The Trap of Discouragement

St. Mark's Church, Petersville, MD Photo BJ Gabrielsen
St. Mark’s Church, Petersville, MD
Photo BJ Gabrielsen

Do you ever feel as if you are stuck in discouragement? Do you feel that you are facing a condition (such as prostate cancer) alone and that God Himself and family or friends truly do not understand your situation? If so, you are not alone. In the Old Testament biblical book of the prophet Habakkuk, the prophet writes “how long O Lord, will I call for help and You will not hear? I cry out to you….,  yet You do not save.” (Habakkuk 1:2).

At some point, everyone experiences dashed hopes. Perhaps a PSA test did not produce the result you had hoped for or as in my own case, a cancer detected early and removed surgically returned (a biochemical recurrence) dashing hopes for a quick cure. Disappointment – an emotional response to a failed expectation – is the normal initial reaction. But allowed to linger, it can turn into discouragement, which hovers like a dense cloud. When that’s the case, there is no sense of joy or contentment regardless of what you do.

The circumstances that trigger these emotions may be unavoidable, but how we as men respond to them is a choice. Either we can let sadness overwhelm our soul or we can face the situation with courage and bring it before the One who can help.

Living in discouragement will divide the mind, making it hard to focus on anything besides our pain, apprehension and dashed hopes. Then as anger becomes habitual and desired results do not happen, we may blame ourselves or God Himself.

Frustration and disappointment that isn’t handled well may develop into despair, which in turn can estrange us from those around us who do not enjoy the company of someone who is bitter and defeated. Finally, in the fog of discouragement and isolation, we can make poor decisions, attitudes and actions based on crushed emotions and expectations instead of truth. Obviously, this self-destructive path is NOT God’s best for us.

Though we all face disappointment from time to time in many areas not just those that are health-related, those whose faith is in God and His Son Jesus are not to wallow in it. Instead, God wants us to trust Him with everything – even unmet expectations and deep sadness. Remember to us as God’s children, there is a divine purpose for everything He allows to touch our lives. As Romans 8:28 states, “and we know that God causes all things to work together for good” (even if we don’t see it at the time), to those who love God who are called according to His purpose.” For 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).

If you cannot relate to these admonitions, or if you are unsure that you have a personal relationship with God and therefore cannot trust Him, you can know Him intimately. See the following link.

(A portion of the text above was excerpted from the July 11th, 2016 In Touch devotional written by Dr. Charles Stanley.)

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