6 Things to do when discouragement threatens

We all face discouragement at one time or another whether in our work, our relationships, or even in our calling. Sometimes, dejection dogs our heels and we can’t seem to shake it especially when our best efforts have not been able to move the needle toward a desired outcome.

What to do? These are a few things I’ve found helpful, but the list is by no means complete. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Some are obvious, but still, we may need to approach them in a different way.

Pray. You’re probably already doing this, but just a reminder that after prayer, we  leave the results to the Lord. Easy to write or say. Hard to do. Desired results are often driven by comparisons. We see others reaching a particular goal, and allow their outcome to drive ours. The Lord may not be taking us to that same place . . . or in the same time. We trust that God has his reasons, which are sometimes oblique to us, at least in the present.

Listen. We give ourselves time to hear from the Lord through prayer and His word. He could be using circumstances to redirect us, but we are insisting on staying the course we may have predetermined. We allow the Lord to tweak our course and adjust our expectations. I often hear writers say their journey has not turned out like he or she thought it would, but it has been wonderful, anyway.

Zoom out. Instead of doubling down and really focusing on a situation, do the opposite. Zoom out and get the big picture. In the grand scheme, is this important, or have we become too focused on just one thing? Are we giving God the space to work in His time or have we created a situation where we are expecting God to work in our time?

Share with a trusted friend. Don’t suffer alone. Find a trusted friend with whom you can share your struggle and receive the affirmation from someone who cares.

If it’s possible, do something different for a while. Take time to reset, to get a fresh vision, and relax. Often, we’ll come back to the table with a renewed sense of hope of what God wants to do.

Put your mind on the truth. At our low points, we’ll often find the enemy attacks with negative thoughts. But God has told us how to combat this: “. . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” That verse is followed with the benefit of putting that verse into action: “And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8,10). That’s the most wonderful thing, that God is with us, no matter what.

So, there you go. Try these out and see what the Lord will do. My prayer for you is included in a  benediction that Paul wrote to the Hebrews, “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).