Discouraged to Encourage

A friend of mine made such an interesting connection when studying Ezra 4. She said the 3 words from that chapter kept sticking out in her mind, as if God was highlighting them for her: discouraged, futile, and afraid. It was like a lightbulb went off in her head. That’s exactly what happens to her when the enemy is attacking her. This is what happens when the enemy attacks me or you.

The next day, I found myself coming back to these three words. I decided to dig in and break it down in a practical sense.

We get discouraged. This can look like many different thoughts: It’s been a year already… You should be so much further along by now… OR Why do you bother trying?… You’ll never be as good as her… You’ll never get it right. Discouragement isn’t pretty.

We get futile. Now, y’all, I have a Master’s degree, but I’m gonna be honest with you. I had to look up what the word futile meant. Here’s the definition: “incapable of producing any useful result; pointless” … You guys, I literally gasped when I read that.

I gasped because I felt as if someone had been watching me my whole life. My mind tends to go this direction at times. Sometimes not even necessarily when things are going terrible, but when they’re going great… Like I’m waiting for the ball to drop. This mindset is no way to live.

We get fearful. Don’t we, though? We do. We worry about our finances, our relationships, the opinions of other people. Fighting fear is a constant battle.

I mentioned to her that it would be wise to have a game plan. Basically, have truth at the forefront of your mind. How do you know what truths to use to guard your heart? Well, just start with the opposite of those 3 words (or any specific lie, for that matter). Here we go.

God is encouraging. He loves you more than you could ever imagine. Over and over throughout Scripture He confirms his love for you and me. He tells us He will provide for us. He delights in us. Use these truths to bring encouragement to your heart. (Romans 15:4)

God has given you a purpose. This seems basic. We hear it all the time.  But truly hear me here. God has given you (yes, YOU!) a specific purpose for the building up of His kingdom before you were even born. You have a voice. You matter. You are needed and wanted. You have purpose. (! Corinthians 12: 12-31)

God is loving. Perfect love casts out fear. This verse is gold. Again, it seems basic, but it only seems generic and basic… until we apply it. Then it becomes profound. Then it becomes magnificent. We’ve got to learn to walk in this truth. (1 John 4:18)

When you operate out of God’s love instead of fear from the enemy, peace abounds in your heart. No matter what the circumstance is, you can still have peace. This peace doesn’t exempt you from hard times. However, this peace allows you the mindset of knowing even if your world comes crashing down and you lose everything you hold dear; you know God is still good, and God is still here.

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