Overcoming discouragement | Pathways to God's presence

Feb 13, 2023

With our current series, we hope we can learn to do community together as the body of Christ because we share the same experiences of these pathways we travel on together. So, this series is less of an in-depth approach to Scripture, and more a simple framework for deeper intimacy with God through the pathways He has ordained.

Today we are talking about discouragement and how God stewards our times of dryness for His glory, our transformation, and the growth of the fruit of the spirit in our lives. Listen here: https://www.podcastics.com/episode/219965/link/ 

You are invited to watch Stephanie teach this lesson live on video at 

Discouragement can take many forms. Did you know that courage comes from the French for heart? Coeur is the heart of the word courage. So to be encouraged is to have an increase of heart – and discouragement is the opposite. It’s when you lose heart. You lose perspective. Discouragement can feel like darkness, or confusion, or chaos, or loneliness. Or all the above. Or so many more things. Discouragement breeds anxiety, depression, fear, shame, guilt – especially in us Christians.

As Christians we should be the most joyful people on earth – so encouraged, in fast, that we are a constant source of encouragement for others. That is true. But it is not our experience every day. So how can we remedy that, but in a way that brings consistent victory over discouragement?

When we are in a season of discouragement, and its manifestations of anxiety, depression, fear, shame, guilt – that is when we need to travel the pathways to God’s presence more faithfully and consistently than ever.

We cannot learn to walk when there is an earthquake. We cannot learn to swim in the stormy ocean. We need to practice the pathways to God’s presence in peaceful circumstances, so that when the earthquakes and the storms hit, we can recall what has become second nature.

Discouragement can come when you feel you have been in this same storm before. It’s not your first trip to the darkness of depression or the pit of anxiety. You are all too familiar with the taste of fear or the burden of guilt. The cloak of shame fits just too well around your shoulders because it’s been there before. Why are we going through this again, God? haven’t I learned the lesson last time?

Learn to walk the pathways before the crisis hit, so that you will have created pathways within your brain, actual physical pathways of neurons that will help you in your body, soul and spirit when storms hit. You will have created habits of intimacy with God that will become your lifeline.

Discouragement is rooted in many trials of many colors and shapes.

You are not alone.

Stephanie shares her heart, “I shared in the first episode of the series that I have been going through a tough patch in 2022, and I have heard from several of you that it was encouraging for you to hear because you can relate. Thanks for reaching out and letting me know. Hearing from you is super encouraging. And hearing that our times together are helpful to you – well, that’s the best thing you can tell me, because if it doesn’t serve you, then what is the point of all this?”

Thanksgiving is the most potent antidote to discouragement. It might feel like a cliché, but it is a truth bomb. We have heard it so many times we are numb to it.

But try it one more time. because it does transform us. It really has that much power. No wonder the enemy of our soul wants to portray thanksgiving and gratitude as blasé cliches. Don’t fall for it.

Gratitude is not a spiritual gift because it is not given to a few. It is for all. It takes many forms. In essence, it is remembering all the good things in our lives. That is the easy part.

And then, the hard part. Try thanking God for the hard things. For the discouraging things. For the darkness. because winter is a blessing too. darkness prunes our hearts from the shallow delights to remind us where our true desire for delight lays – in God Himself. When God strips your life, be grateful. It is an invitation into deeper intimacy, growing Christlikeness.

One practical way to battle discouragement, anxiety and depression, to name a few, is to intentionally stop lingering there as soon as you become aware that you have entered their territory. It is a difficult discipline to exercise but it is the difference between life and death.

God does care about the heart I bring into my worship. It can be discouraged. He will encourage it. it can be broken. He will restore it. it can be shriveled in pain and selfishness. He will enlarge it to life and fruitfulness.

My heart can come into worship from any one of many states. But in his presence it will leave swollen with love, tender with attention, and at rest from the father’s presence.

Catch up with Stephanie's latest episodes on the Gospel Spice podcast!

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