Have I not commanded you? 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
Joshua had just been given the job of trying to fill Moses’s shoes. Anyone want that job? Joshua was assigned the task of leading the Hebrew people into the Promised Land. This land was flowing with milk and honey, but it was also filled with giants and armies. The Lord tells Joshua to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid and not be discouraged. The reason? God will be with them wherever they go.
And this reveals a secret to bouncing back from discouragement.
Have you ever hit the wall of discouragement? Maybe work became overwhelming. Or someone spoke a harsh word to you. Or you got into a fight with your spouse or family member or friend. Something was supposed to go right and instead it went horribly wrong.
Discouragement is like the brick wall that you don’t see coming. You’re just cruising along, enjoying life, and then you slam right into it unknowingly. Discouragement feels like a weight around your neck. It is demotivating and de-energizing.
So how do we recover from discouragement?
Sure, there are all the normal bits of advice. Exercise. Get outside. Go do something fun. Other people try to combat discouragement by using their favorite escape. They escape into video games, food, alcohol, etc. But I have found that these are only temporary in their relief.
Next time you feel discouraged, I want you to try this. Go to God in prayer. Describe to Him the situation that is so discouraging. Lay it all out. Then conclude with something like this: “Father, I feel discouraged right now, but I know You are with me. I know that I am Your son/daughter and You love me. I know what You say about me is true. And right now I need encouragement. Would You send me some encouragement today/this week?”
That’s it! Ask God to encourage you. Have you ever done this? I know it sounds too simple, but, I am telling you, it is powerful! I have done this over and over again and watched as God brought encouragement to me in the most unique ways. After asking God to provide encouragement for me, I’ll get a random email or Facebook message. I’ll get what seems like a random word of encouragement from a source I wouldn’t expect. And I believe you will too.
The Lord commands us, “Do not be discouraged,” because He wants to provide encouragement for us. He doesn’t want us seeking our own methods of soothing our wounded soul. He doesn’t want us trying to escape life. He wants us returning to Him in our need and trusting that He is our ultimate provider of everything…even encouragement.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.James 1:2-5, 17