I say that several times while having a pity-party. Sometimes I think that I want to escape the endless routine of dishes, laundry, and mending. Life is just too much. Or the phone rings too often, or not often enough, or the responsibilities add up, or people don’t treat me right, or whatever the issue - the blame goes out and discouragement comes in.
In the middle of one of these pity-parties, I decided to tackle the topic of discouragement.
The first thought, just from looking at the word, is that a person who is “discouraged” must be the opposite of someone who “has courage.” A verse I’d memorized about courage came to mind, “The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1)
Hmm. That is interesting. People who have something on their conscience, who are guilty about something, can feel afraid, even when there is nothing to be afraid of. But what does that verse have to do with me?
My mind returned to discouragement . . . my lack of courage. Where does it come from? When I feel like fleeing or running away, is there something to run from? Are there newer, bigger problems, or just the same old ones? I had to admit that this time the problems were the same as always, or at least similar.
Then I asked myself, are there more difficulties than usual? Again, I had to admit not. But the same problems didn’t bother me yesterday.
That verse from Proverbs was bugging me. But discouragement isn’t fear, I argued. So I looked up discouragement in the dictionary. It said, “to weaken the courage or lessen the confidence . . . ” Sounded like fear to me.
It is amazing the excuses that I came up with before I decided to quit making excuses. I needed to examine myself and see if there was some guilt that made me feel like running away from home. Had I allowed something in my life that God called wicked? Sure enough, it was easy to recall, as soon as I was willing to remember . . . I had responded sinfully to someone, and needed to put that right. My desire to flee was rooted in me, not in my problems.
It is never fun apologizing to God or to people, but God always forgives when we genuinely confess, and people are usually gracious enough to say something like “I never even noticed, but I forgive you anyway.” Both responded faithfully.
The feelings of wanting to quit left immediately. It hurt to hit them at their roots, but the discomfort of admitting I was wrong was worth the results that followed.
Being discouraged, feeling sorry for myself, and wanting to quit are not my idea of fun. In fact, I enjoy my work, even enjoy tackling the variety of problems that come my way.
Being bold as a lion is exciting too. It makes pity-parties lose all their charm.