“Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14
I get excited when I think about God’s calling on my life. Don’t you? To think He has chosen us to do specific work that He designed just for us—for our unique personalities and abilities. It can fill our hearts with joy.
So why is it that we so easily become discouraged? Sometimes the littlest things can bring us down and plant seeds of doubt in our minds. Did I hear God right? Does He really want me to do this? What if I mess up? What if I fail? Do I really have what it takes?
I’ve asked myself all those questions this last month. And every one of them threatened to stop me in my tracks.
That’s what discouragement has the potential to do—get our focus off our God-given goal and render us useless.
Discouragement is a temptation to give up. It takes courage to move forward—to strain toward what is ahead—when what is ahead is difficult or frightening or unknown. And that courage comes from our faith in the Lord.
Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:13-14 above is given after many years of pressing on through immense hardship and suffering for His devotion to Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 he mentions prison, floggings, beatings, stoning, shipwrecks, treading water in the open sea, constant moving from one place to another, dangers from nature and dangers from people with evil intent, hunger, thirst, nakedness, hard work, and sleeplessness.
I look at this list, and I am humbled. It takes so little sometimes to get me down.
But Paul did not let any of those hardships keep him from pressing on toward the goal of completing God’s call on his life. There is no doubt he was tempted by discouragement. How could he not be with all he went through? He is an inspiration to us all when we face our own discouraging feelings.
Even greater than Paul’s example are his specific instructions on how we too can overcome discouragement and keep pressing on with God’s work. He encourages us to…
Pray, Be Alert, Be Thankful
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:18
Put On God’s Armor and Stand Firm
“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” – Ephesians 6:10-11
Do Everything for God’s Glory
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:17
Trust God to Do His Work in You
“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!” – Ephesians 3:20-21
Trust God to Supply Everything You Need
“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19
Trust God to Give You Strength
“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
Trust in God’s Sufficient Grace
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Trust God to Work Good Out of Every Situation
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Trust God to Show You What to Do
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Give Your Worries to the Lord – Rejoice in Him
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 4:4-7
Focus on God’s Truth and Promises
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
If we follow these words of wisdom, we should be able to carry on in the work the Lord has called us to do, even when we face hardships or obstacles that threaten to take us down, including our our doubts and fears.
When the pressure of discouragement threatens to overwhelm you, press on with the sure Word of God’s overwhelming love and grace.
I’ve prepared a PDF printable of these scriptures, just to have for easy reference. If you’d like to have a copy for yourself, you can download it by clicking the link below. And the next time you start feeling discouraged, pray through these verses and ask God to encourage you with His truth.
Using Scripture to Overcome Discouragement (PDF)
Do you have certain scripture verses that help you? How do you overcome the temptation to give up or stop working when discouragement comes your way? Please share your answers in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.
Precious Father, thank You for all Your promises and Your faithfulness. Thank You that You are working in us and through us by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Help us, Lord, when we face feelings of discouragement to keep pressing on in the work You have called us to do by placing our trust in You and relying on Your strength and provision. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Blessings to you,
All Scripture from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Image by Sabra Penley.