Getting discouraged is something we all face in life over and over again. It can come from not getting the job we wanted, being rejected by someone, unanswered prayers or unmet expectations. It’s a mind game really. Our thoughts after a disappointment determine how we feel and how we feel determines how we behave. The more we behave in a disappointed manor, the more our thoughts takes us down the hole towards depression. Those thoughts lead to worse feelings which translate into worse behavior. It’s a downward spiral that’s hard to get out of. I’ve been caught in it before and here’s how I found my way out.
The first thing is to recognize the negative thoughts when they come in and to stop them. II Corinthians 10:5 tell us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. The Message says, “Fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the life shaped by Christ.” We can’t let destructive thinking roam free in our minds. We have to capture those thoughts, emotions and impulses that affect how we feel and bring them into captivity. To overcome discouragement, we have to quit dwelling on those thoughts and replace them with the promises of God.
The next thing we need to do is refocus our attention on God. David felt very discouraged after having been anointed king of Israel because instead of taking the throne, he was hiding in caves being pursued by the man he was replacing. He spent a lot of lonely nights wondering where God was and why He wasn’t fulfilling His promise. David called out to his inner man and challenged himself. In Psalm 43:5 he said, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again!” You choose where to put your hope. If it’s in yourself or someone else, you’ll be disappointed. If it’s in God, you will not be.
Finally, surround yourself with people who will lift your spirits and stay away from those who will take you further down the hole. In II Corinthians 7, Paul was being persecuted and was feeling discouraged. He was going down the depression hole when God sent him Titus. In verse 7 he wrote, “But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.” To me, nothing helps pull me out of the darkness of discouragement that fellow believers bearing light. We are meant to help each other by bearing each other’s burdens. If you can’t find someone in your circle who can bring that light, pray that the God who encourages the discouraged would send someone your way to encourage you.