One of the biggest battles missionaries face on the field is discouragement. Whether it is with language, ministry, or other missionaries, discouragement seems to be a common enemy. Discouragement often leads us to respond unwisely to situations and people. We withdraw. We complain. We blame. We draw negative conclusions. We quit….or maybe we try to press on while still feeling discouraged (which is very difficult).
But this is not how God intended for us to go through life.
So, when we feel this way, what are we supposed to do? Some people might say “suck it up,” but for those of us that have had these kind of experiences, we know it is not that easy. We can, however, turn to God’s Word, because He has shown us how to battle discouragement.
One thing to remember- our circumstances and situations on earth should not be our source of joy and encouragement. The Christian should find these in The Lord.
Paul is a great example of how we can look to God to help us overcome discouragement. He was greatly used by God, but he had some rough times during his ministry. In fact, Paul needed some encouragement from time to time.
Acts 23:11 “The Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome”
The Apostle Paul was in a (potentially) very discouraging situation. Because of a false accusation, he was imprisoned by Roman soldiers in a fortress.
It looked like evil had won and his ministry for God was over; but God comes in the darkest of hoursto give us encouragement. God was not done using Paul to bring His name glory.
He encouraged Paul with:
Yet, here is a reminder to Paul that he was not alone. When everyone else forsakes us, God’s presence is a constant in the believer’s life.
One of the most precious promises of God is written in Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
His presence is always with us, and from it, we can draw encouragement. With God’s presence, you can endure any difficulty. It matters not who stands with you, or against you, because the Lord is by your side. Seek His abiding presence in your life.
2. His Promises – “…So must thou bear witness also at Rome.”
The Bible does not say Paul was feeling discouraged, but being in chains in a prison would cause me to wonder if my ministry was over. Even though we look forward to being with Christ in Heaven, we want to be used by Him while here on Earth, so thinking our service is done, could easily lead to discouragement. However, God reassured Paul he had more work to do.
Even if God doesn’t come and speak words assuring us of our future on earth, we have many other wonderful promises in His Word of our future in Heaven.
One of my favorites is John 14:2-3 “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
3. His commands – “…and said, Be of good cheer…”
Encouragement not only comes from God’s promises, but His commands as well.
We often look at commands as a burden, yet, commands are a source of encouragement, as well.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
This command is not to be a burden, but a way to receive encouragement. In order to give thanks, we look for the good in the situation. Even if we cannot see the good, we know through His word that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
When Paul is in bonds again, what is he able to write?
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Even though you are in bonds, have problems, or everyone is turned against you, rejoice!
“Be strong”, “fear not”, have “courage”; these are all commands for us to find encouragement in!
4. His commending – “… for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem…”
Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”
Words are very powerful; they can build us up, or tear us down. If we are already discouraged, it does not take much to bring someone down further. It also does not take much to use your words to encourage.
When we need those encouraging words, we just need to open this book and let Him speak to us!
Jesus knew of the discouragement the disciples were going to face when Jesus was taken to be crucified, so He gave them encouraging words beforehand, to remind them that HE has already overcome the world!
John 16:32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
God never promises us a care free life. In fact, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) As Christians, we should expect to find ourselves in circumstances that can lead to discouragement. That is why we must choose now how we will respond. Will we choose to embrace discouragement and pity ourselves, or will we turn to the Lord and His Word?
When we feel discouraged-when times seem dark-do not use this as an excuse to quit! Instead, use it as a reason to turn to the Lord.
It is through His power alone, that we can continue on even when we are walking through the valleys of darkness.
Hi! My name is Rachael and I am a child of God. I was saved from sin and all its bondage at the age of 21. I am married to an incredible man. He constantly challenges me to grow closer to my Saviour. We have three beautiful children that love the Lord. Currently, our family is preparing to go to Thailand as missionaries.