When Facing Trials & Discouragement

by - October 22, 2019

"In this world, you will have tribulation", Jesus tells us in John 16:33. Other translations use the word "trouble".

It doesn't take a genius to know that life is full of struggles both big and small. For the Christian, even more so, because we now we fight against the current of worldliness. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan is a beautiful illustration of the hardships we will encounter on our Christian walk.

And yet, Jesus then says in the same verse, "take heart, for I have overcome the world." So while we will face situations that will frustrate us, break our hearts and discourage us, we can leave the state of sorrow and discouragement on the strength and victory of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do Not Remain Downcast

So whether you have a difficult situation at work, you messed up as a parent, your marriage is hurting, or you can't find a Biblicaly sound church - we believe in a sovereign God who works all things for a purpose and for our good (Romans 8:28).

That doesn't mean there isn't a time to mourn and feel downcast, to feel upset and discouraged (Ecclesiastes 3). But we are not to remain there.

The Christian life is marked by joy and peace that surpasses understanding. Regardless of what we face, we strive on with hope in our hearts because of the power of the gospel, because of our hope in eternity. There is a reason we have sung "It is well with my soul" for hundreds of years, because the words ring true.

So how are we deal with hardships and trials in a way that we don't remain in a state of wallowing and discouragement? I think there are four things that we see clearly in the Bible that answer that question.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46:1-3

4 Things to Do when Facing Trials

Quick disclosure: I am listing these actions in a general order, but it is not a strict prescription. Whether we turn to God through the Word or through prayer first will vary by person and situation, the point is that we turn to GOD FIRST. Now let's get into this.

1. Turn to the Word

Not only is this the first step, it is something that should be on-going during your trial or time of discouragement (and daily life, really). We are forgetful by nature, and our emotions can really do a number on our minds. When we feel overwhelmed, confused or unsure; open the Word of God. It is our anchor, our source of truth. There we find reminder after reminder of who God is. How he cares for those who call upon His name, how he is our comfort and strength and He is in control.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 

2. Pray

Prayer is a sign of faith in our sovereign God and trust in his good and perfect will. Like reading the word, this is another on-going behavior for the believer. This may be the first action you take when hit with trial or discouragement. Depending on the situation, also depending on your maturity or familiarity with scripture, you may be ready to hit the floor with your knees and that is a very good thing.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

If not, you will be after spending some time in the Bible. With knowledge from scriptures, our hearts can now be led to approach God with less confusing or heated emotions. We may still feel overwhelmed and a little lost, but holding on to the anchor of truth, we can bring our issues to God and humbly ask for what we need - whether forgiveness, wisdom, clarity, guidance, peace, etc.

3. Connect

For those deeply painful trials or sorrowful discouragement, connecting with a fellow believer can be crucial (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:25). A spouse, a parent, an elder or pastor, whoever it is, find someone to share what is going on. Be sure they are biblically sound and mature, so they can offer you advice, passages of scripture that you didn't think of, prayer and most important: perspective.

"Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future." Proverbs 19:20

We can be so wrapped up in our own little bubble, that it distorts our perspective and we lose sight of godly truth and wisdom. A mentor, accountability partner, or close spiritual friend is sometimes necessary to help break out of the bubble and give us clarity to know how to move forward.

4. Praise

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

There is a reason this isn't the first step. It takes some time for the truth of God's word to filter our thoughts, emotions and perspective before we can then turn around and praise God either for or in spite of the situation. With a heavenly and eternal view on life and our troubles, we can't help but praise God. In fact, the more trials you go through, the more you see how God was with you through the valley, the more you will be able to testify to the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Ultimately, whatever is causing us to be discouraged, disappointed, or sorrowful - we know that we must find the remedy not in ourselves, not in the world, but in God. In obedience and faith, we can face trials with peace, hope and ultimately joy.

What is a verse or passage you turn to when you face discouragement? Who do you talk to when you need to get out of your own head and redirected to the mind of Christ? Share in the comments below or ask a question if you have any! For daily faith and motherhood content, be sure to follow along on Instagram!

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