Life doesn’t always meet our expectations. Even when making plans according to God’s lead, we may run into something that interrupts them. Frustration over the obstacle can lead to discouragement and loss of hope. Then, if the hindrance should persist, our spirits may plummet toward despair.
Oftentimes, what trips us up is the circumstance that seems impossible to overcome. Think about Paul’s voyage to Rome by sea. When a bad storm arose, the sailors worked hard to save the ship. But since they couldn’t control the weather, they gradually gave up all hope of being saved (Acts 27:20). There are times when we can’t change what has happened—whether it’s a job loss, a loved one’s death, or a devastating diagnosis. In such situations, feelings of hopelessness can overtake us.
Postponed plans can also be disheartening. Hannah is an example of someone who became dejected because of “hope deferred” (1 Sam. 1:10-11; see also Prov. 13:12). She saw other women bearing children, but her own maternal desires had not yet been fulfilled. When things do not go according to our schedule, we may experience emotions like hers.
Feeling abandoned by the Lord is another thing that can throw believers off track. I remember a season of life when I felt all alone. My mind said God was with me, but my feelings said otherwise. To counter those emotions, I pursued the Lord through prayer and meditation on Scripture.
In times of discouragement, you have a choice. Will you focus on your circumstances, or will you fix your gaze on our loving Father and trust Him?
Bible in One Year: John 8-9