Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
Every single human on the planet is created with special and unique desires. God uses desires to direct our lives. He uses the very thing that makes us come alive to direct our lives. Why? Because He wants you to manifest His glory. You manifest His glory when you are aligned with who and what you were created to be in this life. He has created you for good works, wether thats being a stay at home mom or a CEO of a fortune 500 company. Wether its being a full time preacher or a business man. All that matters is that you are being true to you. God has given us these dreams to ultimately express His Kingdom in and through our lives. There is nothing more glorious than to see someone releasing their sound so to speak.
There are many things that hinder our dreams but the one we are going after today is discouragement. Discouragement is an enemy to all things righteous. It is a foul thing that has no place in a believers heart. Discouragement is a lie. It baits us in with reason and circumstance, seeking to skew our perspective. Why? So He can deter us from our mission in life.
What if I told you that no matter what happens in life you can always have glistening hope? But what about hope being deferred making the heart sick? Well I am glad you asked. :)
See, most of us think that if we do not get the thing we are hoping for than our hearts get sick. A sick heart looks like depression, anxiety, fear, and so on. We have all been there and its no fun! I tell you today that we can have hope even it the most horrific circumstance. I am not talking about positive thinking, I am talking about KINGDOM!
If our hope is in The Lord and The Lord alone we will never lose hope. Hope is the confident expectation of good. The Lord promises that we will have shining hope if it is placed in the proper place, HIMSELF.
I made a list of 5 ways to overcome discouragement so that you can see your desires fulfilled which ultimately means His desires are being fulfilled in and through you.
1. Be honest with yourself and God.
Recently God has been taking me to such deep and sometimes uncomfortable places of intimacy with Him, myself, and others.
In my life I have always been the one that has it all together, the one who seemingly has all the answers. I have a decent personality and it is easy to hide behind it sometimes. When things are tough I always see the bright side of things. However, there are many times where I stuffed the pain instead of expressing it. My old self used to pretend that everything is ok when on the inside I was dying. That is one of the weaknesses of being an optimistic person. We can sometimes ignore the problem because we are so positively focused. I have learned however, that this isn't always the best way to respond...
One day while in worship, God startled me by saying something quite shocking. He told me, "I want to see you naked."
I know that sounds weird at first but I knew what it meant. And to be honest I believe He said it like that just to shock me. :)
What He was saying was that He wanted me to come to Him just as I am. For me, I have been one that ignores the negative feelings. Instead of dealing with the pain I would just declare truths about God seeking to get my mind onto more "important" or "spiritual" things. I would try to worship Him with a smile on my face when on the inside I felt like crap.
So when He told me He wanted to see me naked I instantly knew what He meant. I knew that I have been hiding emotionally from myself and from Him. Just like Adam in the garden I felt like hiding my true self for the fear of rejection, punishment, and shame. I realized that instead of coming to Jesus fully me (naked) I was coming to Him with a facade (fig leaves.)
Realizing this was very freeing yet very challenging. It began a process of complete honesty with Holy Spirit.
One day while driving, I was just completely bare bones honest with God, (as if He didn't already know what I was feeling.) I confessed that I doubted His provision, I doubted His love, I doubted this and that about Him. As I did this I began to cry and cry. It felt so wonderful and painful all at the same time. In that moment I felt such a wave of His love comfort me. I knew He was proud of me for taking what was in the dark and placing it in the light.
After this encounter I felt so much more real as a person. I felt this new found confidence. Instead of this insecure feeling I felt like a real man. :)
So I encourage you, be completely honest with Him. He can handle it. It isn't negative faith if you are struggling with something. Its ok to be real. Its ok to realize that you have nothing but doubts right now. He will take your ashes and give you back beauty. Its the divine exchange!
2. Refuse to be offended at God.
This is the age old trick the devil tries to use against us. "Did God really say?"
He comes to us not when everything is good but when our circumstances don't line up with what heaven says. He comes during times of testing and trial and brings accusation against God by thoughts like, "see, God really isn't good all the time," " You should just try and take care of this yourself" "You can't trust God, He really isn't that faithful, He doesn't have your best interest in mind." Blah blah blah, its all a bunch of non-sense.
These are all tools and plots of the enemy to try and remove you from a place of faith. They try to suck you into a place of doubt, unbelief, and offense.
If he can get you offended at God then he can cut off the supply line of grace into your life.
Offense can creep it at many times throughout our lives.
One particular time is when we our pursuing our dreams. In my experience it has been in the area of healing and evangelism.
Early in my days when I would pray for people out on the streets and they didn't get healed I would get discouraged. I believed that everyone should get healed. I believed that if I prayed and laid hands on them they would get better right away. I remember one time I was on a plane ride to go on vacation to Hawaii. There was this nice day next to me in extreme pain. She had been in a severe accident and for years she has suffered from a bad back. I prayed for her and nothing seemingly happened. It was kind of embarrassing for me because I guess I cared what people thought more than I should have.
For a while I got offended at God. I felt like He should have healed her. I had the nerve to think I had more compassion than God Himself. I felt waves of doubt and unbelief come over me and I didn't want to pray for people anymore. I thought it was all fake and I basically gave up.
After my pity party I realized that the lack is never on Gods end. I came to the conclusion that I didn't have to understand it all. In this place of not understanding I resolved to let my beliefs be shaped by Jesus and His word alone. No longer did I worry about the result, nor did I let my experience dictate what I believed.
We must never let anything but God and His word determine our belief systems. He must have the final say in our lives for He is the Spirit of Truth.
We must realize that it is the enemy that seeks to get us offended, confused, and distraught about what God's not doing. Instead of falling helplessly into the devils hands, rise up in the truth. Understand that God is good all the time and you will have a peace that surpasses understanding.
Because of this breakthrough I now I feel more than ever the passion to proclaim the good news to everyone I see! I know that when I pray something always happens. I know that Jesus healed EVERYONE and I am not stopping until I see what He said is possible. As a result of thinking like Jesus I now see more people healed on a regular basis. I also see people that don't get healed when I pray for them. Either way, I know whats true and that will never change!
3. Feed your spirit on testimonies
The testimony prophecies and declares that Jesus will do it again. It reveals that Jesus is no respecter of persons, what He did for one person He will do for another. (Revelation 19:10)
When discouragement settles in that means that our circumstances have become bigger than our God, and thats never a good place to live. We become preoccupied with what He hasn't done instead of what He has done. The negative circumstance begins to dominate our spirit. It becomes all that we can think about. This is what you call a stronghold. But praise Jesus we have been given divine power to destroy them. (2 Cor 10:4)
The testimony is one of those weapons.
Hearing about the good works of Christ in a persons life refreshes our perspective. It fixes our hearts back on the goodness of Jesus. If our heart and perspective is focused on Jesus than we are good to go. But if our perspective is off than our whole life is out of alignment.
In Matthew 6:22 Jesus says, "“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" The eye represents our perspective, or the way we are seeing and perceiving life. If our eye is not seeing properly than our whole being is in trouble. But if we are seeing clearly through the eyes of Christ then life is good! That means that no matter what trial we are going through we can still be filled with joy in the midst it.
Whenever our perspective gets contaminated its time to bust out the testimonies. Feed on the glorious works that God has done in and through your life. All of a sudden you will find yourself remembering all the amazing things He has done and your eye will be good again. :)
Spiritual warfare takes place at the speed of thought. The enemy comes to us in the form of lies seeking to change our beliefs. He comes with little thoughts like, "your parents all struggled with finances, what makes you think you can be any different?" He comes to places we have experienced something opposite of THE TRUTH. If he can get us to partner with our circumstances he can take us out of a place of faith.
This is why we worship. It refocuses our eye on who God is. When we see Him in His likeness everything else gets put into place. I remember one time where I was just really worried about my business and its financial condition. I brought this anxiety in with me to church. During our corporate worship I caught a glimpse of Jesus in the throne room. I felt and perceived His supremacy. I saw myself looking down upon the earth because I was seated with Him in heaven. Instantly all my worries dissipated, I knew that nothing was impossible. I felt this confidence and joy wash over me as if I just took a Holy Ghost shower.
This is what worship does to a soul. It fills us up with unspeakable glory. I tell you, we must stay in the river of His presence, it is the safest place to be. We must spend every waking moment drinking deep of His love. It refreshes the soul and delights the heart.
When we worship The King we are locking eyes with The Lion. In this gaze we receive His strength boldness. It is kind of hard to be discouraged when you are standing in the presence of one so Majestic!
5. Go and help someone in need
Much of the time we deepen our depression and discouragement because we have turned introspective. We take on this victim mentality that feels sorry for itself. Our perspective gets skewed because all we see is how crappy our circumstances are. It becomes all about us instead of abiding in love which doesn't seek its own. (1 Cor 13:5)
During these times of being in a funk the best thing we can do is get outside of ourselves and go help someone in need. It helps us regain proper perspective for our lives. It re-aligns us with our purpose in life which is to be a mighty flame of love!
It really is true when we say it is more blessed to give than to receive. When we give away the very thing that we need we somehow find ourselves filled up. Its the way The Kingdom of God works, instead of having less after you give, you actually have more.
It is often times the hardest thing to do but it is worth it. It is only hard because we are holding on to our self. When we serve we let go of self and we manifest Christ. This is the place of true fulfillment!
For example, I remember one time I was going through some things in my life where I was just feeling depressed and discouraged. I forgot what caused it but all I know was that I was in a funk for a good 2 days. I walked over to this coffee shop and had a bite to eat. I felt like this guy was highlighted to me across the room. I really didn't want to go prophecy over him or anything but I decided to suck it up. I ended up sitting at his table speaking life into him for a good 15 minutes. Everything I said was a confirmation to him and he was greatly encouraged.
After this encounter I felt so connected to The Fathers Heart. I cried because I was so overwhelmed with gratitude. The fact that my life can inspire others overwhelmed me. Ahh what a privilege it is to be a Christian!
So there it is! If discouragement comes knocking at your door, you are equipped to overcome!
Your turn! What are some of your favorite ways to overcome discouragement? Comment below! :)