It’s interesting that the root for the words, “discourage” and “encourage” is the word courage, which traces to the Latin root for “heart.” So when we are discouraged, this literally means, “away from the heart”. And encourage, by contrast, means “into the heart”. But the common ingredient for both of the words, encourage & discourage, has to do with the heart.
So let’s think about this: what happens in my heart is only known between God and me. People can observe the external results of that internal status, but the state of my heart and what happens there is known most clearly by God. Maybe this is why Solomon said, in Proverbs 4:23, that we should guard our hearts, since this is where the wellspring of life starts. With this verse in mind, let’s be certain that we are keeping our hearts wide open to God’s presence because this is how we can live in a state of encouragement rather than being discouraged by experiences, conversations and various other challenges that can arise. Choose to live with God’s presence in your heart, encouraged and deeply loved!
This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!
I hate bad news. I don’t like bad reports from the doctor, I don’t like getting bad report cards from my kids & I don’t like hearing discouraging stuff. But it happens, no matter how much we plug our ears, distract ourselves or attempt to deny what we hear. So what to do?
Here are some helpful suggestions for when you get bad news:
Face it – denial of bad news only makes it worse. Romans 4:19 says that Abraham faced the reality of his aged body, but didn’t weaken in his faith
Get wisdom – life improves with wisdom but deteriorates with the absence of wisdom. So ask God for wisdom on how to handle the bad news – James 1:5
Faith focus – bad news can become debilitating if we don’t keep our focus on God & His ability to do the impossible – Luke 1:37
Pray more – when I get bad news, it’s easy for me to worry. Let’s encourage each other to pray more than we worry – Ps 55:22
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who’s struggling with bad news!
I just finished taping the video curriculum for my book, Heavenly Help. This is noteworthy because I taped it the first time in August last year. That attempt was an exercise in frustration from start to finish. I was still recovering from a concussion that I suffered from a snowboarding accident, there were all kinds of technical difficulties, we had production challenges & it just wasn’t good. Today is an entirely different experience & heaps more effective!!
This encouraged me to remember the value of persistence & not giving up when I get discouraged. Be encouraged! Just because you try something & it doesn’t work, doesn’t mean you should automatically quit & give up. Some things require some persistence & trying again 🙂
In my efforts to always grow & Improve, sometimes I can get discouraged. This happens when I continue to focus on weaknesses & mistakes at the expense of looking at progress.
The truth is that we are all growing. Sometimes we see massive progress & sometimes the progress is microscopic. But let’s celebrate progress, regardless of the size!
You’ve come a long way, so be encouraged!! And remind yourself that the good work that God has started, He will continue & complete – Philippians 1:6 🙂
I’m an affirmation junkie, almost to making it snare, so I have to be careful about this. As long as I’m careful, compliments can be really energizing & very helpful. I saw this yesterday when my daughter made her first car drive with me. I knew that I needed to keep my own jitters to myself & I also told my boys to keep quiet, as they rode in the backseat. So I looked for everything positive that she was doing & then applauded her for those specific things. She kept her speed down, stayed in the middle of the lane, used her turn signal well & became more comfortable with the break. Of course she was nervous, but she did well – a sigh of relief 🙂
Seems to me that when we find ourselves needing some affirmation, it’s a good indicator that we need to start giving more affirmation! We reap what we sow 🙂
I just started reading Job & I was reading the part where God & Satan were chatting about Job. What an interesting conversation! Makes me consider that maybe they chat about us as well, from time to time. If you would be curious to know what might be said between them about you, don’t get nervous. I’m quite confident, based on Jesus’ atoning work, that God is looking on you w great favor, maybe even bragging about you!! You can also trust that the devil’s efforts haven’t changed throughout history – he’s still looking for some way to bring you down, talking smack.
Based on this dialogue, we just need to continuously decide that our ears are tuned into God’s voice – He affirms you, believes in you & most importantly, loves you. The other voice is nothing but deception, smack & destruction.
Sure, we all need to grow, improve & do better, but Gods voice always applauds while the devil always jeers & discourages. You’re not a loser!!