Five Steps to Cope with Discouragement
Even the strongest and most faith-filled people feel discouraged at one point in their lives. Here are five helpful tips to cope with discouragement.
1) Acknowledge the fact that you feel discouraged
Then you will be in a position to take action against the negative emotion. Stop thinking that staunch Christians are the ones who never have discouraging moments. You are not alone as we all experience discouragement.
2) Pay attention to your body
There is an undeniable connection between our mind and body. In the Bible, God took care of Elijah’s body first by feeding him with ravens and then dealt with his other issues. When you feel disappointed and discouraged, it may help to rest so that you may feel re-energized. There is also research that shows physical activity can improve your sense of well-being. Pay attention to what your body needs.
3) Keep your thoughts in check
How we think as Christians determines our ability to cope with situations. Philippians 4:8 teaches us to think truthfully so that we can mature as believers. 2 Corinthians 10:5 teaches us to think in obedience to Christ.
Every one of us tries to analyze the situations in our lives. We want to understand why things happen the way they do. As we do the analysis, it is important to review and check the truth about our beliefs in God, others and even ourselves. The story you come up with when you are discouraged may add to your misery. For example Elijah came up with a story which he thought was true, however, much of it was false. His thoughts made him feel worse according to 1 Kings 19.
Jeremiah also believed in his version of events about God which was actually false. The story in his mind was wrong, and that is why he ended up losing hope in God. Once he started changing his heart and mind about God, his hope in God was restored and his feelings of disappointment and discouragement disappeared. His circumstances remained the same, but his outlook changed. (Lamentations 3).
4) Teach yourself to view life in two perspectives
In Romans 12:2, Apostle Paul teaches Christians to be transformed by the renewal of mind. He means that we should do away with the past way of thinking and adopt a new way of thinking. We can accept the current situation, and know for sure that God has a purpose and a reason as to why things are the way they are. Life may be difficult at the moment, but God has a purpose from an eternal perspective.
Paul is honest when he talks about his temporary agony. He admits that he is pressed hard on all sides, struck down, perplexed and persecuted yet he did not feel abandoned because he taught himself to see life from an eternal perspective. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-18, he says that we should not lose heart. We should focus not on what is visible but on the invisible, because the visible is temporary but the invisible is eternal.
Paul remained in agony, but he did not let discouragement take over understanding that the purposes of God were in action. You can look at Philippians 1:12 for another example.
5) Stick close to God and his word
Life might be difficult at the moment and people are not always trustworthy. We often don’t understand God’s plan, but we need to stick close to him for encouragement. Prophet Naham in Naham 1:7 speaks about the day we feel troubled and he tells us that “the lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, he is aware of those who trust in him”. A close relationship with God helps us to withstand discouragement and disappointment. In Psalms 27 the psalmist says that he would have despaired if not for the belief that he would see God in the land of the living.
One final important tip on how to deal with a negative feeling is to replace it with a positive feeling. The Bible in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 teaches us to give thanks in everything, because whatever is happening is the will of God. Chase out discouragement with gratitude. However bad the situation is, look for things for which you can be grateful to God.