By Dr. Charles Stanley
Watch Overcoming Discouragement video.
Scripture: 1 Samuel 30:1-6
I. Introduction: Discouragement is a common response to the challenges of life. Even David, who experienced great spiritual triumphs, had tremendous emotional struggles. In Psalm 42:11, he wrote: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him.” The king’s reaction must have been similar after Ziklag, his home at the time, was destroyed. David was able to find victory in that situation, in part because he knew how to overcome discouragement.
II. David’s Example: While David and his fellow warriors were away, the Amalekites raided their town, burned everything, and captured the women and children. In response, David “strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Sam. 30:6). In other words, he sought encouragement. He turned to God, who promised him victory if he would pursue the attackers (1 Sam. 30:8).
III. Discouragement is:
A. Universal. Almost everyone has been dismayed at one time or another.
B. Recurring. You may overcome discouragement one week, only to face it again the next.
C. Contagious. Watch out for those who want to pull you down by indulging in negativity and self-pity.
D. Unpredictable. You never know when it will strike you or a loved one.
E. Temporary. It will pass if you respond correctly.
III. Discouragement differs from disappointment. When our expectations aren’t met, we feel disappointed. But discouragement, a feeling of despair and despondency, is a choice. We can choose to remain dejected or determine to work through our feelings and overcome them.
IV. The Causes of Discouragement
A. Inability to please others
B. Physical or verbal abuse
C. Unanswered prayer
D. Lack of proper recognition
F. Financial pressure
G. Health problems
H. Unexplained adversity
I. Feelings of worthlessness
V. The Consequences of Discouragement
A. Divided attention—If you are discouraged, you may not be able to work wholeheartedly.
B. Placing blame—When you feel down, be careful not to dwell on the wrongs of others.
C. Anger and depression—Unless you address the inner roots of discouragement, you will never overcome negative feelings.
D. Estrangement—People push others away by constantly grumbling.
E. Loss of confidence—Every aspect of your life will suffer when you feel unsure of yourself.
F. Negative spirit—Don’t rehash painful events.
G. Unwise decisions—Discouragement can cloud your judgment. By working through your feelings first, you can then make a careful, godly decision.
H. Spiritual drift—Depression is fertile ground for seeds of doubt.
VI. The Cure for Discouragement
A. Pride. Some put their trust in themselves and pursue relationships, accomplishments, or possessions instead of a relationship with the Father.
1. Look within yourself. Ask, Why am I discouraged?
2. Look up. God has the ability to rescue you from harmful attitudes.
3. Look back. Don’t dwell on hurtful things in the past. Instead, think about God’s faithfulness to deliver you.
4. Look ahead. Focus on what the Lord is doing now in your life. Be encouraged by what He has planned for the future.
B. Have the right response. Responding correctly to discouragement involves several things.
1. Rest. Physical and emotional exhaustion often lead to discouragement.
2. Reorganize your life. In other words, evaluate your use of time, energy, and other resources. Make sure you’re doing the right things in the right way.
3. Resolve to trust God. Believe that He is in control (Ps. 103:19), loves you, and will never leave you (Heb. 13:5). He can turn adversity into something good.
4. Resist discouragement. Ask God to reveal the best response to difficulty. You will be amazed at the difference a positive attitude makes.
VII. Conclusion: Are you tired of being discouraged? You don’t have to stay that way. Whether or not the situation changes, you can experience joy, peace, and contentment. For the believer, circumstances don’t have to dictate emotions. Allow Scripture to permeate your mind and heart. Discouragement will lose its foothold, and you will become joyous and fruitful again.