Discouragement: 7 Ways to Respond

Discouragement: 7 Ways to Respond 

by Faith Rogers

photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

During this difficult season, many people have been launching their brands, starting a business, investing, studying for exams, writing books, or just growing in God. All of those ventures are wonderful. However, fighting to get back up when you feel discouraged is difficult. Many people look at the results of their efforts and begin to rethink their choices. Some begin the task and then fear convinces them they will fail. If that is you, trust me, you are not alone.

Keep Moving Forward

There are times when the past looks more appealing than the effort of moving forward. New ventures are not for the faint of heart. There are times when hopelessness creeps in. However, remembering that what we are called to do is bigger than us and that we are not just working–our work will be a blessing to others. There is an audience waiting for you.

“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today” Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV.

Discouraged but Don’t Quit

There are many successful individuals who have struggled to achieve their goal. The emotions of being discouraged or the thoughts of quitting crossed their mind, too. However, when God births an idea within, he will provide the means that will lead to prosperity. When you are following him, trust his plan because he will never leave nor forsake you. It’s not always easy but that’s why communicating with him is important. If you are battling with whether to give up, talk to God first and follow his leading.

Below are some ideas that may help you if you feel discouraged:

  • Meditate on God’s promises
  • Don’t forget why you decided to make that particular
  • Put on worship music, and rest in God’s presence
  • Share what you’re feeling or experiencing with those you trust
  • Wait for God to guide your footsteps 
  • Ask God to lead you to Godly mentors
  • Know that it’s ok to feel what you feel

Reasons to keep going

When we do all these things, God gives peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that He will give clarity and guidance to you about what to do next. You may not see the results you want but keep going in order to glorify God. I also pray that He gives you strategies and resources. Trust the process and know that the results will grow. 

Another important point is that we have to put in the work to become knowledgeable about our God-given assignments. When we commit our plans to the Lord they will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). He never said when, but He said they would bear fruit. He is with you and has already gone before you. God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies or change His mind. God always keeps his promises (Numbers 23:19 CEV).

About Faith Rogers

Faith Rogers is an assistant teacher who loves working with kids. She is a lifestyle blogger and aspiring author. Rogers is the youngest of three children in a family of five. She loves spending time with her family and sharing God’s Word to enrich the lives of others. Visit her website for more.

Flash Fiction: Ascending

Ascending

It’s cold underwater. Holding my breath, watching the bubbles bloat and pop in front of me before rising to the surface, I float in the deep. The sun sparkles from beyond the water’s surface, bright yellow, warm, golden. And I know he is also there, so close and yet so far away.

I hadn’t meant to fall. I’d been walking with that man across a mirror-smooth sea. We’d met on the road, and he’d invited me to follow him, promising that together we would do amazing things. We hadn’t known each other long, but the man spoke plainly and there was no lie in his eye. Besides, I was looking for something to do. And once we started across the sea, the still waters as reflective as glass, I could only become more excited about what was to come. So I followed the man, listened to his words. Basked with him in the sun.

But the waves suddenly arose. They were fierce, merciless. They seemed to have a spirit of their own and clawed at my feet, sloshed over my shoes, tugged at my socks. The waves crashed higher and louder. I looked at the man. All around him the waters were calm. I called for help. He answered but, overcome with dread and spray, I couldn’t hear what he said. As the waters rolled over my head, the last I saw of him were his troubled eyes, watching.

Now, the abyss waits below. Cold radiates from the ocean’s depths, chilling my toes and creeping up my legs. Inch by inch, the freeze envelops my flesh. I am unable to move; I cannot think for the pain. The sea pulls me deeper into its bosom.

Our beautiful journey is over. And so, here, now, I will meet an end fitting for one who fails.

Failure is part of the journey.

Warmth pours down from above, pushing back the cold.  

Did you think that the way forward would always be so smooth?

I was afraid to answer. Something is the steady flow of heat spreading in my chest told me he already knew.

Learn from this, for the way is not always so easy for those who follow me. Now rise, and come to me.

The ice had completely melted away. Unburdened, I kick my legs and ascend.  

 

(c) 2019 Delia Talent (Dyane Forde)

A Writer’s Idol: Meditations on Isaiah 46

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Introduction & A Word of Grace

The forty-sixth chapter of Isaiah is all about false gods and idols. But before we dig in, I feel it’s important to extend a word of grace. This devotion wasn’t born from a “do it right, no excuses” mentality, but from my own desperate struggles in creating.

You see, over the course of my writing career, from the time I began drafting scientific articles in graduate school to the present day, I’ve struggled off and on with anxiety and depression. My writing “failures” seem to be the main trigger for the acute onset of anxiety and the oppressive sense of hopelessness that lingers long afterward (without God’s help).

It is from this perspective—with my failures looming large—that I began contemplating Isaiah 46. As you read on, I hope you won’t judge yourself but instead allow God’s power and grace to sink in. Direct your focus toward Him. Not to bring judgment or guilt—but to receive the healing and wholeness only God can give.

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Isaiah 46: The Problem with Idols

An idol is anything that takes the place of God…and idols are burdensome:

1 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary.

I must confess, my writing at times is an idol. I place too much importance on it. When I give anything the place of God, expecting that idol to give me value and purpose—to satisfy the deep longings of my soul—I’m setting myself up to fail. Instead of giving us strength, idols drain us. Why? Because rather than lifting us up, idols must themselves be hefted and carried.

2 They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.

If the truth sets us free, then lies are shackles. When anyone tries to make writing their end all be all, they become slaves to their goal. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t work hard, doing everything as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). I am saying we can’t count on our writing to sustain us. An apple tree might sustain us, but an apple plucked from the tree never will—not for long.

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The search for meaning in “plucked apples” like wealth, work, and earthly pleasures is what led King Solomon to say, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1). The pursuit of idols brings disillusionment…while the pursuit of God Himself provides fulfillment.

3 “Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. 4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

No idol will ever lighten our loads. Instead, they weigh us down with false hopes. Here is the truth that lofts the burdened soul from any idol’s deceit: Only God can sustain us. He is the Source of our creativity and all the beautiful gifts we might be tempted to seek in place of Him.

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Listen to the folly of trusting idols instead of God:

5 “With whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared? 6 Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. 7 They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer; it cannot save them from their troubles.

In this world we will have troubles. Writing a novel (or a book or a thesis) isn’t always a straight-line course from point A to point B. We start projects we never finish. We lose hope and give up (for a time). We discard flawed manuscripts only to torment ourselves over all that wasted effort (though it’s not). If progress is our god, every setback adds to the burden since idols can never move themselves. So long as we keep a tight grip on our desires, refusing to commit them to God, we alone must face the burden.

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Here’s the takeaway: We need to hold our dreams loosely and, if need be, trade our plans for God’s. Not what anyone wants to hear, I know. But consider who God is:

9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ 11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.

Whenever we commit our work to God, He establishes our plans (Proverbs 16:3)…that is to say, He’ll show us what to do. And who better to guide us in our passion for creating stories than the Author of HisStory?

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With God on our side, there’s nothing we can’t do (Philippians 4:13, etc).

About Lara

larastormhitchcock

Lara Storm Hitchcock spends at least half her life within the musty vaults of her brain, constructing new worlds and engaging fictional friends. Since winning the Illinois Young Authors Contest in middle school, she took a detour through graduate school and spent three years as an instructor of geology at the college level before completing her first unpublished novel in 2013.

Lara’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Realm Makers Consortium—when she’s not writing (or chasing an energetic toddler around the house)—she enjoys critiquing and mentoring other writers.

Connect with Lara on her blog Story Storming or on Facebook

Staying the Course: Finding Success the Godly Way

Taking on a project the Lord gives us is as exhilarating as it is challenging. At first, the idea that God thought of you and decided to entrust something close to His heart into your hands seemed almost insane, right? “How do I not mess this up?!?” were the first thoughts that ran through my mind when I started this blog, and it was a driving force that plagued me over the first few weeks. Thankfully, I got over that sense of panic, but it was replaced by another insidious thought: “How do I make this a success?”

Success. It’s a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately. What is it? What does it look like? How do I know when the benchmark is achieved—actually, what is the benchmark??

But, wait. Wanting to be successful can’t be bad. The more people know about our project, book, song, or mission, the more people God can touch. It’s win-win!

Right?

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I’ve listened to a ton of Christian marketing webinars that hang on the idea that God wants you to be wealthy because you can do more good with a lot of money than if you were broke. Coming from a more traditional Christian background where people in service for the Lord often depend on financial gifts and support, it was a bit of a shock to hear that. But, really, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that point of view. 

Success in itself isn’t a bad thing. I mean, why would God give you a gift or talent and send you out into the world to use it just so you can fail?

I think it’s why we seek success and how we do it that are the issues.

So, what is success? The answer is simple: submit your heart, dreams, and expectations to God and He will work it out according to His master plan. The key point is the latter half of that sentence.

Did you catch it? Read on for specifics.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Isaiah 55:11 King James Version (KJV)

11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

So, faith is the real measure of success. And God is the one who brings the results. We need faith to step out of our comfortable world and take on a new challenge, faith that we will have access to the resources and support to accomplish that challenge, and faith that He is working on our behalf even when we don’t see the proof of it.

When God communicates His intention to us, He makes it His responsibility to see it through. Not because we are special, particularly gifted, or have earned it, but because He intends to use what He put in us to reach the world. His desire is to reach hearts, touch and transform lives, and ultimately save the lost. From that perspective, it makes sense that God would ensure that His plans work out!

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But what happens when a holy God has people of flesh to work with? We get excited, start off on fire for God and then—

-become overwhelmed

-become lost, confused, disappointed, frustrated with God

-we doubt our Call

-we lose sight of the vision

-we begin to think that failure is a reflection of our self-worth

-we try to force it to work in our own strength

–we quit.

Ultimately, the variables in that list go on and on. To be honest, against God’s ‘still, small voice’, the bombardment from social media almost makes it feel like there’s no contest. We are blasted with blog posts, Tweets, and emails reminding us that we don’t have enough blog hits, or that our sales conversion rates are too low, that our branding sucks, or that if you can’t sell a book it’s because of 900 different reasons, etc., etc. 

How can we not feel like failures?

There’s no judgement from me, believe me. I’m right there with you, fighting my own battle to stay the course. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m writing this. It’s been a particularly challenging few weeks and writing this post is my act of faith. 

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If you’ve been having a rough week, feel like you need help to reclaim your vision or sense of purpose, or have some other need, don’t keep it to yourself. Go back to your Call and bring it to God. Ask Him to refresh the vision, to soothe your heart, and to clear your mind so that you can see clearly. If you need prayer or want to talk more, write me. Or, reach out to someone you trust. But don’t suffer alone.

We are stronger together.

And we are unstoppable with God.

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