I received a message from a friend today sharing that they'd had a bit of a nasty accident and narrowly escaped breaking some bones. The disappointing thing for them is that they had just set some fresh goals and a renewed focus on their exercise routine.
I've discovered that unexpected setbacks are part of the risk we face in following our dreams, setting fresh goals, and God's leading for our life is that we will at some point experience some level of discouragement.
However, we are in excellent company whenever we feel this way. For example, Noah faced continual discouragement when preaching for decades, and only eight people responded favourably. (Genesis 5; 2 Peter 2:5)
Joseph helped someone, and when they had the opportunity to assist him in return, they left him forgotten in an Egyptian prison for years. (Genesis 40:5-15; 23)
Moses came off Mt Sinai after having a "full-on" encounter with God to discover that all the people he was responsible for leading were busy worshipping a golden calf. (Exodus 32:1-8)
Jeremiah was thrown into a well after speaking the truth and doing what God had told him to do. (Jeremiah 38:1-6
David, Job, the early disciples of Jesus, Paul, and many others also suffered discouragement. However, if you continue reading the accounts of each of the above-mentioned people's stories, you'll discover they did eventually bridge the gap between what God had spoken and promised and their circumstances. They fulfilled their purpose, reached their goals and are noted as being great men and women of faith.
So how do we deal with what the dictionary describes as a: loss of confidence or enthusiasm, dispiritedness, downheartedness, dejection, depression, demoralization, disappointment and despair? Yep all those "D" words.
Jesus gives us some keys on how to overcome disappointment.
1. He refused to give up – the key to overcoming obstacles and disappointments in every situation is not "where you are, but what you are?" Joy and happiness depend not on our circumstances but on what and who we are. It's why it is imperative we know who we are in Jesus.
2. He had perspective -Jesus looked at every situation from a heavenly viewpoint. He said for us to "lift up our eyes" (John 4:35). And to set our minds on things above and not upon earthly things. (Colossians 3:2; Matthew 6:33)
3. He kept walking – Jesus knew what he was on earth to do, and he just kept his focus and moved ahead.
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people". (Matthew 4:23-24)
4. He drew aside and prayed – when faced with decisions, discouragement or sorrow, such as when John the Baptist was murdered, Jesus drew close to the Father and received strength and comfort.
"When Jesus heard what happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place". (Matthew 14:13)
"And rising very early in the morning while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed".(Mark 1:35-36)
5. He kept doing good and speaking love, joy, and blessing – Amid opposition and discouragements, Jesus just kept doing what He was called to do, which ultimately caused Him to triumph over sin and death. (Acts 10:38)
Whenever you feel discouraged, lift your head and look to and learn from Jesus. Know and remind yourself of who you are and what you are here for, and refocus on your goals and purpose.
Practice waiting and drawing your strength from Jesus, who sees all. He says, "don't grow weary in doing good, for in due season you shall reap if you do not give up". (Galatians 6:9 NIV)
Watch out for God's unexpected blessings to encourage you. He is good, and if you hold steady and keep walking with Him, He promises He'll make it all work out better than you can think, dream, or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
And in the words of Winston Churchill, who also knew what it was to face pressure, disappointments, and opposition.
"Never give in. Never, never, never, never in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your example of how to navigate and walk through discouragement. Please help me remember and keep my eyes on the truth of who I am and what I am here for so that I don't give up. In Jesus Name Amen.