“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
— Galatians 6:2
For those of us who have ever found ourselves in a place of discouragement, it’s a good thing to remind ourselves exactly where to find encouragement when we need it.
What’s tough but important to do throughout life is to remember to thank God when we encounter a particular season of discouragement. Why? Because these challenging times can cause us to finally slow down, pay better attention to God, and ultimately seek Him through His Word and in prayer.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
— James 1:2-4
Each of us are well advised to spend more time in reading God’s Word, especially when we are down. This single thing will undoubtedly serve to lift us up. I’m not suggesting reading one small item of scripture quickly and moving on. Instead, there’s an ongoing need for us to read God’s word in a daily manner. For me, the best way to read God’s Word is an approach I learned in childhood and found useful throughout medical school and residency training. Initially, I read silently to myself, then read that same passage aloud, and finally I try to say the meaning of that same passage of scripture to those around me. It’s life changing to read God’s Word on a regular basis, and ultimately it provides the encouragement needed in life to redirect its course where needed, and to keep it on course.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing”.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:11
When things pile up and we find ourselves in a state of discouragement, it’s too easy to first seek pleasurable things as we attempt to fix our circumstances using our own strength and fortitude. While ice cream, shopping, golf, gaming, social media, taking a run outdoors, or a whole host of other things may help us feel better temporarily, training ourselves to by pick up our Bibles to find the encouragement we seek and praying over our situation will bring life-giving encouragement. God’s Word remains a wonderful elevator of our mood since it is full of hope and encouragement. No doubt there are aspects of the Bible that may not be what we want to hear (particularly since we struggle with our own sinful nature), but the scripture is there to encourage our lives in the right direction. Thereafter it’s great to go on a hike, bicycle, yoga or whatever helps us further contemplate the current conundrum amidst us.
The other important aspect of seeking God through His Word during difficult seasons, is the idea that He’s there for us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter what (always on call), just WAITING for us to call out to Him in prayer. There’s nothing on earth He wants more than to be in relationship with us, through both ‘thick’ and ‘thin’.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”
— Isaiah 40:31
If you’re not just discouraged but feeling dejected and down, turn to Deuteronomy 31:8, which says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
One of the other hallmarks of discouragement is that it can lead to ongoing lack of sleep, and overall weariness. Fatigue issues just make things worse overall during times of discouragement. For this scenario, turn to Matthew 11:28, which says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.
If possible, another great idea that can help offset a season of discouragement, is to intentionally go find another brother or sister in Christ who’s a good friend and listener. The idea isn’t to ‘unload’ onto them, but instead seek out God alongside one another, and pray together about mutual areas of discouragement in His name, and to support and listen to one other. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”.
At the end of the day, we each seek that unmistakable peace, calm, and hope for tomorrow. John 14:27 says it well: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.
Finally, it seems good to remind ourselves that the evil one wants nothing more than for us to stay in a constant state of discouragement. Satan does NOT want us to read Gods’ Word or to pray to God in His Name, or to seek counsel with other believers. He’s the king of chaos and will often create that just so we don’t seek God in prayer and in scripture. Knowing this is the case, it’s always smart to intentionally ask God to provide clarity, focus, and discernment each time we seek to read and understand His Word. Expect that our eyes will be open to His truth as we study and say aloud, His Word, and it will be so.
To offset those times of discouragement, intentionally seek out God’s word and go spend intentional time in prayer with God the Father and you will find encouragement. Look around and start asking those around you how you can specifically pray for them. These steps will undoubtedly uplift and uphold each of you.