I’m writing this in the most uncomfortable chair in my house. Because the alternative is my couch, and the couch is a banquet hall for a dismal existence. (If that’s the only banquet hall that you grace with your presence.) Sitcoms and rom-coms are fair-weather friends, but they don’t join you in the trenches when you’re face is in the dirt.
You see, I’m writing this blog post as a way of burning the bridges of complacency. I’ve been on a journey for nearly a year to start this blog and inspire the uninspired, lost, and confounded. Why? Because discouragement, that’s why. I hate it. Discouragement, while a horrible companion, has a way of making you take radical steps to get away from it.
In this journey lies a tension, though—between red-eyed expectancy, teeth-gritting fury, and recklessly hope-filled action. If you’re reading this, chances are you suspect you’re discouraged, or you need help encouraging discouraged people. Take it from a recovering discouraged person.
Here are five symptoms of a discouraged person.
1. A discouraged person is cynical. People bound in discouragement don’t like platitudes or patronization, but they also have a way of writing off genuine encouragement.
2. A discouraged person is without hope. To someone who is racked with discouragement, they just can’t see a way past their season or situation. Everything is bleak.
3. A discouraged person confused. Discouragement clouds the mind. It obstructs the clear and concise direction that the individual possessed before the discouragement. He or she begins to question if the present path is the right path or the wrong one. A lot of times, discouraged people can’t clearly articulate the source of the frustration.
4. A discouraged person is static. A discouraged person is petrified and unable, sometimes unwilling, to move. Discouraged people may feel uneasy to take action because they’ve been burned before and may feel a little overly cautious.
5. A discouraged person is emotional. A lot of times, a discouraged person may be on the brink of tears or outburst. Oftentimes, he or she will stifle all emotions until reaching a breaking point.
What do you do, then? What advice is there for encouraging discouraged people? What if you yourself are locked into this pit of discouragement?
First, remember that you’re not. You’re not locked into your present season. It just may feel like it. Remember the principle of seasons in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes 3:1: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”
Next, worship the Lord. Paul and Silas worshiped locks off of their prison cells in Acts 16:25-26. Worshiping the Lord re-aligns us in Him. It positions us to look to Him and honor Him as He deserves.
Pray. Don’t withhold the urge to vent to the Lord. King David’s Psalms seem pretty confrontational. He understood that he was looking from limited, finite vantage point, but that didn’t stop him from begging the Lord to help him to see from Heaven’s point of view—and for Heaven to intervene.
Know who you’re dealing with. Remember that God “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” (Ephesians 3:20) In other words: He can turn this all around in the blink of an eye.
Listen. The under-appreciated sibling of prayer is listening. Ask yourself five questions like these: Why am I discouraged? What do I want? Does God want it for me? What or who is keeping me from having it? Is there anything I can do or does it require an act of God? If it does require an act of God, then “Psalm 37:5” the heck out of it! (Commit it to Him, trust Him, and watch what He does.)
What have you found to be true in seasons of discouragement? What tips do you have for encouraging discouraged people?