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Sunday, May 14, 2017 pm

 

DEALING WITH DISCOURAGEMENT 

I wish I could say that life is easy.  But we know better.  We all face problems.  As time goes on we have to deal with failures, fleshly weaknesses (both physical and spiritual), rejection, things that break (usually at the worst time), becoming overwhelmed, and people that are flawed and don’t behave properly.

-           Sometimes we deal with family troubles and disappointments. 

-          Sometimes we deal with brethren who are not acting properly – both in attitude and action.

-          Sometimes as we are trying to teach others we can become discouraged – we deal with dull minds and closed minds, we face antagonistic responses, we face indifference, etc.

-          Sometimes, no matter how hard we are trying to do what is right, we fail morally and spiritually.

-          We look at our broken society and what seems to be a hopeless downward spiral of immorality, ungodliness and bad behavior.  

These are just a few examples that show us how bleak life can become.  I am convinced that most, if not all, of us become frustrated and discouraged from time to time.

But how do we deal with discouragement?  For a few moments tonight I would like to address this subject.  (It is my plan for this to be the first in an ongoing series of lessons dealing with some of the troubles and issues that affect our minds and burden our souls).

 I.                     Discouragement is not wrong

a.       Elijah became discouraged – he wanted to die.  1 Kings 19:3-4.  Even after a most powerful spiritual victory against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), he is driven into the wilderness because Jezebel wants his life.  There he requests to die.

b.       David faced discouragement – throughout his life – while serving king Saul he was betrayed and forced to flee.  As king, he was betrayed by his own family (though some of it he brought on himself) and friends.  Many of the psalms reflect David’s disappointment in many as he turns to God for strength and help. 

c.        Paul dealt with many things that could cause him to be discouraged – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 – hard pressed on every side, perplexed (but not in despair), etc.; 1:8-9 – burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 

d.       Jesus faced discouragement – John 6:67-71 - will you also go away?
The dreadful events that led up to His crucifixion – betrayal by Judas, denial by Peter, the lies that brought Him before Pilate, the hateful mocking, etc.  In the garden, He pleads with the Father, “Let this cup pass from me…”  But then He submitted to Him – Hebrews 5:7-9, 1 Peter 2:21-23, etc.
Hebrews 4:15 – tells us that He was tempted in all points as we are. 

e.       We see in these examples that becoming discouraged is not wrong within itself, rather it is HOW you deal with discouragement. 

 II.                   How do we deal with discouragement?

a.       Face it!  Don’t deny your frustrations or struggles.  Anytime change is to be made, it begins with acknowledgement.    There are many who when they face discouragement give up and quit.  They say, “What’s the use!”  Some may deny that they are struggling with whatever it is.  For others it can lead to depression.  Rarely does denial work out – in fact it usually hurts you AND those around you (who have to deal with you).

b.       Endure it – As Christians, if we are to grow we need perseverance (patience, endurance) – 2 Peter 1:6
Hebrews 10:32, the writer challenges these brethren to recall the great struggles and suffering they had already endured.   Heb. 10:36-39 he notes that they still needed endurance, AND that we are not like those who draw back to perdition. 
Romans 5:3-5 notes that when we face tribulations (actually he says we glory in them) it makes us better – it produces perseverance (endurance) which builds up our character and our hope. 
We may not be able to prevent discouragement and frustrations, but we can endure such without sinning. 
Heb. 12:1-3 – consider Jesus who endured the cross, AND hostility from sinners.   1 Peter 2:23 – rather than giving up, Jesus committed Himself to God and to finish the work before Him.

c.        Look beyond the moment – sometimes we get caught up with the immediate circumstance and fail to think about anything else.  At times this results in an inferiority or a martyr complex, which is NEVER helpful. 
A good way to deal with discouragement is to view the bigger picture of things.  Take a step back and take a look.  Maybe you have suffered a setback while in the midst of a project – BUT what have you already accomplished?  Maybe you need to look ahead at the end result as you work through whatever is discouraging you.
John 4:35, Jesus noted, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
As Jesus was about to leave His disciples, John 14:1-3 noted, “Let not your heart be troubled…”   He then reminded them that if He went He would prepare a place for them so that He could welcome them there. 
Joseph in Genesis 50:20 speaks to his brother looking back at all he had endured (much of it wrongfully), yet he said, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
Elijah discouraged, 1 Kings 19 records how he wants to leave.  He says he is alone, but the LORD reminds him there are 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18).  He was NOT alone.
When Paul was alone and about to die he knew he was not totally alone – 2 Timothy 4:17 – the Lord was with him.
REALIZE who is in control!   1 John 4:4 – He is greater than he who is in the world; 1 John 5:4 – faith is the victory that overcomes the world.  You CAN overcome – 1 Corinthians 10:13
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – Paul viewed what he was enduring as “a light affliction” which is working a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  We need to look (focus) on what is not seen.

d.       Keep busy.  You still have work to do.  Keep working at it.  Often times, doing something productive can help you overcome your discouragement.  At least, it will keep you occupied UNTIL you can move past whatever is frustrating you. And perhaps it will help you solve whatever you are dealing with.
Jesus never quit – John 7:1 – after being rejected by many, He went to Galilee and got to work.  John 9:4 He said, I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.   Summarizing his life, Peter noted that Jesus went about doing good.
Elijah, after he requested of God that he was done, was given a set of instructions (1 Kings 19:15-16). 
Galatians 6:9 calls for us to not grow wearing while doing good.
Luke 15:15-19 – when the prodigal son “came to himself” – he didn’t stay in the pig sty.  Instead, he got up and went home. 

e.       Pray about it – we always need to be praying.  We cast our cares upon Him because He cares – 1 Peter 5:7. Matthew 6:33-34 – Jesus, dealing with worry, noted that God knows what we need.  Seek Him first and He will take care of us.
Philippians 4:6-7 – be anxious for nothing, but with prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
AND, when possible – have your brethren pray for you and with you – James 5:16
Again, be reminded that Jesus continually prayed!  (Luke 5:15-16, 6:12-13)  And He is the Son of God, Immanuel.
In Luke 18:1 He taught a parable noting that men ought to always pray and to not lose heart.
Prayer can calm the soul.  When offered in faith (cf. James 1:5-6) it can be assuring.  As we mature in the faith, we learn to leave our struggles and cares WITH Him knowing that He hears us and knows what is best (cf. 1 John 5:14-15)

f.         With gratitude – Philippians 4:4-7.  Along with prayer, we need to be grateful.  Rarely, do we find our troubles outweigh our blessings.  And as Christians we are taught to count our blessings and be grateful.  This is not just an exercise, it helps us understand how truly blessed we are. 
No matter what you are going through, realize that there is always someone in worse shape than you are. 
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 – we pray without ceasing and in everything we give thanks.  
Hebrews 10:34 – you have an enduring possession in heaven.
Hebrews 13:15 toward the conclusion of this book, Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

 

And thus we see some things to consider as we deal with discouragement.  As we have noted, discouragements will come from time to time.  It is what we do with those times that will determine what we are and what we will become.  Let us determine that we are going to rule our emotions and attitudes.  How are you doing in this?