To be discouraged is to be deprived of hope, confidence, and courage. It is to be disheartened or dispirited. The Oxford English Dictionary uses the same words to define discouragement but adds another worthy piece to its definition: enthusiasm. To be discouraged, it says, is to lose not only confidence and hope but enthusiasm as well.
Our goals and aspirations, our desires and dreams, our unique calling and purpose, and our basic needs all help define our existence. They create joy and meaning. But they also swing open wide the door to the pain of discouragement, since the road to fulfillment is hardly ever straightforward or easy. The delays challenge our hope. The setbacks threaten our confidence. The doubts creep into our hearts at night and convince us that we’re not able. We’re not capable.
We’re too old. Too young. Too different. Too awkward. Too far behind, not far enough, or altogether not worthy enough. Real love? That doesn’t exist. Happy endings? That’s for fairy tales. And even if the good things do exist, they must not for me. I’ve lost my chance. I’ve missed my shot.
Delays and setbacks rob our hope, confidence, and enthusiasm, and also rob our courage. The loss of courage is at the heart of discouragement. This is not something to take lightly. Without courage, we can’t do hard things. Without courage we can’t do anything at all. That’s because courage is not just a decision; it’s an ability.
Courage is the ability to persevere.
Courage is the ability to venture into new territories.
Courage is the ability to face our fears.
Courage is the ability to withstand adversity.
Courage is climbing to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. But courage is also working twenty-nine thousand feet below it, on the ground, serving alongside the Nepalese to spread the good news of Jesus.
Courage is when you go out on your first date in four years because your heart has finally healed after your failed marriage. But courage is also going out on your 222nd date as a never-married single woman, even though the first 221 dates didn’t lead anywhere.
Courage is when you pray that God will heal a friend’s mother from cancer when you just lost your own mom to it a year ago. Courage is praying and trying for a baby, even after you’ve been told it’s just not possible. Courage wakes us up and keeps us going. We can’t live out our purpose, calling, and dreams without it.
I have found that one of the most powerful things I can do during a season of discouragement is to wrap myself in encouragement, tenderness, and love. It is the same with my clients, friends, and students. It is likely the same for you. You need encouragement for your discouragement. You need to deal with yourself with tenderness. You need to speak to yourself in love.
Wrapping yourself in encouragement means surrounding yourself with people who will speak life into you. It means finding a community — be it a church, a gym, or a writer’s group — that will pursue purpose with you and remind you that you are not alone. It is sitting quietly with a book that brings strength and resolve to your heart. It is collecting cards and notes and texts that you can refer back to privately when everything inside you wants to give up. For me, it’s a collection of texts from my mother that I may just create a devotional out of one day. That’s how healing they’ve been to me. Let me share a few of my favorites from over the years because I believe there’s a word in them for you too.
Beautiful Peace. Raise your head high. There is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing missing. It is about the timing of the Lord. I love you.
Beautiful Peace. I pray you overcome the enemy’s camp and move forward in all your dreams and aspirations. I love you.
Beautiful Peace. You are blessed and highly favored. The Lord is working behind the scenes to bless you. This month will bring good things. I pray the joy of the Lord be your strength. I love you.
Beautiful Peace. Play classical music, sip some ginger tea, and cover yourself with warmth. You are loved.
Great, huh? Stay close to the people who reflect the love, tenderness, and encouragement of God in your life. Be open with them and let them know they are needed. Pray for more of these types of people or experiences in your life if you feel you are lacking. Become this type of person to yourself. And please hear this from me:
My Sister, my Brother
You are blessed and highly favored.
The Lord is working behind the scenes to bless you.
This month will bring good things.
May the joy of the Lord be your strength.
With Love, Peace
Adapted from Why Do I Feel Like This by Peace Amadi. Copyright (c) 2021 by Chynyere Peace Amadi. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com Adapted from Chapter Five, “Discouragement: Our Need for Confidence and Courage”
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