Discouragement comes in many different forms. From unmet expectations, to broken hearts, to feeling lonely in a crowded room, discouragement always seems to rear it's ugly head more often than not.
If you're facing discouragement today, you're not alone. Even the most Spirit-filled Christians have battled, lost, and given into this dreaded season of life.
What should you and I do when we're discouraged and how can we help ourselves and others who are in the finding themselves in the same place?
Here are a few key points on how I've learned to turn discouragement into encouragement:
There is no benefit in lying to yourself. Before you can receive help, you must first acknowledge the fact that you need help. Don't let your emotions rule you.
Take time to evaluate your thoughts and pinpoint the areas of discouragement. Drop your hypocritical "I'm doing just fine" masks, come to the end of yourself, and be open to receiving help from the Lord.
Read the Word
Diving into God's Word will remind you of God's promises. Discouragement's friends are shortsightedness, and want. Quality time in God's Word will reprove, correct, and instruct your thoughts and heart and challenge you to redirect your hope back to the Lord and His faithfulness.
Pray for others
Praying for others will prohibit you from the self-focus that leads to depression. Use what you're going through, feeling and experiencing to benefit others who are or will potentially be in the same place as you. If you're sad, pray for those who are sad. If you're emotionally wounded, pray for those who are emotionally wounded.
What the enemy intends for evil, you can turn it for good. Allowing your depression as a platform for prayer for others will encourage your soul. God always blesses those who are willing and eager to pray.
Don't allow your discouragement to hinder you from serving God. Many of the Bible's greatest servant-leaders experienced deep discouragement. A study of Paul's life will remind you that in his discouragement, he continued to seek and serve the Lord.
If you let your discouragement paralyze you from serving God, you will slowly but surely spiral deeper and deeper into the darkness of your hurt. Being faithful to what God has called you to do will lift your countenance. There is deep joy and satisfaction in being about God's business.
Pray for yourself
After praying for others and continuing to seek and serve the Lord, pray for yourself. God cares about your heart. He cares about the smallest details of your life. As a deeply loved, and redeemed child of God, you have the opportunity to trade your anxieties and discouragement for God's peace. (See Philippians chapter 4, verses 6-7).
Pastor Peter encourages us to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us. (See 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 7). The burdens of discouragement aren't meant to be carried by you. As you give them to the Lord, you'll find true peace and freedom.
Ask for prayer
To help solidify your resolve to turn your discouragements into encouragement for yourself ask for prayer! Let the body of Christ fulfill it's calling in building you up.
God's grace is able to overflow into your life as your humble yourself and confide in believers who are able to surround you with loving prayer. Don't make yourself into an island. Yes, Christ is sufficient for all of your needs, but He has also designed the church as an instrument of encouragement and hope.
I can guarantee you that you will face some level of discouragement this year. Knowing the above five points will not be sufficient in helping you. YOU must actively be a part of turning your discouragement into encouragement.
Keep on keeping on, friends!
Aaron Sabio serves in Murrieta, CA and is a pastor at Cross Culture Ministries and is also the director of On The Edge.
Aaron Sabio's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aaron-sabio.html