From Discouragement to Determination
Ever been “down in the dumps”? Sometimes it is hard to admit this may be true in this growth-mindset, positive thinking environment. Through social media we are inundated with the high points of everyone’s life, which quite frankly, is a good thing. It might be quite overwhelming to always read about other’s ongoing struggles!
However, you don’t have to live long to realize that there are times when no matter how hard you try, you just feel down. It happens to me anyway. I’m not talking clinical depression. I am certainly not trained to speak to that issue. I’m simply referring to those times when you KNOW you shouldn’t feel in the dumps, but you do. Circumstances outside our control can often be the cause.
· Maybe a colleague said something insensitive, and you are having trouble shaking it.
· Maybe you have been required to attend another meeting, and you don’t really have the time. Your plate is already so full and you don’t know how you are going to get everything done.
· Maybe your leader is inconsistent and unclear in his/her direction, and it is just wreaking havoc in your school.
· Maybe a parent is refusing to step up and be involved with a very needy child, and you are at a loss of what to do next.
· Maybe the board of education has changed, and there is no longer support for the initiative you have invested in for several years.
I could go on and on with the scenarios. Each of these scenarios—and countless others like them—can make us feel discouraged or “down in the dumps”. Personally, I think it is okay to allow ourselves to feel disappointed and discouraged at times. There are several examples of this in the Bible.
· Moses struggled as he led his people through the wilderness.
· Esther felt helpless as her people were doomed to destruction.
· Martha became distraught at the loss of her brother, Lazarus.
· Paul was in despair as he wrote to the Corinthians about his afflictions in Asia.
It is worth mentioning that none of these individuals did anything to cause their desperate situations. Based on what I have read, all were serving God faithfully. However, even though they all experienced discouragement, they did not allow discouragement to define them. What did define them was their determination. This can be true for us as well. We can learn from their examples and turn our discouragements into determination.
What did they do? How did they handle seemingly insurmountable circumstances?
· Moses obeyed God and led the people to the promised land.
· Esther prayed, fasted, and trusted God to save her people from the threat of extinction.
· Martha believed in and claimed the power of the Savior.
· Paul let go of self-reliance and resolved to trust God.
While every situation was a bit different, there was one constant. Each person was determined to trust God’s provision and obey His Word. You know what? In each situation GOD WAS FAITHFUL. What an encouragement it is to know that the God of Moses, Esther, Martha, and Paul is the same God today! (Hebrews 13:8)
The next time you feel down in the dumps, consider taking some advice from those who have gone before us.
1. Acknowledge your situation. Sometimes it is hard to admit we are discouraged. This is the first step to victory. Call it what it is and remember even the most noteworthy individuals in Scripture experienced discouragement.
2. Verbalize your feelings. God listens. He hears and understands. “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” I John 5:14
3. Seek out Godly council. Who can you vent to? We all need that someone. Find someone who is a good listener. Talk with someone who will be honest. Seek out someone who will provide sound spiritual advice. Moses talked to Aaron. Esther talked to Mordecai. Martha talked to Mary. Paul talked to Barnabas.
4. Search for comfort and guidance in God’s Word. If you don’t know where to look, open a Bible application and type in a phrase like, “Verses about…” I guarantee you will find Scripture to direct and guide your thinking.
5. Pray. Every situation is better bathed in prayer. Personal time with God opens the door for His Holy Spirit to speak into the depths of our souls and direct us toward obedience.
6. Take a step back and count your blessings. Remembering all God has done for us and all we have to be thankful for helps us put things back in perspective. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Don’t let your discouragements define you. Make a purposeful decision to turn your discouragements into determination. God is faithful!