Discouragement can paralyze us and keep us from doing God’s will. It can impair our vision and change the way we serve. I think the key to solving this problem is getting to the root of why we become discouraged and want to give up.
There are innumerable reasons why we are ready to throw in the towel. Maybe someone you were counting on didn’t come through, it might seem like the same cycle is repeating itself for the millionth time, finances just won’t increase despite the tireless effort you put into it, the list of "why" and "what" keeps growing and getting worst.
I can definitely relate to being discouraged. I find this happens to me when things are not going according to my plans.
Over the past few months, I have been trying to process a word the Lord gave me. He spoke, “It’s time to transition.” I was excited about hearing this word but not so much about what I later found it to really mean. He spoke this word to me 11 months ago and during this time life has seemly gone in the opposite direction.
My transition, which I didn’t know then but know now, was to leave dance ministry (my building, not offering services on my website) to preach the gospel. I received the call to preach 11/12 years ago but I knew it wasn’t time to do it. I was a stay-at-home mom with 6 kids toddlers. They were all very little and needed me to be there for them as mom. During that time, they were my "ministry" assignment. Our first ministry is in the home. So, I willingly put the words the Lord spoke to me on the shelf knowing that in his time it would come to pass.
When I heard, "it’s time to transition", I had no clue I would be leaving my studio. I'd had this building for eight years; it was my second home. I’d been dancing since I was 13 and now, I’m approaching 43, that’s 30 years! Dance was my outlet growing up in a broken home. When I became a believer, dance became my way to communicate to the father when I couldn’t find the right words to pray. During the past four/five years, the Lord allowed me to travel and teaching and training other ministers of dance, but I always felt like there was more for me to do. Each place I went to, I felt the burning passion to help people get delivered and to share the gospel with them.
The passion to preach the gospel began to burn in me like never before. I began to check myself.... Why do I want to do this? Do you want to be seen? Do you want to be somebody? Or do I really want people to develop personal, intimate relationship with the father? During times of discouragement your "why" can easily be lost. The voices and opinions of others can cause you to lose your way. During this time, it was very difficult for me to hear the voice of the Lord because the opinions of others became louder within me until God’s voice became a faint whisper.
I’m the type of person, who can’t function without hearing and being connected to the Lord. This brought me great turmoil. During this time was the Lord was showing me I was trying to control things that only he could do. I thought if I consistently communicated it would show my motives and heart were pure, but I couldn't prove that; God had to. Have you ever been in a place where you want people to know, I’m the good guy or I’m trying to do what’s right? We can’t prove the call or will of God on our lives. Only God can do that. This caused discouragement to grow.
God gave me this word and here I was trying to help him bring it to pass. Have you done that before? When my human efforts tried to birth something supernatural I failed. Discouragement comes when we don’t trust God to do what he said he would do. I know you want it to happen a certain way but that’s usually not God’s way.
As I have been walking the road to “transition” I had to learn who I was in Christ. I had lost my identity in this process by going back to desiring the approval of others. Discouragement caused me to go back to what the Lord had delivered me from years prior. We have to be very careful of this. I was emotional basket case constantly up and down because I lost who I was.
I’m so grateful for sincere friends who are not afraid to correct me and lovingly point out my flaws. I didn’t see these things, a friend brought it to my attention. During this time not only was God trying to transition me he was trying to get me to learn to trust him in a new way and to release control to him.
Can you trust God with what you are praying about, or do you feel the need to “help it” come to pass? At the time I didn’t realize I was trying to do it myself, I genuinely thought I was being lead of the spirit. Being led by the spirit never leads to frustration. The situation could be going all wrong but the Holy Spirit always give you peace if you allow him to.
Eleven months into this process, through much prayer and seeking the Lord I have finding the preacher God is calling me to be. She is still being developed but I have found her identity. She is who God says she is and not who others think she should be. Which frees me to say what he wants me to say, do what he says to do and go, without fear, into the arenas and places he is calling me to go into.
I have released control of trying to fix it. My efforts didn’t accomplish anything but discouragement and let down after let down. I feel the freedom now since I'm letting God order my steps and not having to figure it out. Don’t get me wrong, the "doer" in me really wants to jump in and help God but the Holy Spirt is helping me to stay in my place.
I also learned that these last eleven months have been a wilderness experience. The wilderness can be a place of discouragement because you can feel like God has abandoned you. When the truth is he has you there to purify you. But if you don’t know where you are in the process due to discouragement, you’ll miss what the Lord is doing and have to repeat the test until you understand where you are and pass the test.
At the time I didn’t have language for what I was encountering but I knew what I was going through was extremely difficult. I had another dear friend shared a video with me about being in the wilderness. As I listened to the speaker, I was like oh wow, this is exactly what I’m dealing with, EVERY WORD was line on point.
The wilderness is a place to purify and make you ready for the promise. God made me a promise that I would preach but purification was required. The promise came first and then the wilderness. This was the same for Jesus. God affirmed him then lead him to the wilderness to be tried. Many of us fail here because the discouragement is go great. The Lord has shown me that the way to make it through this time is by drawing closer to him each day.
Are you discouraged right now as you're reading this? If so, go to the Lord and pour it all out to him in prayer. He already knows where you are, he wants you to be real with him. As I drove home from San Antonio the other the day, I was fighting discouragement and the Holy Spirit draw me into prayer. It was such a powerful moment. Within about twenty minutes it lifted!
If we want victory and not to quit we have to fight issues that come up God’s way with his tactic and methods. We are not fighting flesh and blood. I’m sure there are many more lessons for me to learn in this process, but discouragement will no longer defeat me and cause me to throw in the towel. Say it out of your mouth, “discouragement will not defeat me!” We have life and death in the power of our tongue! Speak LIFE!
Get before the Lord, ask him what he is doing with you and why has the discouragement come. Whats making you want to quit or give up? Then wait for his reply. It may take some time, but he will answer you. Don't give up before the answer comes. Be open to how he answers, remembering you are not in control of the process. When he shows you why, don’t just sit on it ask for strategy how to move forward or what he wants you to do next.
This is not a quick process; it will take time! But know that God is faithful and he cares about you!
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10