Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, a baptist church in Jessup, MD. B.A. in Bible, B.S. English Ed., M.S. in Educational Leadership.
Gang nach Emmaus
Can Christians feel discouraged?
Christians are not immune to feeling discouraged. When our expectations aren't met, when our dreams shatter, when our desires fall to the ground, when you need a hint of hope and instead you get hit on your face with mud, when you finally make it to the top of the hill, only to find that before you lies what appears to be an endless wasteland, it is only natural to feel discouraged.
Finding Encouragement through Prayer
But what should you do when you feel discouraged? The very first thing you should do when you feel discouraged is turn to God in prayer. Tell God how you feel, cry if you must, and come to him as often as you feel you cannot get back up on your feet. Remember what the Bible says, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Philippians 4:6, KJV).
Pay very close attention to what you are being told to do: (1) do not worry, (2) pray, (3) request (or, supplicate), (4) give thanks. What does this mean?
You shouldn't worry because God cares for you--you can say the same thing about feeling discouraged: you shouldn't feel discouraged because God cares about you. He knows what happened, He knows the outcome is not what you wanted, He knows you messed up, and He knows your needs.
Now, look at the rest of the verse. Pray--take time to worship God the same way Job worshipped God after he lost everything (Job 1:21). Request--ask God for what you need. Give thanks--you're still alive, aren't you? Thank God for the fact that you're still alive, thank Him because He cares for you, and thank Him because even when things aren't going your way, He still cares for you.
Finding Someone to Listen
Of course, there are a couple of other things you can do and should do. First, tell another human, one who will care and know how to respond, how you feel--like an empathetic pastor, a counselor, or a mature Christian. Listen, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, your spouse, and your best friend may not be the right people to tell at this time. The reason is they may not know how to respond the right way to your emotional needs. This is a time when you're very vulnerable, so you need someone who can listen with empathy and who can encourage you.
When Life Doesn't Give You Lemons
Also--and what I am about to say may surprise you--give up (at least, temporarily) whatever it is that you wanted. Yes, you heard that right. The reason you are discouraged is that you had great expectations that weren't met. So, just for now, be realistic: take whatever is good in your life and run with that for now before you try to reach out again for whatever it is that you were dreaming about. So, you didn't get that promotion? Well, just focus on doing your job the right way. So, he didn't fall in love with you? Well, there's plenty of fish in the water. So, no one laughed at your jokes? Well, maybe you just need to tweak your routine.
Finally, focus on pursuing God's will for your life. Here's something you should consider seriously: most likely, you don't know what God is thinking--there's something in the Bible about God's thoughts being higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). From God's perspective, your wants, desires, and expectations shouldn't be the main theme in your life--the main theme in your life should be his will, which happens to be good, pleasing to God, and perfect (Romans 12:2). So then, one more thing you should add to your prayers is asking God to lead you to do his will.
Feeling discouraged is never easy, especially when, not only are you not receiving what you desire, but you are also losing what you hold dear. You should not blame yourself for feeling discouraged, but instead you should accept and acknowledge your feelings, and then make use of your faith to find encouragement. Remember that you are not alone: not only have many other saints also felt discouraged, but God is with you.
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© 2020 Marcelo Carcach