Encouragement for the Fatigued and Discouraged
Today's post first published on JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com on May 23, 2019.
Before you dive into today's post, I have some fun news! My friend and super talented author and speaker Grace Fox and I have transitioned to hosts of Bible Study Tools Your Daily Bible Verse podcast. You can listen HERE.
Discouragement, fatigue, and feelings of defeat are perhaps the most powerful vision destroyers and faith derailers. These emotions, often fed through negative thinking, paralyze God's people. I know, because I've allowed momentary setbacks, lack of results or response from others to hinder my productivity—my obedience—on numerous occasions.
This morning, I made a list of my greatest challenges to obedience:
- Focusing on results rather than obedience. If I dig to the root of this obstacle, I discover I've likely forgotten that God's wisdom is greater than mine, that He's always present, is always working out His plans, and, in His sovereignty, will ensure that everything plays out precisely as He desires. And since He knows best, the results, whether deemed "successful" by human standards or not, will be good because He is good.
- Allowing my identity to get tied up in that "thing." It's interesting, or perhaps sad would be more accurate, how often I entangle who I am with what I do or don't do. When I look to accolades, roles, or outcomes to define me, my security becomes unstable and my confidence subjective.
- Focusing on others—what they are or aren't doing—rather than God's leading. When God calls me to something, especially if that something is hard or requires perseverance and sacrifice, my eyes can begin to roam. I can begin to compare my assignment or results with others.
- Fatigue. Sometimes I simply need to rest—in God's presence.
- Fear of failure. This fear tangles challenge one with challenge two. To overcome this fear, I must shift my focus from results to obedience and remember, regardless of the results, that role or achievement doesn't define me. I belong to God, am chosen by Him for an eternal purpose, and He will perfect all that concerns me.
God addresses each of these faith-hindrances in Daniel chapter 10. Daniel, a prophet living in a foreign land during a time of oppression, was devastated by his circumstances. He’d cried out to God, acknowledging the sins of his people and asking for forgiveness and restoration. (Daniel 9). God had responded by telling him further destruction would come. And Daniel fell into a three-week depression. (Daniel 10:2).
God responded not by changing his circumstances but instead by centering him in His love.In the middle of Daniel’s despair, a man dressed in white whom some believe was Jesus Himself, appeared and said, “Daniel, you are very precious to God” (v. 11). “‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, ‘for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!’” (v. 19).
I love that this man affirmed Daniel twice: “You are precious to God. You are precious to God.”
How often do we need to hear those words? When we’re doing all we can to raise responsible, Christ-loving children, but they rebel against us. Or when we’re faithfully performing our work responsibilities each day, but coworkers or perhaps a hostile boss continually stands against us. Or perhaps when we’re following all the doctors tell us to do, praying daily for healing, and yet the tumor grows.
In those moments, it’s easy to feel discouraged and deflated. Completely alone. But God says to each of us, “You are precious to God. Don’t be afraid. Be encouraged! Be strong!”
What are you facing today? Don’t fight that battle alone. Press into Jesus and remember, you are precious to Him. He’s standing beside you and going before you. He hears you and sees you and promises to never leave.
For those wanting to follow my Bible reading (largely following chronologically with Ezra, though Daniel 9, which should fall on day five, is presented first to correlate with today's post):
Day one: Daniel 9
Day two: Haggai 1
Day three: Haggai 2
Day four: Zechariah 1, 4
Day five: Ezra 5
Day six: Spend a day reviewing, journaling on, and praying over what God showed you during your day one-five Bible reading time.
You can use these questions, pulled from Wholly Loved' Becoming His Princess Bible study, as a guide each day.
Who are the main characters in this passage?
What does this passage reveal about the human condition, such as:
- Mankind’s rebellion against/obedience toward God?
- Mankind’s attempts to fill their needs apart from Him or relying on Him for their needs?
- Mankind’s attempts to reach Him on their own terms?
What does this passage reveal regarding God’s nature?
What does/might this passage reveal about God’s plans?
How might this passage reveal mankind’s need for the gospel?
In what ways are you/have you been similar to one or more of the characters in this passage?
What might God want you to know through this section of Scripture?
What might He be asking you to do?
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Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.