In our previous blog, we tackled the issue of discouragement. We looked at some of the things that can cause us to be discouraged – it was noted that fear can lead to discouragement because it drains the life out of us and can paralyze us (Pro. 29:25).
Circumstances, usually things beyond our control, can lead to discouragement. Exhaustion is another factor. We wear down physically, mentally, and spiritually, and can become discouraged and overwhelmed.
We also discussed steps to take in dealing with this issue, something that most people battle with at one time or another in their lives, and we looked at the life of Elijah.
The first thing we noted was that we must not condemn others or ourselves when discouragement hits. We see that God does not condemn Elijah as the prophet wrestles with this dark time in his life. God will correct the prophet, as we shall see, but He does not judge him.
We noted that we must not condemn ourselves as Elijah did (1 Kings 19:4), nor feel sorry for ourselves, or pass blame on others.
We must guard against calling someone “spiritually weak” if they are battling discouragement. There are lessons to be learned as we go through these times, but we must guard against categorically questioning someone’s love for God because they are fighting through some things.
The second thing we mentioned to do when it comes to discouragement is this – get rest and recharge ourselves. The one thing we see in 1 Kings 19:5 is that Elijah was exhausted.
Discouragement hits at times when we are the most vulnerable physically and spiritually. We have a hard time focusing on the facts of a situation, and instead we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed. It must be said that when we are recharging, make sure that we are in the Word of God, praying, being around those who encourage us, and be open about our need to recharge.
As we continue, let’s look at a few other things to do when discouragement hits. A third thing to do when we are discouraged is one we all are aware of – get close to God. That may sound cliché but it is important.
After Elijah recharges and gets refreshed, he goes on a journey. During that time, no doubt God was teaching him things along the way. God wants us, as he did with the prophet, to draw closer to Him. When we are down, we need to open the Bible (we can make the choice to do this), pray, talk to others, and as we shall see, do something.
Getting close to God is not always done in some dramatic fashion or through some super miracles. Sometimes it is just talking to God, reading and meditating on the Word, and listening to Him as He speaks through His Word and the Holy Spirit to us (see 1 Kings 19:9-14).
A fourth thing to do when we are discouraged is – get the right perspective. Elijah shares with God his plight about how he alone is serving God (1 Kings 19:14-18). Discouragement can get our perspective, the facts as they are, to be skewed. When we are struggling, if we are not careful, we bury the facts – facts about Who God is, facts about our faith, etc. This is a danger we need to be aware of.
It is true that Elijah had served God. He had done things. But he was not the only one doing so. As we draw close to God in those difficult and discouraging times, we need to look at situations realistically. God has something better for us in our lives than staying discouraged. He wants to teach us in those times as James 1 reminds us. Remember this – God has not abandoned us in those times of darkness. He is reaching out to us. He is here with us.
As mentioned, Elijah was not alone. God had 7,000 others who had not followed false worship. Elijah needed to reframe his thinking. We need to do the same. Examine the situation that has made us discouraged. What triggered it? If we can discover what led to the tough time, we can then begin working on a plan to deal with it as we move forward.
Make a list of things that seem to lead us into discouragement, and then spend time studying the Bible and learning what Scripture teaches directly, or in principle, that we can take and apply to our lives. Decide to make a plan to help us as we move forward.
Our fifth and final help for dealing with discouragement is this – get up and serve, do what God wants us to do. Jay Adams, who has written books on Biblical counseling, when trying to help someone deal with discouragement, gives them projects to do. He has them focus on helping others, getting outside of themselves and their situations.
In 1 Kings 19:15-18, Elijah is given a job to do. Help others, serve, do whatever God is leading us to do. We must decide to do this. This is something worth noting. Instead of Elijah just sitting around and being focused on his discouragement, God tells him to get up and get active. Reach out to others.
In closing, I want to encourage each one who has read this to recognize that we are not alone in this struggle against discouragement.We can, though, win the battle with discouragement.Keep focused on God and take the steps necessary to help move past those dark times in our life.Remember also that God loves us more than we can even imagine and wants us to enjoy that relationship we have with Him.