Be joyous even in discouragements
It’s easy to keep trusting God when you pray and the prayer is almost always answered immediately. But have you been in a situation where you’ve been praying for something and it hasn’t yet been answered. But still you keep trusting God and continue praying for something else and then for something else, it’s been a long time and still you haven’t see a prayer need being answered and you are on the edge of your faith clinging on with a thread of hope that all will be good someday. And now just when you are fighting those negative thoughts of – why-aren’t-my-prayers-being-answered, you have people around you coming to you with news of their prayers being answered!
How does that feel? It’s a moment of mixed emotions. You want to be happy for their prayers being answered but deep within you are filled with disappointment and discouragement. A million thoughts can run in your mind – am I audible to God? – am I not praying the right way? – is something wrong with me? – have I done something wrong? – is God displeased with me? – are my prayers even reaching heaven? – if my eyes could see at least one small prayer being answered, oh how my faith could be strengthened! That’s how we feel. We are disappointed. We are discouraged. We want to feel happy for others’ prayers being answered, their accomplishments and successes, but this feeling of disappointment of our prayers not being answered overrules it and we show more of the discouragement than showing happiness for what they have gotten.
I think the situation that I’ve explained above is the most trivial point in anyone’s life, which can decide whether you are going to move forward in your spiritual growth or move backward. How do you react in a situation where you’ve been praying for a year or a decade (almost a decade in my life) and haven’t seen a personal prayer need being answered specifically materialistic needs and you in turn hear news of the answered prayers of the people around you, their successes and accomplishments? How we respond in such situations decides our outcome of the day and the days to come. It ain’t just a one time trial/test that God allows in our lives. We may encounter such situations as long as we live. So we understand that through this God is trying to work in using order to live victoriously in both spiritual life and daily life, unshaken and anchored in Christ, we need to practise overcoming ourselves in such situations of desperation. We need to learn to be joyous in such situations of discouragements.
Being joyous about everyone’s prayers being answered while yours hasn’t been, at least not yet been, answered can be a hard thing to do, but if you can really be joyous in your situations of discouragements then you have really learnt a very important key to living a victorious life in God!
So what’s about all this hassle of discouragements and frustrations anyway? Does God not care? Why does He allow such situations anyway? Why do we have to go through this? How can I continue to trust in God? How can I be happy for others’ accomplishments while my prayers are not yet answered? How to be joyous in such situations and continue to put our trust in God?
In this post, as an introduction I will be talking briefly about our life in God, walking tough roads and how to deal with discouragements due to unanswered prayers in this walk of faith. In the next post, I will be sharing why God leads us through this, what are we being taught and how God is actually using this to prepare us for our future!
WHAT’S LIFE ABOUT ANYWAY?
We all know, the whole life thing is based on the aim of – living for God, growing more and more in a relationship with Him. This is primary. Rest of the stuff are secondary, but not unnecessary.
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but will have eternal life. Every man on the face of this earth has a purpose in God specifically designed such that only he can fulfil that purpose for God. (You can find more about that in this post) When a man accepts Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour and repents of his sin, the first thing that happens to him is that he becomes a new creation in Christ. He starts behaving different in a very good way, his eyes see the world in a way he has never seen before, his heart becomes a heart of love, care and kindness, his very existence on this earth becomes filled with a purpose. Remember all this happens by default when come to know Jesus as your saviour, because the Bible clearly states
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Saviour], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP)
YOUR LIFE IS PURPOSE-DRIVEN
We make Jesus the Lord of our life. We are deeply in love with Him because we realise the depth of His love for us. And when we are in love with someone, we want to get to know that person more, talk with them more, and get close to them on a daily basis. We want to do things that please that person right? And so we pray, “Lord, lead me closer to You, I want to be with you more”. And it is then that we realise the fact that we have been created by God for a purpose, a purpose for His Kingdom’s glory (read about it here). And we let down our self-driven motives and ask for Lord’s leading in every part of our lives – “Lord, let not my will, but Yours be done. Help me to fulfil that purpose for which you have created me. “. We allow God to deal with us according to His wisdom. And while we submit to His Will, God does lead us in ways we are totally unaware of. His ways are not our ways.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Is. 55:8-9
UNDERSTAND GOD IS LEADING YOU
Submitting to Lord’s Will in your life means letting Him lead you in every step of your way. You start to walk in ways you haven’t imagined. Sometimes it’s easy but at other times the ways of the Lord maybe hard or tough, but we know that everything happens for the good of those who believe in God so that we fulfil the purpose we have in Him.
And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28
So while we may be wondering why our prayers are not being answered, we also know that everything in our life is in some way working for our good because we have surrendered our lives to God’s leading. There may be many reasons why the Lord delays our answers or gives a straight-no to some prayers, but we do know one thing for sure – God is working on us.
“ for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
UNANSWERED PRAYERS – a trial?
Now we understand what our life is all about and why we go through trials. But is answered-prayers also a trial? For that we have to examine ourselves individually. All-scripture is God-breathed and the best mirror to examine ourselves. In the Bible we see that prayers are not answered for various reasons; asking with wrong motives (James 4:3), wickedness in heart (Psalm 66:18), sinning against God (Isaiah 59:2), disregarding the Word of God (Proverbs 28:9), etc. You can read the Bible to know more about such situations when God doesn’t hear us. To make sure that our case of unanswered prayers is a trial of a kind to make us grow in Christ, we need to check ourselves whether the above mentioned are hindering our prayers meanwhile we must also be aware when God hears us and be certain we are in line with it. The Bible tells us in many verses when the Lord answers prayers and of all the following verse says it best:
“… but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He(God) hears him.” John 9:31
So I’ll leave it to you to examine yourself and to come to a conclusion if what you are going through is a trial or just a matter of ignorance. If it is a trial we know that by facing those it is a test of faith and a way to grow closer to God and thereby to live a victorious life.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3
So how do we deal with this trial of unanswered prayers?
1. CONTROL THAT IMMEDIATE PULSE – Worry and Fret
When we face situations of unanswered prayer while others’ are being answered, we almost immediately start to worry and disappointed. It may be natural to worry and fret in situations of distress and discouragement but do not fret, cause fret would lead you to words of doubt, which would lead you away from trusting God.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. Psalms 37:8
2. KEEP YOUR JOY
So what to do when you face this situation of waiting? – Learning to keep your joy even when you are discouraged is a great lesson that is to be put in practise on a daily basis.
Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 AMP
This may seem easy to do but it is difficult if not regularly getting trained in doing so.
But how do we keep the joy?
1. ALTERED IMMEDIATE IMPULSE – FAITH
First thing to do whenever we face times of discouragement in our spiritual walk is that we need to immediately believe and declare in our hearts that God is preparing me for Himself in this waiting time.
For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose]. Hebrews 12:11 (AMP)
2. SHARE YOUR ANXIETY WITH GOD
Next, this one is important. PRAY. Go into your room and pour out your anxiousness to Him. If you are outside or in public, go into a secret communion with God in your mind, talking to Him in silent prayer.
Crying to God is the only major key to get out of it.
Is anyone among you suffering? He must pray. James 1:13
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matt.26:41 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians: 6-7 NIV
Human mind and heart just needs to let out its troubles and anxieties. Bottling them up can cause negativity to rise. When we choose to bury our feelings, we act differently. The best trust-worthy, all-knowing person to share our feelings with is our Lord. He loves you so very much and will never be indifferent to you. Over the years I’ve learnt that the only true person who you can share your feelings with is our Lord. I don’t say that you can’t share with your spouse, parents or friends, but they can sometimes misunderstand you or it can be miscommunicated, certain things are fine to be shared with them, but ALL things at all times can be shared with the Lord. And practising to share “everything” with the Lord first is an ultimate to living a joyous life.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. Psalms 118:8 (NIV)
Confide in the Lord and let out your sadness and anxiety.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
And by doing these things, the Word of God assures that you shall be filled with the peace and joy from the Lord.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
3. BATTLE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Almost immediately when you start to feel confident in the Lord, the devil does try to make us feel inferior and worthless and start to give us thoughts of negativity, in all such cases we must overcome these thoughts by professing our faith with our mouth or tell it out loud in your mind… For example you could declare the following over your life…
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
“… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. “ 1 John 4:4
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20:7-8
Overcoming these negative thoughts is the key strategy to moving forward in our walk of faith, allowing negative thoughts will cause you to go backwards in your walk of faith, they will be like a blanket in front of your eyes, hindering you from getting the good that the Lord intends for you.
So I encourage you to be strong even in times of discouragements. God allows such situations to strengthen your faith and perfect you to fulfil that purpose for which you have been called. When you face discouragement of unanswered prayers instead of worrying and fretting, start to declare your faith, talk to God and fight those negative thoughts with the Word of God.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17
Keep your mind on Jesus. Always. He is the reason for our every breath. Your faith will be rewarded in Heaven! Strive to trust God no matter what.
“ fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Romans 12:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col. 3:2
Learning to maintain your joy, being sensitive to when your joy seems to be fading, paying attention to the trigger in the spiritual realm where you start to question your faith in God and striving to trust God; are the keys to leading a victorious life.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Through situations such as these, God is actually preparing us for the future. I will be sharing this in the next post.
To know why God leads us through this particular trial, what are we being taught and how God is using this to prepare us for our future, click here!