What to do with discouragement

I’ve been increasingly discouraged over the past two months or so, with a few different factors building over that time.

When this time first started, I said that the events happening weren’t in my control; all I could do was continue to be obedient and trust God.

To be honest, I think I’ve kinda forgot about that over the past month.

I’ve allowed a combination of circumstances to drag me down, and forgotten that it’s still my job to just keep praying and being obedient. Being glum doesn’t help anyone.

I have a few friends who really encouraged me on Monday night, and that really helped jump-start me again.

They reminded me that expectations don’t matter, but joyful obedience does.

It reminds me of one of the last things Jesus said to Peter:

When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.

John 21:21-22 NIV (emphasis mine)

Waiting, Self-Doubt and Heroes

You are wasting your time. No one will see or appreciate your work. You’re failing.

Photo by Alex E. Proimos, sourced from everystockphoto.com.
Photo by Alex E. Proimos, sourced from everystockphoto.com.

Even though I haven’t been consciously thinking those discouraging thoughts, they’ve definitely been on my mind over the past few weeks. Self-doubt has been infecting me. Quietly hovering on the edge of my subconscious, a general feeling of failure and foreboding has been like that sticky black goo that covers Peter Parker in Spiderman 3. Strong, dark, evil, and hard to get rid of.

Why?

Part of it is my addiction to affirmation. God’s weaning me off it, and this novel-writing venture is certainly stretching me. It will be a very long time before an agent, editor or reader tells me, “Good job!”. In the meantime I must plot, research, write, read, re-write, edit, edit, edit, re-write and so it goes on.

To put it simply, the waiting is frustrating. Alone at my computer, sometimes I feel insignificant, unworthy and foolish.

But then God reminded me of something I should have known all along: everyone has to wait.

Abraham stayed childless for decades. Joseph served time first as a slave, then as a prisoner. David was chased from cave to cave. Even Jesus spent years building tables and chairs. I’ll bet they were all tempted to feel forgotten, useless or alone. Yet when the time was right they founded nations, ruled empires and saved the universe.

The book of James opens with the words, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds”. (James 1:2 NIV, emphasis mine.) Pure joy? That’s right. Because God is teaching me perseverance; giving me maturity. Same as He did for them.

It’s a little humbling. Suddenly I almost feel proud that God is asking me to wait. I’m sharing in an experience that all the greatest men and women of faith have gone through. It’s an honour, really.

And so is God’s reminder in Psalm 139 that I’m not alone. Even when it’s been just me and my computer all day, God’s actually paying pretty close attention.

Blog 136 O LORD, You have searched me

and You know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

You know it completely, O LORD.

Psalm 139:1-4 NIV

 

How about you? How do you feel when you’re stuck waiting? What do you do about it?