sad-catWhen was the last time you were discouraged? You may even be discouraged today as you’re reading this. Discouragement is part of life and we all deal with it from time to time. But if we don’t handle it in an appropriate way, it will hold us back in our walk with God.

So how should we handle discouragement? Begin by identifying the source.

 

Maybe the source of your discouragement is a difficult person in your life.

I’ve been discouraged by difficult people. These are some characteristics of difficult people who have discouraged me over the years: negative, critical, pessimistic, blunt and insensitive, resistant to change, set in their ways, demanding, draining, unteachable, controlling, bossy… you get the idea. You could probably add some characteristics from your own life experiences.

But we also need to ask the question, “Am I a difficult person in someone’s life?”

Another source of discouragement is difficult circumstances.

I get discouraged when things don’t go the way I wanted them to. Or when I compare my circumstances to someone else’s or when life seems to be treating others better. When life gets hard and I’m worn out physically and emotionally, discouragement creeps in.

Perhaps you’re in the middle of difficult circumstances today – an illness or disease, a hard financial situation, a job situation, problems in your marriage or with your children, or a feeling of failure. Difficult circumstances can discourage us.

A third source of discouragement is difficult words.

Words can hurt and sting, leaving scars. I have heard my share of difficult words – words of rejection, disapproval, gossip, criticism – and they have left me in tears many times.

You’ve probably been discouraged by someone’s words spoken to you in anger or haste that pierced deeply. But on the flip side, have your words discouraged someone?

This excerpt from Streams in the Desert (Vol. 1) dated October 16 is a good reminder for me when I find myself discouraged.

There are weights which are not sins in themselves, but which become distractions and stumbling blocks in our Christian progress. One of the worst of these is despondency. The heavy heart is indeed a weight that will surely drag us down in our holiness and usefulness. . . The devil has two master tricks. One is to get us discouraged; then for a time at least we can be of no service to others, and so are defeated. The other is to make us doubt…

Are you discouraged today? Identify the source.

In the next post, we’ll look at the solution. How should we deal with discouragement once we’ve identified the source?