Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:58


Monday, September 3, 2012

Dealing with Discouragement by Rebecca Aarup

Dealing with Discouragement

Have you ever been discouraged? For some of us we find ourselves so saturated in helping and serving others that our own encouragement tank needs refueling. But who is there to encourage us when our tank is empty?

Discouragement usually comes in two forms: circumstantial discouragement and spiritual discouragement.

Circumstantial Discouragement

Circumstantial discouragements are a direct result of outside sources. The tires on the car are flat; work is slow and paychecks are dwindling; the marriage is strained; illness has struck a loved one. When something happens which we have no control over and we begin to worry, sorting through the “what-ifs” and trying to find a way to take control of the situation, our worry mixes with a feeling of gloom resulting in discouragement.  

Before things get ugly, we need to turn to hope—we need to choose hope. We can’t wait for someone to swoop in and pay our bills, fix our marriage, or cure our illnesses, we need to take action. Can you imagine what Paul’s life would have looked like if he let his circumstances get the better of him? We’d probably be missing half of the New Testament! But it didn’t happen that way.

We are commanded to take captive every thought and submit it to Christ’s authority. (2 Cor. 10:5) In other words, when the “woest me’s” and “what-if’s” start tap dancing in between our ears, we need to say, “I refuse to entertain such thoughts; I will be anxious about nothing but will be thankful for everything, even this situation, because God is in control.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

Spiritual Discouragement

We may find ourselves downcast for no particular reason. Things are going good, all our needs are met, yet we feel something unsettling deep down. This type of discouragement is very dangerous and often leads to depression. It gets even worse if we sit back and wait for someone to make us feel better. Maybe we want that recognition, acknowledgement, friendship, or fellowship yet it continues to elude us. We think, “If only they cared”. But the truth is we should never count on people or circumstances to lift our countenance.

God has scattered numerous examples in the Bible of people being used to encourage others and I believe we are all called to be a “Barnabus” to someone. But the simple fact is many Christians fail to fulfill this calling, for whatever reason. If we sit around and wait for that outside encouragement, we may find ourselves in a deep pit of despair that seems impossible to climb out of.

Our first response to this discouragement needs to be God’s Word. Specifically we need to focus on passages of Scripture that praise God and focus on His attributes.

I recently found myself battling discouragement. After about thirty minutes of moping around, the Holy Spirit shook me out of my self-pity. I sat at my desk, opened my Bible to Habakkuk 3, and began to read out loud. (I’m a huge supporter of reading God’s Word out loud. Verbal reinforcement is necessary for all of us, especially concerning God’s Word. Jesus didn’t use mental assent to battle Satan when He was tempted, he used real audible words—words from the Scriptures.)

If you’re spending all your time encouraging others (good for you!) but feel a little empty when it comes to your own encouragement tank, spend time in God’s Word audibly proclaiming the truth. I guarantee it will make a difference. Turn to God’s word first instead of last. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend Habakkuk 3.

And for those who don’t feel like they can relate to anything here, maybe you can take the time to encourage someone in your life today. Maybe theirtank is low, and you can be used by God to lift their countenance and bring glory to Him. Point your weary friends to Jesus. Show them how to find encouragement through His words therefore fulfilling your calling to be a Barnabus. (See Acts 15:36-41 to learn about Barnabus’ work of encouragement in the life of John Mark.)

Whether you’re the discouraged one, or the one encouraging others, stay in the Word and be ready at all times to be used by God in the life of a fellow believer. Maybe you can join me in reading the following verses out loud in adoration of our Heavenly Father:  

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

Rebecca Aarup
Staff Writer with The Christian Online Magazine 
AdvoCare Distributor

"Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty...I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full.'" John 6:35, 10:10 (NIV)

*I was truly TRULY touched by Rebecca's message. I hope you all are as well. I think it hits us all. A lot of times I get down because I expect others to lift me up, but that's not how I'm supposed to be. Thanks so much, Rebecca!!! Rebecca will be blogging here every first Monday. Please, show her some love and visit her great websites :)! Kelly


  1. Great post, Rebecca! I am an encourager, but many times I have sat in the mullygrubs lamenting the fact that there was no one to encourage the encourager. You've helped me to see that depending on others for encouragement is not what we're supposed to do. Our hope and dependence should be placed in God alone, for everything we need...even encouragement. I'm tatooing this on my brain for later reference!

  2. Thanks, Jan. I wrote this out of my own experience as the "Un-encouraged Encourager" and assumned I wasn't the only one out there. God has definitely been using these experiences to teach me how to be 100% dependent on HIM.

  3. Great post Rebecca!! What a wonderful reminder for me during this season of "wait" I have been in..Of course it seems like forever and a day I have been in neutral :)
    Thank you for sharing!! I will be placing this post in my "favorite" file to reference back to on days I too have the "mullygrubs" as Jan put it!! :))


  4. Hi Rebecca,
    This is a great reminder for all of us. We cannot always be "Martha" running around and serving. Sometimes we have to be "Mary" sitting & listening at the feet of Jesus. Your approach to go to the word is only one of many ways we can be built up, and this IS walking in the Spirit that you are writing about. Alternatives include, prayer, singing hymns & choruses, and so on.
    God bless you and thanks for this article.

    1. John, the reason I specifically chose to only mention praise through the Bible is because things like singing hymns/choruses are generally rooted in the Bible. The majority of "Christian" songs are inspired, or even based entirely on Scriptures. Also, reading the word out loud IS indeed a prayer of praise offered up to God.
      Thanks so much for your feedback and for visitng Encourage 365!