We all get discouraged from time to time. The question is: How do we deal with discouragement? Read on to find encouragement for the days you are discouraged!
I’ll be honest. Sometimes, I just get down and discouraged. It might be because my kids are misbehaving more than usual or our homeschool has gotten further behind schedule. Other times, it’s the simple fact I need to do yet another load of laundry. There are also days I get really discouraged as a blogger and wonder if I should just give the whole thing up.
Some days, all it takes is just one more sink full of dirty dishes, and I start wondering if I’ll ever get the hang of this ministry of homemaking.
What about you?
Do you struggle with discouragement?
If so, you’re not alone.
I find that one of the biggest reasons for discouragement in my own life is forgetting my purpose. I start judging myself or my ministry by others’ standards or expecting perfection instead of progress.
As a mom (or a teacher or a wife or a blogger or even just a Christian), when I find myself discouraged by my lack of results, I need to stop and remember my reasons.
I came across a jewel of encouragement in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 today. Read with me:
“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That one short verse reminded me of the reasons for the things I do every day and encouraged me in the effort. I believe it will encourage you, too.
It All Begins with Faith
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our busy-ness that we forget where it all begins. Why do I strive to teach my kids right from wrong? What’s the reason we homeschool? Why do I blog? Where did my calling come from?
Faith. It all begins with faith, but fortunately for us, it doesn’t end there.
You see, often we get a clear calling from God and respond in faith then go on our way to do the work ourselves, in our own strength.
But, look at what 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, “your work produced by faith.”Faith does the work. Actually, often, faith IS the work. Click To Tweet
After all, “we live by faith and not by sight.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)
When we consider the heroes of our faith, the ones listed and lauded in Hebrews 11, we have to remember it is their faith, not the work it produced, that God commended. We also have to realize that even though they had faith, the kind that produces works, they didn’t see all the results for which they hoped.
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” (Hebrews 11:39)
They had to keep hoping for it.
Hope Helps Us Overcome Discouragement
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Sometimes, we confuse hope with wishful thinking, but it’s so much more than that! Hope is “confident expectation.” It’s knowing that the right result will come…eventually.
It’s rooted in faith, but not faith in ourselves. Hope depends on God's faithfulness to his promises and to us. Click To Tweet
“That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
Just like the people outlined in Hebrews 11, we obey God because we believe him.
We do not have to fear failure because God’s word says that no one who hopes in Him will ever be put to shame. (Psalm 25:3)
Hope is powerful, even when we’re powerless.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Do you need strength today? Hope holds it out to you.
Labor Prompted by Love
When I think of the portrait of Abraham painted in Hebrews 11, I understand the faith that led his first footsteps toward the Promised Land. I’ve stepped out in faith a few times, too.
It’s not always hard to do, you know. When God’s voice is clear and his direction confirmed, stepping out in faith comes more naturally to believers.
It’s faithfully putting one foot in front of the other when the way isn’t so clear that’s difficult.
That’s the picture of Abraham and others that’s so inspiring to me. They kept walking even when they didn’t know the way.
Hope is a big part of the answer, but it isn’t the only one. They were human, too, after all. Their hearts lost hope like ours do, but love wouldn’t let them go.
When I read 1 Thessalonians 1:3, I am captured and convicted by four words: “labor prompted by love.”
If you’re a mom, just stop and soak those words in. Do you remember the pains of labor? How could you ever forget? What prompted you to push through it? What made 9 long months worth the wait?
It’s the one thing that inspires obedience when nothing else will.
After all, Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” (John 14:23)
Our obedience day to day is an expression of our love for Him, and “we love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
As believers, that’s the root of all we do. Everything else stems from it.
When we serve others, we are simply following the example Christ set for us. 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
When we share the gospel, “Christ’s love compels us.” (1 Corinthians 5:14)
In fact, everything we do should flow from love. That’s the lesson we learn in 1 Corinthians 13, isn’t it? It says:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)Even the dishes have meaning if I do them with love. Click To Tweet
3 Keys to Overcoming Discouragement
In light of faith, hope and love, how do we overcome discouragement? I think there are 3 essential keys.
#1 – Stand firm in faith.
Our faith will be tested. There’s really no way around it. Take heart, though, in James’ letter to the church, which says, “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.” (James 1:3-4)
I want to be mature, don’t you? Faith that isn’t tested doesn’t grow.
Don’t be deceived. Faith is a fight. A good one, according to 1 Timothy 6:12. It’s also imperative because “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9)
So, how do we do that? How can we stand firm in faith?
By remembering in who we put our faith!
You see, if my faith is in my abilities, I will fail so I have to put it in the one who never falters.
We can trust him because even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)
#2 – Hold on to Hope.
I know there are times when it seems foolish to hope. Sometimes, everything we see tells us not to believe what God has promised, but remember “hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)
The question is: do we have something to hope for?
Yes! Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
No matter what we’re facing, we can say with the author of Lamentations, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)
To hold on to hope, we have to believe that God will fulfill his promises. To believe that, we need to know what those promises are. That’s why studying God’s word is the key to having hope. After all, “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
#3 – Rely on Love
The basis of our faith and the source of our hope is love. God’s love to be exact. One of my favorite verses is 1 John 4:16, which says, “we know and rely on the love God has for us.”
Here’s the thing: we will fail. We’ll make mountains out of mole hills and a mess of motherhood.
But God doesn’t.
We can move forward with faith and obey, holding onto hope, because God never fails. Neither does his love for us.
When David gave Solomon the plans for God’s temple, he told him:
“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)
He’s not going to fail or forsake us either. After all, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippian 1:6)
How about you? How do you deal with discouragement? I’d love your feedback in the comments. Let’s encourage one another in faith!
One easy way to do that is by leaving a faith-filled link or two for our Encouraging Word Wednesday party below! I’d love to read and share them. Be sure to visit other bloggers and encourage them, too!