There is a psychological paradigm that classifies our emotions into four main categories: sad, mad, glad, and scared.
Discouragement falls somewhere among mad, sad and scared.
Mad because life isn’t going as we want, sad because life is failing us, and scared because we feel out of control.
Discouragement seems less like a carnal reaction than say envy, but giving into bouts of frustration puts a wall in the midst of our oneness with God.
Discouragement is unmet expectations. In the mindset of the flesh, we are in control and when things don’t go our way we get frustrated. We expected to be a better person or to act a different way. We expected someone else to respond differently. We expected a situation to turn out one way and it did another. As a result, out of our mouth spew complaints, the fruit of discouragement. Complaining results from our decision that the person, situation, or ourselves should be different at this moment in time. Says who? Us? Are we in charge or God?
This emotion is a hard one to face. We don’t like it when someone tells us we shouldn’t be discouraged. We feel it is justified and unavoidable because of our situations. That life has treated us unfairly so we deserve to be at least a little discouraged. We all go through trying situations, but it is how we respond to those situations that makes the difference between living a life unto God and unto ourselves.
It’s about perspective. A bout of discouragement is the response of our flesh (our carnal self) to a situation that throws us for a loop. Conversely, our spirits (new life born of God) see the same situation as an opportunity to depend upon God, to witness His power, and to learn to live in His strength not ours. The latter perspective infuses truth, power, and hope into what is happening.
The ability to approach a situation with a spirit mindset is based on a deep understanding of who God is and who we are in Him. So, the purpose of tough situations is to deepen our understanding and trust in God. If we respond in faith, He uses them for good to create intimacy and oneness because they increase our trust in Him. When we feel the onset of discouragement, we need to dig deep into God’s truth, our faith, because we are presented with an opportunity to enter into a deeper level of spiritual maturity.
These situations are not only to enhance our faith in Him but our faith is the way out of discouragement. By believing and clinging to our new life, we abandon the flesh mindset leaving it powerless.
Ephesians 4:22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
Ephesians 4:24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Paul’s phrasing of putting on is an action we do. It suggests we have a choice to make. It is a decision we make at a given moment. But what gives us the ability to make that decision is a lifestyle of being in the Word that increases our knowledge that increases our trust, and creates expereineces to solidify that trust. Then when the moment arises we’ll be able to respond as spirit beings lacking nothing and not mere men.
We will get discouraged. We are growing in the spirit and we aren’t perfect yet, but we are to push forward, renew our minds, and implement the little faith we have to grab a hold of the truth of who He is and who we are in Him. As we do those situations that once caused discouragement will start to manifest praise.