Facing Discouragement in the Everyday: Heidi's Story

Heidi picture.jpeg

Discouragement consistently comes in the wake of tragic circumstances, but sometimes it also visits us in the midst of ordinary, everyday life. It can slowly build as we get up, eat breakfast, go to work, have dinner with family or friends, drive home, exercise, watch Netflix or Amazon Prime, and fall asleep—day in and day out.

I once experienced a season of discouragement like that. It snuck up on me. I woke up one Sunday morning with the realization that I was very sad. I was convinced that God was far away and definitely not at work in my life. I slept for most of that day and surrendered to a sense of hopelessness. My heart felt like a brick in my chest and my feet like lead. A group was gathering at church that evening to worship and pray, and I knew I should go. Instead, I went to a movie and ate an entire bucket of extra butter popcorn, because, what doesn’t that fix?

No traumatic event or singular thing pushed me over the edge of discouragement. It was discouragement by a thousand little disappointments, a sense of boredom, and a gradual withdrawal from Christian community. During the subsequent weeks, I found myself avoiding church and spending less and less time in prayer. I could feel my heart growing colder and colder. I was going through the motions of life—only the bare minimum that kept me fed, employed, and bathed, usually.

Then out of the blue, a conversation with a distant friend changed things. This friend was deeper in the depths of despair than me, by maybe a centimeter. Clearly she was supposed to have been talking to someone else. Someone who was glowing from basking in the light of Community Bible Study and intensive quiet times before every meal. Someone who opened their mouth and naturally oozed the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Beatitudes.

But my friend was not talking to someone like that. She was talking to me.  

I prayed, sort of, and I tried to think of what to do. Apparently, no one was swooping in to comfort and give insightful instruction to me or my friend. No magical, cape wearing, super-disciple was waiting to hug us and tell us God was at work and that we shouldn’t worry.

My belief that God was kind and working for good was down to a sliver. How could I encourage someone when I had no courage? How could I boldly claim that God cared when I questioned if He did? How could I say things with my mouth that my heart had given up on?

As my friend continued to talk, I felt a nudge from the Lord. I couldn’t be sure, but it felt like a dim, ant-sized ember of hope began to flicker across my thoughts. I promptly reminded the Lord that most embers die before maturing to flames. I knew it was going to take a blow torch, and I had no fuel. Hardly feeling like kindling ready to be lit, I felt like a down comforter that had absorbed the Pacific Ocean. Good luck setting me ablaze with belief and hope. The thing is, this God who was nudging me was the same God who spoke to Moses through a burning bush. The same God who used a pillar of fire to lead the Israelites safely through the desert as they fled Egypt at night!

God showed grace to me in that moment and directed my words before I could disqualify myself. I heard my discouraged self asking my discouraged friend to join me in daily prayer and Scripture reading. I was honest with her that I was struggling much like she was, and we decided that struggling together was better than doing it alone. Our morning phone calls were hard at first. They were acts of obedience without much belief and conviction, but we kept at it. As they continued over several months, slowly but surely the discouragement began to fade. God used our conversations and prayers to help renew our desire for His Word and strengthen our confidence in Him.

God came through for me and lifted my spirits by giving me both an opportunity and an assignment—supporting my friend. He didn’t wave a wand and banish my downheartedness with one spoken word, although He certainly is capable of doing that. He put a tourniquet on me and handed me a first-responders uniform. It was as though He said, “Let’s get to work, you and I, on encouraging this friend of yours. And while we’re at it, you will be astounded at how I change your heart and rescue you.”

Isn’t that just like God? Working through us to work in us when we’re weak and ill-equipped.

The discouraged comforting the discouraged. The hurting helping the hurting. The sad suffering alongside the sad and finding strength as we remembered that our good was in being near to God.

God rescued me from a thousand little disappointments in the midst of the mundane. Discouragement may have snuck up on me, but God was not surprised. He was ready, and He delivered me.

 Heidi is from Texas and writes regularly on her own blog. She has an endearing tone and is so funny! She writes about all things related to faith and life. You can find her at:

https://www.heidimfields.com/

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