s.” I illustrated how Satan uses his favorite tool–discouragement to get our focus off God and on ourselves–and others.
Discouragement often begins with a disappointment, small or large–it doesn’t seem to matter–because ‘disappointment’ progresses very quickly into ‘disillusionment’, then into ‘depression’ and ‘despair.’ Finally–if we haven’t licked it by then–it can end up causing us the final blow of ‘defeat.’
The big question is, “How does one overcome discouragement?”
Pouring over this topic, I ran across some good sources on the internet–as well as from my favorite book–the Bible! There is some great advice for the regular run-of-the-mill discouragement–and even more for the one facing ‘spiritual discouragement.‘
Rev. Charles Stanley wrote a short article on this latter subject. He says that in order to overcome spiritual discouragement, changing our mental focus is imperative.
“. . .Focusing on the Lord is essential in breaking the chains of discouragement. When you turn to God, it is also helpful to pray three things aloud. First, thank Him for being with you while you feel disheartened. Second, admit He is in control of your life. And third, acknowledge that He is good and will ultimately work the circumstances for your benefit.”
During a recent time of discouragement, I remember how the enemy’s use of his favorite tool on me, sent me into a downhill spiral that encompassed each of the Dirty ‘D’s. I even faced one other ‘D’, not mentioned in his package earlier– and that is denial. You see, I was so ‘spiritually minded’ that I couldn’t even acknowledge that he had me in his discouragement grip! When I woke up to this reality–it was plain to see. The sad thing is–I woke up one morning realizing that I was already in the middle of depression–and didn’t even realize that I was blinded by denial. How I was going to get out of this mess?
Stanley continues, “Discouragement can result from different scenarios, but Satan is the instigator. He will do anything he can to dishearten us and keep our focus on negative things instead of on God.”*
That is just what he did to me!
Discouragement often starts with a frustration, a failure, criticism or even something as simple as physical fatigue. It can happen to us, or we can be so aware of disappointing someone else that discouragement threatens to overtake us because we have failed another.
Mine started with a disloyal friend and colleague. I was deeply disappointed by this person, and yes, disillusioned and hurt. Satan, of course, used a series of incidents to push me into disillusionment with, not only that one person, but also others in God’s service. I became cynical and critical myself and others. Finally, I began to doubt my own usefulness in God’s work–a sad state to be in–all I could think of was quitting.
When the Dirty “D’s are active in our life–many times we lose confidence in other areas of our life too. This disillusionment and depression–led me to doubt my abilities–particularly in the areas that I was, at one time, quite confident: my writing and my giftedness as a teacher. The enemy of my soul breathed lies that I was not good enough–and self-pity and self-criticism became my personal head noise–drowning out all other reason.
Satan, used his dangerous and effective tool, discouragement, to drag me down–just as he has countless others. But God also has a few effective tools in his arsenal, to equip the believer to fight back! I realize now that I don’t have to live in misery, discouragement, depression, or defeat. I do not have to live in the lies he has sown in my thoughts.
I have the Word of God–and so do you! There in lies promise after promise of God’s love and care for me. Those who believe in Him, have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, insight and power. We have the wonderful tool of encouragement–that incentive initiated by God to bless and lift up the brokenhearted; those who are downcast and close to defeat. And we have Encouragers waiting to infuse us with courage and joy–passing on God’s love and hope for us!
If a major cause of discouragement is a loss of perspective, then let’s restore proper perspective! (Rehearse ‘who we are in Christ!‘) If we have lost our focus–then ‘refocus’ on the things that matter! Stop–Focus on God and His character! Listen to that friend–the one ‘who loves at all times’ and “. . .the friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 17:17a; 18:24b)
Encouragement Refreshes Through Loyal Friendships
Walter Winchell once said, “A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.” The Apostle Paul suffered great disappointment and discouragement when some of his friends abandoned him when his public life got too dangerous. But Onesiphorus, a Godly friend, walked into Paul’s life at a time when he had great need of encouragement and help. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say that, “he often refreshed me.” (2 Timothy 1:16–18)
In the Friendship Factor, author, Alan McGinnis makes the comment that, “loyalty is an essential ingredient” in friendships that last. He goes on to say that the beauty of lifelong relationship is not to be underestimated. Those who have rich, quality friendships seem to be ones who believe in “life-long” relationships; who stay connected through the years, through thick and thin, and weather the dry and the stormy spells.
Be refreshed by spending time with positive, loving people!
Be refreshed by spending time with positive, loving people–those who can see the best in you! (I need lots of people like that in my life–don’t you?) Go to them, and ask them to help you restore your perspective in this thing that has discouraged you.
My good friends did this for me. They helped me to see that I was not only valued by them, but by many others too–and above all–by God, Himself.
It is my prayer that each and every person reading this post will find themselves being refreshed by a trustworthy friend--someone in whom they can confide, and who is willing to walk along side them until they emerge from the Valley of Discouragement. I pray that they will see many brighter tomorrows.
Thank you for taking time to read this post today. If you were blessed, share it, ‘like’ it on Facebook, or email it to a friend. If you would like to read more–click “Follow” and you will be notified each time I post another article. Take a moment and send me a comment–I’d like to know what you liked most about this post. That would encourage me!
If you would like to learn more about the Apostle Paul and his struggle with discouragement, you can download a free bible study here: simply click on (or copy & paste) the following link: http://www.lindakbridges.com/free-printables/ into your browser. Encouragement-Chapter 5 contains the Bible content contained in today’s post.
All God’s best,
*For the full article–see Charles Stanley at (http://www.christianpost.com/news/spiritual-discouragement-113489/)