It’s a heavy weight that bears upon your soul and mind. It whispers defeat and urges you to give up. What once was an exciting pursuit of a dream or goal that inspired you, is now a big question mark. It causes you to look around at what others are doing and compare yourself to them.
Will your hard work ever pay off? Why does it come so easy for them? Will you ever be noticed? Do you really make a difference? Is it worth it? Do I matter? Will God ever answer my prayer?
When these feelings come, what should you do to free yourself?
I remember the discouragement I felt every month for 6 years as my husband and I tried to conceive. I went through 14 failed artificial inseminations. Although I felt discouraged, my hope for a baby never wavered.
Hannah knew the pain of discouragement as well. She lived a modern-day reality show as she watched the man she loved have children with his other wife Peninnah while she remained barren. Every year, her husband Elkanah went with them to worship at the tabernacle and every year, Peninnah would “provoke her in order to irritate her.” She bullied her until she wept. I’m sure Peninnah was jealous because the Bible says that Hannah was the one Elkanah loved.
What did Hannah do with her discouragement? She prayed. She pleaded through bitter tears. She promised God that if he gave her a son she would give him to the Lord for all the days of his life. And when she was done pouring her heart out to God she felt better. Do you know what she did? The Bible says she “went her way and ate something and her face was no longer downcast.” Her burden was lifted and she was able to resume normal activity.
Hannah’s prayer was answered. The Bible says the Lord “remembered’ Hannah. She had a son named Samuel whose name meant “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
But what if your prayer isn’t answered? I remember thinking, if I could only find that spiritual formula that would get God’s attention–maybe if I prayed harder, longer, like Hannah, then just maybe God would answer my prayer, too.
But what I love about this passage is that Hannah found peace before her prayer was answered! A discouraged heart can find peace in the middle of the pain. And that is encouraging!
When we are discouraged we need to fight through our emotions in prayer and tell God our honest feelings. He can take it.
Evaluate Your Goal and the Right Way to Achieve It
First, evaluate what you are trying to achieve. Pray for discernment for God to show you what path to take. As much as I wanted a baby, there was a point where I knew the fertility treatments were not working. It was hard to stop since I longed to be a mom and stopping felt like I was giving up.
But it was the right step. I needed to get off of the emotional roller coaster. I never gave up my hope and desire to have a child and we still tried, but without outside treatment. I believe that God opened my womb just like he did for Hannah… and praise God, I now have 4 children!
If you are lost and unsure exactly how to pursue your goal, then pray for God to direct you. God will lead you.
And I will lead the blind
in a way they do not know
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them. I will turn the darkness
before them into light
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do and I do not forsake them.
Remember your Mission
Have you thought about making a mission statement for your goal? What do you want to accomplish? Maybe it’s for your career, education, small group, marriage, parenting…? Mission statements help us determine if our goals are being met and help us gauge success. Success is not measured in numbers, recognition or money but in following your mission.
My mission for this blog is to bring hope and encouragement to struggling marriages, overwhelmed moms, and people striving to know their worth. If I get discouraged about how many viewers I have then I have lost focus of my mission. When I remember my mission, I can feel successful because I know I am making a difference. The time, money and effort of maintaining a blog is worth it to me because it fulfills my purpose and mission in life.
If you are discouraged in your ministry then allow God to give you rest.
Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
And let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.
Remember God is With You
Do not be afraid
Do not be discouraged
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Fear not for I am with you
be not dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When you are weary, don’t take action until you pray, evaluate and remember your mission. And then come before the Lord as you lay aside your burden and rest.
Download this free printable to help you when you are discouraged. Print the verses on white card stock and cut out.
What discouragement are you trying to break free from today? I would love for you to share in the comment section below so that I can pray for you!