March 8, 2023 | Carrie Henry
When was the last time discouragement found you? It found me recently in the middle of an otherwise uncluttered Monday morning.
As I woke up, I felt its weight. Irritability, an ugly indicator of discouragement, sat heavily upon me as I pulled myself out of the bed. As I do each day, I opened the curtains and blinds to let the morning light in. Dark gray rain clouds. Of course.
I whispered an honest, needy prayer, acknowledging God’s goodness and power and my gratitude for the gift of the day, but I didn’t yet invite him to search me and speak truth to my heavy heart. Instead, I made my way through the house, opening blinds and being filled with more overcast views of the outdoors.
Once I was in the kitchen, I found my favorite yellow cup, filled it with the first coffee of the morning, and sank into a chair at the table with my Bible. Now to let God deal with me…
I opened to Psalm 77, a lament of Asaph:
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me…
Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?
Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
(Psalm 77:1, 7-10)
Asaph is in a bad way. He doubts God’s goodness. This is what discouragement can do. It ushers in darkness and doubt, makes us feel powerless.
Related to fear, discouragement is, by definition, a loss of courage or hope. It spotlights weakness and frailty, and we all face it at some point. Life involves struggles. We are battered by our own brokenness and that of others. Circumstances are hard and demanding, and the exhaustion of it all eventually catches up to us.
On the morning that discouragement found me, I was tired. As is often the case, hard things happen concurrently. The weeks prior had been filled with activities, some desired and some not. My husband and I had CT scans which led to doctor appointments, a diagnosis and medical procedure for my husband, and subsequent lifestyle changes for which we are grateful. It had, however, been a chaotic place. It was a lot to process. There were many moving pieces.
Perhaps you, like me, have responded passively to discouragement. Lingering in it, wallowing in self-pity are ways we fail to fight. Discouragement saps our energy and leaves us feeling defeated. It is costly, and when we choose not to face it, the cost can extend to those around us.
But God helps us own our insufficiency. God is for us. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:2-3)
I have learned to confess my weakness in times of discouragement, that I might find God’s help in my time of need. I am learning to do it quickly.
The way to get help for discouragement is clarified in Psalm 77:11-12, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”
Remember…ponder…meditate. When I am worn-out, exhausted in strength, when my patience and tolerance are spent, when I am weary of waiting, I am most susceptible to forgetfulness.
Run to the Word of God and remember his praiseworthy deeds and the wondrous works He has done in your life and in the lives of others!
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph.
When the waters saw you, O God;
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
When discouragement finds you, confess it, and let God help you…let faith in God’s promises find you.
- Remember “going over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders”.
- Ponder “all the things God has accomplished”
- Meditate on “a long, loving look at God’s acts.”
(Psalm 77:11-12, MSG)
Photo: Found (Psalm 23), Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago