What do you think about when you hear the word discouragement?
Lies. Hurtful words. Debilitating thoughts on repeat? Everything going on in my mind right now?
Maybe for you discouragement means to the point of being unable to do anything. Maybe even unable to move for fears surrounding you. Maybe yours is called anxiety and fear, they are forms of discouragement to a degree.
Discouragement is anything negative trying to keep you from what you are supposed to be doing.
It is a tool Satan uses to distract and move us in such a way, negatively that we become stagnate or worse we dissolve or fold right where we are.
Discouragement comes in many forms and from many places but guess what?
No matter where it originated from, it doesn't have to make a home in your mind or heart! So, how do we fight discouragement in all its (debilitating) forms.
"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
What is the opposite of discouragement? ENCOURAGEMENT.
Where does our ultimate encouragement come from? The truth that God is with us, "wherever we go" as we see in Joshua 1:9 (above verse).
What about strength? You may be thinking I don't have enough, I am literally struggling to breathe right now.
Dear friend, you are not alone. Not only is Christ with you right now but there are many in our Christian family who have and are struggling with what you are struggling with.
Do NOT believe the lie that you are alone or that this struggle is unique to you.
You are unique and special but not by being the only one to struggle with anxiety, fear, or maybe repetitive discouraging thoughts.
The enemy wants you to feel alone and that starts by making you believe you ARE alone.
But you are NOT. GO ahead and kick that thought out with truth.
I wouldn't be writing this article if this wasn't something I have struggled with and at times still struggle with. #preachingthegospeltomyself.
Being strong isn't about your strength. It isn't my strength, your strength or even OUR collective strength. It is HIS STRENGTH.
Be strong in Him. In other words, it is trusting that He has you. Trusting that He is as faithful as He has been in the past. He will be today as well!!! Remember, you are not alone.
Be courageous. Courage gets this wrong definition sometimes, and I hate to say it is even in the Christian circles. Sometimes people talk about being fearless and have courage as the same thing. But, having courage and being fearless are two different things.
Courage is about having faith and going on DESPITE fears.
Fearless is going on because there are no fears to battle along the way.
We all have fears.
We all have negative thoughts.
Some of us really do struggle more with anxiety than others.
We don't have to be defenseless though, because we ARE walking into a battle.
If you are fighting with discouragement today, you know what I mean. It is a battle. Being fearless, however, there is no fear to fight. Courage means we must fight and push through like a football player being tackled on his way to make a touchdown. Is there anything more awesome (other than touchdowns than when the player is pushing through while other are trying to stop him, but he keeps moving... my sports are coming out...okay back to this).
Fear is the opposition.
And we fight it with faith. We fight it in His strength!
How do we allow His strength to strengthen us? The key is letting Him into our daily lives. To opening ourselves up, especially in those dark periods. Opening God's Word each and every day is the greatest sword. And doing so daily will decrease the dark periods or at least make them less dark (speaking from experience).
There is not mistake when talking about the full armor of God that the sword is the Bible, His Word.
"10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:10-18 (underlined for emphasis).
To wield this sword, we have to know it. We have to use it daily.
Step one is realizing you are not alone!
Step two is picking up His Word, your sword.
You may be asking, how do I start? Where do I even begin?
It can be hard to choose where to start so let me make a few suggestions:
Start in Psalms, Proverbs, and/or John. Then make your way to Ephesians.
If you are looking for a more in-depth (community) study, join us for daily devotions as we go through the Bible in Chronological order. You can see these devotions on Instagram or any of our social media platforms (@lacedevotion).
Once you pick up His Word, arm yourself with prayer. Ask Him to open your heart and reveal something for you today. Trust me, He will!! Nothing gives Him more pleasure than when we are seeking Him.
Proverbs 8:17, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me." That's a promise. You seek, He will reveal what you need; Himself.
Truth. Hope. Encouragement.
Also look at Jeremiah 29:11-13. Normally verse 11 is the focus but the following verses are vital for our conversation today.
"11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
With all your heart? Sometimes we get caught up in that like "oh what if I don't seek enough or I don't do it right?" God isn't setting you up for failure. Remember, no one wants you more in His Word and spending time with Him than HIM!
Be encouraged, He is FOR you! He is your refuge and defense.
So, step three is pray.
Step four is bask in what you read and in His presence. Before you know it, those thoughts will be replaced with truth.
And then when it happens later in the day, hold on to a verse or two you read.
Then tomorrow, do it again. And every day after. I promise, it will help.
Elizabeth is a senior in college, graduating with a degree in Communications in May 2018. She is passionate about storytelling and ministry, that is why she founded LaceDevotion Ministries back in 2015 to encourage others and point them to the Ultimate Love, Jesus Christ.