Resist Discouragement

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”– John 14:1.

Discouragement is a temptation, a common one. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind” (NIV)   If we linger in discouragement it can be costly. It can sap us of our energy and dreams, and it can consume a lot of time. It can keep us from doing what we need to do because we don’t want to face it.  

The book of Nehemiah illustrates how the enemy can discourage us, and how we should respond to discouragement in a way that prevents more damage and that moves toward healing our wounds.

Nehemiah was the man that God raised up to accomplish an important task – to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Despite all their efforts, however, they faced plenty of opposition from their hostile neighbors. Essentially they were saying that Jews were totally incapable of building the wall of Jerusalem when the Jews were working so hard every day under the blazing sun. Nehemiah’s response as given in vs.4-5: “Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in front of the builders.” These words were spoken to God, and not to those who had spoken against the Jews.

Nehemiah did not react at all to their criticism. He did not retaliate against the enemies with equal actions or words. Neither should you react when you receive criticism from others. You will also notice that Nehemiah pours out his feelings to God frankly and honestly, and then just rests his case with Him. Be content to know that God will deal appropriately with the ones who have criticized you unjustly in His own good time.  

When you are discouraged, remember God’s promises. Nehemiah 4:15 says, “When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall.” Psalm 34:19-20 says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!”

The main application for you is to press on with whatever God directs you to do in your journey of life. Whatever difficulties you face, you must keep your morale high, because God is with you every step of the way. You can only accomplish so much on your own, but you can “…do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13).

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Have you ever become discouraged in some aspect of your life and thought about quitting? Think back on what made it so discouraging and how you dealt with it at the time.
  2. How can the story of Nehemiah help you deal with discouragement this week? 

How Resilient Are We?

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” — Joshua 1:9

With so many people experiencing the twists, turns, and transitions life’s journey presents them, we need a spirit of resilience. Resilience is best displayed when a person is following God’s plan, purpose and path even though opposition seeks to set up roadblocks along the way. Despite the shifts, schemes, and distractions that one has to deal with on a daily basis, resilience serves as the foundational trust in God’s promises.  

Do we exercise resilience? Are we resilient in our calling? Or resilient in our God-given roles? Are we resilient when we are weary? Are we resilient even when giving up appears to be the most comfortable option? Are we resilient when no one acknowledges us?

Like any skill, mental, emotional, and spiritual resilience can be learned. It starts by redefining setbacks as something greater. Tune out the critics and focus on doing your best. Learn from failure, and remember the many times you’ve succeeded. Refuse to dwell on the past or worry about the future; today is where you have the most influence. When things look hopeless, remember “with God all things are possible.” Pray for guidance when you’re in over your head. and remember you “can do all things through Christ” when you think you can’t. To do these things, we need to get better acquainted with our resident helper and guide, the Holy Spirit. 

Is this a little mysterious?  Yes, But the Holy Spirit is the One who gives us resilience. He is the one who compels us and empowers us to keep trusting, hoping and moving, forward. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to rise up every time our circumstances get us down.

Here is how the apostle Paul explains it: “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:10-11) The Holy Spirit gives us the power to rise up every time our circumstances get us down.

Just like the inflatable clown punching bags many of us had when we were kids, life sometimes knocks us horizontal. But because the Holy Spirit is within us, we have the means to get back upright again and again, no matter how many times we’ve been knocked down. 

Discussion Questions: 

  1. How would you define resiliency in your life?  How have you bounced back from a failure, loss, or disappointment? How did God help?