Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dealing With Discouragement

Discouragement is nothing new to mankind. In fact it is something we all wish we didn't have to deal with. It happens when our plans don't turn out as well as we expected, and we get frustrated that we don't see a way to fix the problem. Sometimes we want to just walk away and quit.

But more often than not, quitting is not an option to discouragement, especially when it comes to raising kids or making it to another day. So how do we keep on going when we want to abandon our plans?

One suggestion might be to re-examine the plan. Whose plan is it anyway?

In Jeremiah 29:11, God tells us "For I know the plans
I have for you."

It is important to plan our lives with God's will in mind. We ask God to be part of our plans. We may even petition Him with something like, "God, help me to gt this job so I can afford to take my family on a vacation next summer." Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting to take your family on a nice summer vacation. But let's take a closer look. The prayer that was lifted up amounts to this: "God, this is what I want (the vacation), this is the way I want it to happen (make money on this job), and I want You to arrange it." No wonder we're discouraged when it doesn't happen -- we just put ourselves in charge of God!

Perhaps a better approach would be for us to present our requests to God, laying them at the foot of the cross. We should surrender our plans to Him, and thankfully and humbly receive our place in His divine plan for us.

Will that mean that we will never experience discouragement? The apostle Paul went through some pretty discouraging times in his ministry (see 2Corinthians 11:23-29). Jesus himself must have felt discouragement when his own followers didn't understand (John 6:60-67 comes to mind). So, yes, we will have periods when we are doing the work that God has called us to do and not see it bear fruit. But we can take encouragement from the words that Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

"Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

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