I recently went through one of the most difficult and discouraging setbacks in ministry I have faced in a long time. It’s one of those that cuts to the heart of a long-held dream and so it doesn’t just emotionally hurt--it physically hurts.
I’ve been wrestling with God and turning over so many thoughts in my head. Did I get my call wrong? Did I miss something? Why is this happening? Do you see me, God? You may know these same questions well and the many more that have raced through my mind. The whole experience has left me feeling confused and lost, wondering where to turn next.
What do we do when we face a discouraging blow to our dreams? Or perhaps receive heartbreaking news about someone we care about? How do we respond when hope grows dim and the darkness seems to overwhelm us?
My absolute favorite passage in the Bible is Hebrews 10:35-36 (NLT) and I’m always going back to it when discouragement sets in. Here’s a roadmap for you in your own disappointment.
1. Do Not Throw Away Your Trust in God.
Our mighty, steady, constant God is the anchor to your soul. An anchor that keeps you stable when the sea rages and the storm pounds unrelentingly. This anchor provides hope that you won’t be lost or overtaken by the waters. Having it will keep you afloat until the storm passes.
God has always been there for you, is there for you now, and will always be there for you. It’s His nature and character. You can trust Him with the messiest, darkest, most painful seasons because He is your Father and He is for you. For you like no one else can be.
Don’t throw away that trust. Hold onto it for dear life and don’t let go.
2. Remember Past Wins.
There is something so encouraging about going over all the ways God has shown up and proven Himself faithful. David does it many times in the Bible. Israel was called to recount what God had done for them often. It’s in there because remembering what God has done for you has a way of cultivating gratitude, which spurs hope and faith.
Start proclaiming the victories God has brought about in your life. Remember how He has come through in the past and how He has always worked things out. If you can do that and proclaim that God is the same today as He was then, you can muster the faith to believe He will come through for you in this season.
3. Endure Patiently.
Part of the journey through discouragement is patiently enduring. It’s not glamorous or easy, and often our instinct is to find a quick way out of the situation. But there is great value in the gap between your discouragement and God’s answer.
Some might think that patiently enduring means merely waiting for the storm to pass but it’s so much more than that. It’s an active faith that looks for growth and greater understanding. It’s an openness that asks God to reveal something new in your soul. It’s making the most of what’s hard in order to get out what’s the best inside of you.
4. Do His Will.
You might be confused about your current storm and wondering what’s next. If you’ve been removed from a project you are passionate about, or passed by for a promotion for your dream job, or forced to take some time to rest from a physical ailment in the midst of a flourishing season, confusion about your call can seep into the very depths of your soul.
In times where His will is uncertain, it’s important you do everything you know is His will. It’s to love Him and your neighbors. It’s to share the Gospel with people. It’s to support those in need and encourage those in distress. It’s to love your spouse, children, and family well. It’s to do your creative best with what is in your hand at this moment.
Do what you know He has for you now; as my long-time pastor John Lindell has said, “Do all of the revealed will of God for your life and God will lead you in discovering the unrevealed will of God for your life.”
God shows us in Hebrews 10:36 that if we follow this journey, then we will receive all that He has promised! I know it’s easy to become lethargic and to sit in our pj’s watching This Is Us until the storm passes. As wonderful as that show is (and it is!) or how easy it is to passively wait, there’s no value in that place.
Faith is produced in the suffering and in the resistance. Growth takes place when you have to get honest with yourself and go to God’s promises. You are purified in the fire, not diminished. Discover how you can grow in this season and what God has for you in this secret place. If you can do that, you’ll grow vibrantly, make it through with a fiercer faith, and flourish in the calling He has on your life.