This past Sunday I went with my daughter to her church for the first time. When we walked in, I felt comfortable right away. I enjoyed the worship immensely, but it was the sermon that truly had me near tears.
The pastor* spoke about being discouraged, especially if you’re a perfectionist and disappointed because things just haven’t worked out like you expected. I almost jumped out of my seat and yelled, “That’s me!”
The past few weeks have been rough and overall, it’s been a challenging year. Hearing him speak these words right to my heart captured my complete attention. I knew I was struggling, but to hear what from so clearly defined was like a cup of cool water to my parched lips. From that point on I had no doubts God intended me to hear this message.
The pastor shared five wise principles to remember in discouraging times:
1. Remember the righteous rise again.
“For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” — Proverbs 24:16
This spoke to me of the hope God instills in us through his Son. As God’s children, we may get knocked and beaten down, but we don’t give up because we know He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. We cling to the promises of God.
2. Remember friends can help us up.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” — Proverbs 17:17
I believe relationships are key to our spiritual walk, yet so many of us are too busy to cultivate these friendships. God is all about relationship, and He uses our marriages and friendships to teach us more about him. Without brothers and sisters in Christ, we walk a lonely path. This is what Paul meant when he encouraged the followers to keep meeting. We need one another to stay on track. Church isn’t about following a rule, earning our way into God’s good graces, or getting our spiritual fix for the week. It’s about connecting and worship. We need this!
3. Remember the Word of God never fails.
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” — Proverbs 30:5
Without God’s Word, we are literally walking in the dark. So often I hear things in movies that are supposedly from the Bible, but often they’re not. They’re either a complete fallacy or a close variation of the truth. And the enemy does this as well! How can we distinguish the truth from something that’s just slightly off center?
And here is where I recognized something I needed to do more. When I’m discouraged, I need to run to God in prayer and to his Word, even though I may not want to. Anything else will leave my stuck in my discouragement. God is our best refuge.
4. Remember victory is the Lord’s.
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” — Proverbs 21:31
God is the one who brings us through. We can’t be victorious without him. He is the one who will equip us for battle and give us success. Right now I’m clinging to this as well, especially when those prayers aren’t answered as I hoped. I don’t know all the details—I only know what I see. And here is where trusting God is essential. Can we trust Him even when he doesn’t seem to hear us? Can we still believe He is good even when circumstances make no sense whatsoever?
5. Remember where the real power lies.
“If you falter in times of trouble how small is your strength!” — Proverbs 24:10
I loved the picture the pastor painted here. He said if our situation has knocked us down and we stay down, we’re drawing our strength from the wrong place. When we are weak, He is strong. He can pick us up, but we have to call out to him and believe He is there and will help. Again, even as I type this, I’m struggling to believe it. Yet what else can I cling to? If God is not good, then there is no point in hoping. That I can’t accept. A dear woman on the 1Peter3Living loop dubbed me the queen of hope. I refuse to relinquish my title.
James 1: 2 tells us to “consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds.” These principles can help us do that. I’ve committed myself to study this lesson through the week so I can rediscover this joy.
And I’m claiming this promise from Isaiah 41:10:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Lord, I pray you would be with all of us walking in discouragement. Forgive us our unbelief and help us to believe! You, Lord, are good, and You have only our best interests at heart. Help us to remember this even when our circumstances cry out a completely different message. Lord, restore to us the joy of your salvation. Help us back to our feet and be our strength, Father. I beg You, please, reveal your presence to us in some small way as a form of reassurance that you are truly with us. Uphold us with your mighty and righteous right hand so that we may overcome this evil tool of the enemy—discouragement.
In Christ’s Holy and Powerful Name,
Praying and believing,
*Special thanks to Pastor Tim Wood of Evergreen Valley Church, San Jose, CA