Growing Through Discouragement
Here are four suggestions to help you survive and grow through upheavals such as an unexpected job loss, the death of a loved one, a failed marriage or a serious health issue:
(1) Admit how you feel. That doesn’t mean sitting around wallowing in negativity; it means trusting God enough to acknowledge how you really feel. Pretending things are fine when they’re not, makes it harder to get back up. We all have down times. The Psalmist asked God to help him cope with despondency (Psalms 42 and 43). And at one point Paul was under so much pressure he ‘despaired even of life.’ (2 Corinthians 1:8 NKJV)
(2) Identify the source. Discouragement often comes on the heels of a setback or disappointment. Did something you set your heart on fall apart? Were your hopes unrealistic to start with? Did somebody let you down? Or is your dejection coming from a generalised feeling of burnout?
(3) Talk with a trusted counsellor. Solomon said, ‘There is safety in having many advisers.’ (Proverbs 11:14 NLT) Don’t let pride prevent you from opening up to those who will listen empathetically and respond wisely. Talking to the right people can lessen your sense of isolation, and also pave the way for others who are hurting to do the same.
(4) Be open before God. He, not fate or circumstances, gets to write the last chapter. Maybe He’s trying to teach you something or redirect your energies. David said, ‘Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.’ When your hope is in God, He replaces discouragement with confidence so that what you’re going through can become a path to spiritual growth.