“God, I just can’t do this.”
I was crying in bed for the third night in a row. “Nothing makes much of a difference. I can’t control my situation, my health, or anything else. I don’t know why I even bother trying to do this well. My chronic illness is so much to handle—emotionally, mentally, and physically. Why do I even try to still live well? Why do I even fight back against the lies in my head?”
I didn’t even want to pray—I was so discouraged that I doubted it’d make much of a difference.
However, I still tried to seek Him and be honest, and as I did He brought these points to mind and encouraged me. He gave me strength for that moment, and He’s still continuing to do so. I’ll be honest and say that I’m still struggling and hurting, but some of the fight is back in me and I’m trying to be brave and keep doing what I can. I’m still here and trying to keep my hope alive. These truths have brought me hope and strength in dark times. My prayer is that one of these truths will speak into your life, into your struggles, and bring you life and hope again.
#1. God’s people were discouraged too
Many times as Christians we can feel ashamed for feeling disappointed or depressed. We question ourselves or our faith and wonder if we’re “bad Christians.” However, there are so many examples in scripture of people of faith dealing with discouragement and other emotional struggles, and it is not condemned! Instead of giving in to shame and lies, these examples remind us that we need to draw near to God in our struggles, fears, and hurts.
The book of Habakkuk opens with, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?” At the beginning of this powerful book, the prophet is crying out in discouragement and frustration toward God. After asking God his questions, Habakkuk doesn’t get clear answers but he does trust God again, praising Him for His trustworthiness and faithfulness.
Elijah tells God in 1 Kings 19 that he is the only prophet left because of the corrupt government, and that he is being hunted too. In verse 4, he asks God to just take his life. It’s not worth it to go on, he tells God. This is just after he was at Mount Carmel showing the whole country the power of God! God informs him that there are actually 7,000 people in Israel who still worship Him, and He gives Elijah new tasks to do. He also provides Elijah with a helper, gracing him with a tangible reminder that he is not alone in this.
Job’s world was shaken by the loss of all he knew, and he understandably became discouraged and has some deep questions. But God doesn’t condemn him. He shows up for Job and reveals His character and sovereignty.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)
#2. You are loved unconditionally
“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39 (NIV)
No matter your discouragement or situation, God loves you just as you are! There’s no question or doubt that could make His love for you change. You don’t have to earn His love either. Nothing that you do can change His love for you.
However, as the ending line to Rend Collective’s song “Unconditional” says: “Your heart has welcomed me just as I am. But to be loved is to be changed.” God loves us, but He doesn’t approve of our sin. He wants to help us out of it and heal the brokenness caused by our sins.
“‘Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.’” John 8:11b (NIV)
#3. God sees your efforts
“Why bother?” is a question I’ve found myself asking lately. Why bother taking special care of my body in order to do extra activities if I still find that I can’t do them? Why bother working toward help and healing if I don’t see a noticeable change? Why bother praying and surrendering this certain struggle if I’ve already been here so many times and know I will be again? Why bother with the extra pain of processing this if I could just numb my emotions until another time, especially when I don’t feel like it will make a difference?
But a truth I need to cling to is that God sees these efforts! He notices each and every time I choose something good for my body or soul. God sees every time I choose to fight back against the lies that tell me I’m too much of a burden or just the “sick girl”. He wants to bless those efforts. And dear Rose, our brave efforts do not go unseen.
“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139: 2-5 (NIV)
#4. It’s okay (good even!) to be honest
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Psalms 103:13 (NIV)
While God sees our efforts, He also sees the pain and questions that we all have. God wants us to be honest with Him—He loves us that dearly. He can’t be scared away by our deep emotions. He’s not taken aback by petty annoyances, strong grief, anger, depressive thoughts, discouragement, or fear.
Remember Rose: God created emotion, and even people in the Bible expressed their hearts to God!
He was with them in the questioning.
So many of the Psalms are heartfelt cries to God of pain, hurt, and discouragement. These show us that we can come to God with anything. Your Savior wants that fellowship with you.
We also need to have safe people to be honest with. When we hide ourselves from people, we shut ourselves off from community. Yes, some will not understand. But we need to trust God with that and strive to be open with people. They care for you. We all struggle in different ways, and it’s only through risking honesty that we can connect with others in meaningful ways.
#5. You don’t fight alone
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
Never alone. This is something hard to grasp when we’re discouraged, but it’s so key to remember. God is here right in the middle of your mess or struggle, no matter what. He promises never to leave, and this holds true in the hard and discouraging times. He’s present here in this with you. He fights alongside you and strengthens and encourages you.
But He may also have brought people into your life who will weather the storm with you. You might not see it now, but they are there, and they are willing to fight with you. But you have to let them in.
If you don’t have this support right now, try to deepen some relationships through prayer, intentional time, and vulnerability. If you don’t have any relationships you can strengthen, try finding a healthy, Christ-like community. However hard and risky it feels—it’s worth it.
But no matter what human relationships you have, God is always with you and fights for you.
#6. Keep on fighting. The sun will rise
“The sun will rise tomorrow, and this heartbreaking season will end.” I sent this to a friend while supporting her through grief. I still believe it. But sometimes, things don’t seem like they will end soon enough for us. Situations such as illness, mental battles, grief and loss, or tension in a relationship can all drag on for years, or even a lifetime. I know I tend to dismiss the end as too far off to mean anything for me.
But Rose—we can’t lose hope! God will wipe every tear away in the end, restore the years taken, and redeem our pain. We will get to spend eternity with Him. He’s a good God with a good plan, and though that doesn’t mean that we won’t go through pain and darkness, it does mean that those things are not the end.
This is our hope. When I take my eyes off the ending, all I can see is the pain and the struggle. We must not lose focus on the end promised by our Savior. When struggling with depression, it can be hard to hold onto hope and truth. I know. But we must trust that God is still in control and has a good ending for our story—no matter what happens. He is here.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelation 21:3-5 (NIV)
Cat Thompson has always been encouraged by honest, hopeful words, and she hopes that her writing will encourage hurting Roses that they are not alone. Her aim is to bring hope and light into the dark and demonstrate God’s presence and healing power. She enjoys writing both nonfiction and fiction. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hanging out with friends, reading, eating snacks, or drinking hot chocolate.
Do you ever struggle to find hope? How do you walk through times of discouragement?
Comment below, Roses, and let’s chat!
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