Discouraged: We’ve All Been There

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I am reminded of the story of the man that approached a little league baseball game one hot, sunny afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy kept his gaze on the field and responded, “Eighteen to nothing—we’re behind.” “Woah,” said the man, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.” “Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy. “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!” Discouragement is a state of mind and heart that repeatedly looks at circumstances and says, “this is not the way I expected or wanted things to go!” It can be a result of unmet expectations, repeated failure, or even looking at the future and not seeing any discernable way for things to change in a positive direction. Thus, we become discouraged. Here are some truths about it:

It affects all of us. Every Bible character as we can imagine has dealt with discouragement at some point in their lives. Job sat in ashes and loss scraping himself with a broken piece of pottery. The prophets preached their hearts out to people who had rejected God and persecuted them. God’s people collectively were discouraged in the report of the spies of the land of Canaan (If you think it can’t happen congregationally, read Numbers 13!) David wrote psalm upon psalm about his troubles and how deeply they affected him. It really is a “common to man” problem that really does affect all (1 Cor. 10:13).

It affects all of us in different ways. Jacob was never really the same once he concluded his son Joseph was dead. It seems he withdrew from life in the latter chapters of Genesis. Moses was dealing with the death of his sister and had a group of ungrateful Israelites at his door complaining against God and against him about a water problem. In his discouragement, he lashed out at them and struck a rock in disobedience to God (Num. 20:1-9). Knowing the ways discouragement comes for us, and especially how it affects us is absolutely key to handling it with joy and patience (Ps. 139:23-24; Jas. 1:2-7).

It is a problem which Jesus personally experienced. We appreciate the sentiments of Hebrews 4:14-16 which ought to be an encouragement for all of us, “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was at all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus experienced discouragement. What is more, Jesus came to deal with and conquer the root of discouragement once and for all (Jn. 12:31-32). If there really is something to keep us going and enduring and not giving up in discouragement, it is this: My Lord conquered it and if I keep my eyes on Him, I will be with Him forever in a place that will be made sweeter and more beautiful because I endured through discouragement like Him (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17-18). What a glorious thought! We’ve all been there. Hang in there!

Andy Baker
Graeber Road church of Christ
Rosenberg, TX

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