Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
By Chris WittsSunday 18 Oct 2020Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
Everyone will have their share of discouragement at some point in their lifetime. The dictionary defines discouragement as ‘a feeling of despair in the face of obstacles; or a state of distraught and loss of sense of enthusiasm, drive or courage’.
Have you ever felt like that? I guess you probably have—millions have. If you’ve been criticised harshly by someone you don’t respect, it can be difficult to bounce back.
Discouragement happens in all areas of life. An employee puts in his best to ensure his department achieves success, only to get a damaging response instead of a good appraisal from his superior. A woman’s marriage dreams end when her husband is unfaithful—she deeply feels the pangs of discouragement. A couple suffers their second miscarriage while trying to create a family.
Things You May Experience
People deal with discouragement differently, but some may become so discouraged, so distressed that as a result may attempt to take their own lives. Discouraged people experience:
- Sleeplessness—the mind and soul are full of worry.
- Restlessness—absent-mindedness sets in and weariness results.
- Complacency—loss of interest in food even though you might not have eaten for hours.
- Negative thoughts—the ultimate of this are thoughts of suicide as I said in Part 1.
But there are some positive things you can do—like getting better organised. Sounds simple, and it’s something I need to work at. Whether it concerns our time, or our living space, disorganisation and clutter can produce confusion and stress, and ultimately discourage us from fulfilling our duties or tackling the work at hand.
Better organisation may be the answer. Why not create a realistic schedule of work to be done, and don’t allow yourself to be surrounded with chaotic clutter.
The Bible has a great message: to live one day at a time—sometimes it’s necessary to live one moment at a time. While it is worthwhile to make some plans for the future (Luke 14:28-30), none of us knows exactly what the future may bring (James 4:13-15). Focusing on today and trusting God for the grace to deal with what comes our way today is an important aspect of organising our lives. At the start of each day, speak to your Heavenly Father and trust Him. He’s much wiser than you.
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Seek Encouraging Friends
Do you have encouraging friends around you? Seek them out! We need to make friends who will accept us as we are, gently pointing us to God—to be a strength and encouragement to us and not bombard us with discouraging words. During the Boer War, a man was actually court-martialled for comments discouraging the soldiers who were defending a town. The tribunal judged it to be a crime to speak disheartening words at such a critical time.
When Israel camped on the borders of the Promised Land, they sent in spies to check out the territory. The 12 men returned with a mixed report. Two of them (Caleb and Joshua) encouraged the nation to trust in God, moving forward to conquer the land God was giving them. But the other 10 saw only the obstacles and the dangers ahead. The Israelites listened to the majority. They said, “Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven.” (Deuteronomy 1:28).
Who needs ‘friends’ with a message like that! The result of this faithless discouragement was that Israel spent another 40 years in the wilderness. And none of the men except Caleb and Joshua ever saw the Promised Land. When we are going through difficulties, when we are facing challenges in our lives, we need those who will lift us up, and help us to find new hope. We need friends we can turn to for help and support.
Look After Your Thought Life
Your thoughts are powerful tools—for better or worse. We must be promoting a wholesome thought life. It’s easy to be depressed by the news we watch on TV. It can affect how we feel. How refreshing to find the Bible saying this:
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8 – NKJV).
There are uplifting books and novels that can help you. Don’t worry about the garbage. And remember sometimes great achievements come in spite of great handicaps. Many years ago, a young lawyer suffered from such deep depression that he would not even carry a pocket knife, fearful of using it to harm himself. He said, “I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I fear for my future.”
But he was wrong about that. He not only learned to cope with his bouts of discouragement, he went on to become one of the most lauded presidents of the United States of America. His name is Abraham Lincoln.
Remain close to God by reading the Bible and find a good and helpful church. Life can be hard. People do disappoint and hurt us. The Old Testament prophet Nahum spoke of a difficult day and said “The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7 – NKJV). If we’re not in a close, trusting relationship with God, life’s troubles can be unbearable.