As you run the race of life, along the way, you will come across some hurdles. They may slow you down or get you off the trap. Sometimes, your hurdles can be a fortified wall, which stops you from going any further in the race. These hurdles in life are known as discouragement.

Your discouragement could be a result of losing hope, prolonged illness, constant failures, oppressive relationships, unfulfilled dreams or a death of a loved one. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverb 13:12 NIV). Discouragement is basically lack of courage, lack of hope, lack of confidence and faintheartedness.

Discouragement can get you so low at times that you give up trying. We all face discouragement from time to time. When I look back at the times of discouragement in my life, all I can say is how ignorant I have been. I looked at my circumstances and the inadequacy within me and failed to see God’s plan for my life. I believed the lies of the devil and failed to stand by the truth of God’s Word.

Through my failings, I have learnt the key to overcoming discouragement is to focus on God and His promises. In the midst of all hopeless situations, our hope lies in God. In the midst of sorrow, we are able to rejoice for our joy that comes from the Lord. When we are weak, we are strong because we know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

People go through life carrying the nagging pain of discouragement, never fully recovering from it. At times people are so discouraged that they not only lose their courage, they lose their faith as well. People give up on God because they feel God has given up on them. Once a man lost his faith in God because his son died. He angrily asked God, “Where were you God, when my son died”? God replied saying, “Exactly the same place when My Son died”.

At times God rescues us from suffering and at other times He allows us to endure suffering. God is always with us, even when we don’t feel His presence. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV).

Discouragement is a choice. Even in the midst of your deepest loss, you can choose not to be discouraged. This is possible only when you totally surrender to God’s will and trust Him in all your ways. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV).

You will always have setbacks in life. These setbacks are not meant for you to step back in discouragement, but instead they are a set-up to help you step up in faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrew 11:6 NIV).

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do (James 1: 2-8 NIV). Discouragement is a result of lack of faith, trust, wisdom and determination. It displays immaturity, double-mindedness, instability and lack of character.

Will you trust God when you lose your job, knowing that He provides for all your needs? Will you hope in God when your marriage has ended or you have lost your beloved? In sickness, pain, sorrow and grief, while your world is falling apart, do you have enough faith to endure it all and remain unshaken? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

We have a responsibility, to encourage others in faith and also to encourage ourselves in the Lord. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God (Psalms 43:5 NIV).