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You can Conquer discouragement

   By Richard Rice Page 1 2 Matthew 24:14 19??

Discouragement is one of the most powerful and devastating emotions known to man. Like the withering effect of a scorching wind, it can leave us weak, helpless, fruitless and lifeless.

Discouragement is a negative force that stifles growth, drains enthusiasm, inhibits drive, disorients one's mind and leads to failure in life. Of all the causes of failure, discouragement is probably the most difficult to overcome.

Ironically, discouragement is oftentimes elusive and hard to trace. We can readily identify some causes such as sickness, Criticism rejection, loss of a job, etc. But other causes seem to appear out of nowhere.

In this discussion I plan to isolate some of the hidden causes of discouragement and offer solutions that will work. Once we understand the subtle workings of this enemy, we will be much better prepared to cope with it.


What Is Discouragement?

To begin let's examine the word "discouragement" itself. The prefix "dis" means: without, opposite, deprive, exclude, expel, or absence. Discouragement, then, means without courage! It means to be disheartened — lacking the courage to try or go on.

Here's where many people come up short. When problems strike they become fearful, think the worst will happen, run from their troubles and leave the results to chance. They may be weak willed, lazy minded or simply afraid to face reality. They are afraid that they will not measure up and eventually fail. Obviously this approach only leads to more discouragement because nothing was done to remove the cause — the problem still exists.

Let's now look at some of the underlying, hidden causes behind this destructive emotion.


Satan the Primary Instigator

Satan, the Devil, is the foremost cause behind discouragement. He is man's greatest foe. To overthrow man and wear him down, Satan has saturated this world and all of its social systems with diabolical lusts and venom. Like a devious snake studying its prey, Satan watches and waits to ensnare man in his weakest moment when he least expects it or when he's caught off guard.

More often as not, feelings of guilt, shame, failure, and despair are direct attacks of Satan. He relentlessly tries to undermine man's faith in God and destroy his feelings of self worth. His objective is to cause us to lose heart, think ourselves inferior, throw in the toweled give up, and forsake God.

The Apostle Paul says that Satan works in the hearts and minds of people. "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now Worked in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). This means that he's constantly trying to get at us — ". . . because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5:8).

Our strongest defense against Satan's power is first to recognize who he is (our greatest enemy) and also turn to God for help to resist Satan's evil, negative thoughts and moods. Powerful resolve and firm commitment to stand steadfast against Satan will drive him out of your life. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

Next time depressing moods come to mind for no apparent reason, stop and think. Satan may be seeking a door of entrance.


Mountains we Face

Another major cause for discouragement of some people is when goals and tasks seem too big, awesome and overwhelming, even virtually impossible to reach.

These people become frightened with the complexities of life and wonder if they can make the grade. It seems there is so much to do, so many problems to overcome, so many bad habits to break, so much knowledge to learn that there's not enough time to do it all. The Kingdom itself seems so ethereal and far away, that its future reality is hard to grasp in everyday life.

It's like trying to scale a rugged mountain which towers into the sky. The climber sees himself, weak and small, at its base. His goal is to reach the top — but the summit is high and far away. The footing is unsure — not to mention unseen obstacles along the way. The journey is threatening — foreboding.

On the spiritual plane, people look at their shortcomings with misgivings and doubts. They see in their mind's eye the giant goal God has placed before them — that of becoming sons of God in His Kingdom. One of Satan's devices is to negatively use this great goal to cause doubt and apprehension in our minds — the "climb" is too steep, or the "path" is too rough. The tendency is to give up and quit before one even starts.

But such individuals, who decide to "stay on level ground," hoping that that will solve their problems, have failed already by exerting no effort and standing still.

The key lies in the meaning of faith and courage. When one steps forward and faces all obstacles, he learns a great lesson: Not only does he advance, but accomplishment is easier than he thought.


Discouragement Comes from Having No Goals and Failing to Grow

While some people become fearful at the enormity of their goals and responsibilities, there are countless scores of others who get depressed because they have planned no goals at all. They are lazily drifting along, whiling away their lives. They are like a ship at sea, jostled by the waves with no ports in sight.

Deep inside such people is a lingering, nagging frustration. They're downcast and miserable because they are accomplishing nothing worthwhile.

The reason for this type of discouragement: Cod created in man a desire to grow, a desire to achieve, a desire to succeed. Growth is the principle that governs life. It's a principle that you see manifested in all of creation. From the sprouting of a seed, to the birth of a child, all life starts small but grows through many stages of development until it reaches maturity. Life is an active, ongoing process — forever reaching higher levels of growth and usefulness. Just to observe the world around us will prove that God who created and sustains all things is a creating, progressing, and dynamic God.

And the Creator placed within man the same creative desires to grow and achieve!

Whenever anyone fails to grow in character and develop his life, he experiences a deep sense of emptiness, futility, and failure.

How vital it is then to embark on a program of setting positive goals in order to grow and be happy, and to lead a rich and productive life.


Bring Goal Attainment into Each Day

We need to think on a daily basis of reaching our goals. This will prevent us from being overwhelmed with the "bigness" of our tasks and reduce them to steps we can easily manage. By approaching our goals one step at a time, we will grow in courage and confidence.

Success breeds success. One step leads to another until finally our goals are reached. The joy and pleasure that comes from succeeding will serve as a stimulus to push us forward.

The most rational way to move a mountain size task is simply to shovel it away one scoopful at a time. It may be a huge mountain that will require a lot of scoopfuls and many hours of diligent effort, but each shovelful will bring us that much closer to success.

The key is to begin. You have to start before you can finish — and be determined to follow through to the end.

Remember, it's standing still — failing to grow — that causes discouragement.

Once you start moving toward your goals, you will lay down a track record of success. As you continue to progress even if only a step or two at a time, you will gain confidence and self-respect. Thus with a success pattern firmly established, you will eventually achieve a full and satisfying life.

You will no doubt meet hardships and obstacles on your journey. But those who are positively determined will look on obstacles as challenges or opportunities — not as roadblocks that stop them cold. They become bolder, wiser and stronger with each new "challenge" or "opportunity."

Take a step forward with renewed determination, and before you know it, you will have reached your glorious quest.