Discouragement is an affliction all of us deal with as life throws us curveballs that hurt, create anxiety and complications. Life is not fair and has never been fair, living in a fallen and complicated world. And sometimes the bad news bunches up and comes all at once. It can be like a gut punch that leaves our minds in a knot for days.
There are many who believe that as followers of Jesus we should not experience pain, sickness, poverty, or other realities of life in this world. But what do you make of Jesus’ words, “In this world you will have trouble.” That is a defining statement—and one that all of us know to be true. There will come a day when God will redeem this sinful, fallen, and troubled world, but that day is yet to come. In the meantime, we live with the results of the rebellion against God in the garden.
At the same time, Jesus says, “in me you may have peace.” You won’t escape trouble, suffering, hardship, pain, hurt, difficulty, but “in me you may have peace,” in spite of those things. That is a game changer! How many people do you know who have a sense of peace in the middle of their pain or suffering? I know a few, and their sense of peace in the midst of their difficulty is a magnet to others who want to know where that peace comes from.
How then do we deal with very real pain and discouragement? First, acknowledge that the pain and hardship is real and that life is not fair. Bad stuff that is beyond our control happens.
Second, pray for the peace of Christ in the midst of the situation. Even before we ask God to resolve our difficulties, we need to experience His peace based on His promise, His goodness and His presence in our lives. If He is good and if He is faithful and if He is with us and has our lives in His hand we can trust him in the middle of our situation.
Third, ask God to intervene. He has the ability to do what we cannot do: change hearts; minds; situations and circumstances. He may not answer as fast as we desire or in the way we desire but He will answer in a way that glorifies Himself. Here is something to remember: We don't know when faced with trouble what God is up to - in us, in others or in His Kingdom work. But we can be sure that He is up to something that will bring Him glory. That also means that He is in control even when life seems out of control.
Finally, choose to live in trust that He will show us a way through in His time and in His way. We can live in anxiety which is exhausting. Or, we can live in His peace trusting Him with the outcome. This is a choice we make based on God's word and His promises. But that choice makes all the difference in our attitude today.