Today I want to talk about one of the biggest hurdles in our faith. It’s one of the enemy’s favorite tools in keeping us from growing––not just spiritually … but economically and educationally. In fact, I don’t think there’s one area of your life that isn’t affected by this obstacle. 

Today, I want to talk about defeating discouragement.

In any race there is fatigue. No matter what you do, we ALL get tired. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. It causes us to shrink back from our duties, goals, and expectations. But if we overcome it, we can live out God’s best for us! In Acts 20:24, Luke tells us on behalf of the Apostle Paul, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Unfortunately, most people never finish their race. They get distracted. And for one reason or another, they grow old with unachieved dreams without ever realizing what God had planned for them. Often times, discouragement is the biggest deterrent in our lives. 

But that thing that discourages you, or intended to discourage you from God’s purpose for your life, doesn’t have to! Right now the state of our communities and chaos across our country can make us feel overwhelmed with discouragement and dread. 

Here are 3 ways to overcome discouragement:

  1. Ask yourself, what is slowing you down?
    Hebrews 12:1 reminds us, “We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

    There are a lot of people in your life that want you to run their race for them. They’ll add so many expectations, responsibilities, and distractions that God never intended for your life. The Bible makes it clear, if you’re going to go far in this race you’ll need to remove those things!
  2. Remind yourself, why you became a Christian.
     Ephesians 2:10 promises us, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

    Remembering your WHY will give you determination. Remember that this whole life isn’t about you. The more we focus outwardly, the more excited we get to live out God’s purpose in our life. 
  3. Get in the Word on a daily basis!
     2 Corinthians 4:16 encourages us, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
     
    Just like your physical body gets hungry, your spirit is hungry. It’s hungry for the Word of God. To go without it for a day is like starving it. Stay encouraged by knowing what God has to say about your life and the instructions and direction he can give you every day.

Overcoming discouragement IS possible! So, let me ask you … What has God called you to do? At the end of a long lived life, will you be able to say that you endured? Will you have lived the life that you were created for?
The key to endurance is perspective. Most people in this world are living life as if all that matters is today. And that’s wrong. Today’s going to be over … TODAY! We need to live with the perspective of eternity in mind. If you’re going to avoid discouragement, you’ve got to know how to recharge yourself spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Especially during this time!

Set yourself up for the race ahead by refueling your faith in these 3 key ways that a mentor of mine gave me as I was entering full-time ministry:

1. Divert daily
Take time each day to get quiet with the Lord. You need some time where nothing is demanded from you. Where the distractions are gone and you can be focused in silence for some time of renewal. If this is new to you, start with as little as 5 minutes. As you do this you’ll notice you want more time to do this. Add 5 minutes at a time as you build up and you’ll soon realize you don’t want to go a day without it. 

As I mentioned, 2 Corinthians 4:16 encourages us to be renewed day by day. We know that each day carries enough challenges of its own. While we do not always know what obstacles are headed our way, we can trust that the Lord does! And it is He who will navigate you through those waters. 

2. Withdraw weekly
The race ahead is going to require rest. Take a whole day each week to do something different, something fun or relaxing. Make a list of things that refuel you and choose something from this list one day each week to get your mind off of your daily grind.

3. Abandon annually
Schedule the time to get out of town and do something for an extended period of time like a week or two or more! Know what refreshes you and do something engaging and fulfilling! It takes energy to do God’s will and you need a plan for when you run out of gas. 

Discouragement can ruin a conversation, a job, a marriage, a faith, OR a life. When we talk about “the building of our faith” we’re talking about taking the first steps of change. God takes His time in growing us step by step and piece by piece. Did you know it takes a mushroom about 24 hours to be fully grown. Ha. It takes an oak tree about 100 years! A mushroom could be brushed over. Pshh! But an oak tree is immovable. It’s solid! God is interested in building oak trees of faith. He’s strengthening us through everything that He allows in our lives. Yes, even a quarantine and social unrest! 

The race of life is tough. But you CAN overcome discouragement and refuel your faith regularly with enough fuel to finish in a strong sprint. Implement these practices this week, and you’ll see discouragement leaving you and encouragement coming. Let me know how it goes!