Discouragement: The Devil’s Most Effective Weapon

Written By Grace Chan, Malaysia, originally in Traditional Chinese

I once heard a story of an old devil who was planning to retire. He put up for auction all the weapons which he had accumulated over the years. They ranged from envy to laziness to gossip.

One of these weapons was worn from frequent use; it was the most expensive of the lot. When a junior devil asked about the weapon, the old devil proudly introduced it: discouragement. “Many people have been able to resist attacks from my other weapons, but as soon as I deployed ‘discouragement’, they would fall into the trap, and it would be easy to control them,” he explained.

The old devil was right. At the lowest point in my life, I was trapped in feelings of discouragement. I lost all hope and joy; I was so disappointed with myself and my work and felt like a good-for-nothing. Whenever someone assigned me a new task, I was so afraid to mess things up. I struggled to interact with others, constantly overthinking everything I said and did, and feeling stifled by the internal conflict I was facing. I thought I would lose my job and my relationships.

When night fell, I would either cry myself to sleep or mindlessly browse my social media feeds on my phone until I fell asleep. Because the former was too painful, I usually chose the latter as temporary reprieve. But on the following day, I would beat myself up for wasting time.

Also, I didn’t want to face a new day and struggled to get up every morning—often lying in bed until the last minute before rushing out to work. I couldn’t change myself no matter what I did. How could I serve God in this state? I often reasoned. For a long time, I felt aimless and lethargic about life.

Looking back, I believe that there were two root causes of my discouragement:

 

Comparison

I often compared myself with other people and wondered why they could overcome difficult and painful seasons and even grow spiritually. I, on the other hand, seemed to be stuck in my problems. That made me feel useless and worthless.

It was only when my pastor shared with me that everybody was made unique, and there was no basis for comparison, that my perspective changed. Many times, we don’t see the full picture: each one of us has our own weaknesses, and we all need God’s help. As the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:3-8, we have different gifts and can play different roles in God’s work. That’s when I realized I had a tendency to focus on the strengths of others but my own weaknesses.

 

Pride

I expect a lot of myself and tend to be fixated on the nitty-gritty. However, I soon realized that the unreasonably high standards I had set for myself had come about because of my pride–not because God required them.

As I think back on some of the things that have happened, I’ve realized that I get easily frustrated and struggle to accept it whenever my pride takes a hit, such as when I’m treated unjustly or misunderstood, or when I don’t perform up to scratch or make mistakes.

Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” God used this verse to teach me that through the disappointments I faced, He was molding me and teaching me to put down my pride and need for perfection.

He also helped me change in these three areas:

 

1. Acknowledge my weakness

During that period of discouragement, I became reticent and withdrawn, and was reluctant to tell others about how I was feeling. I pretended everything was okay and kept myself busy by helping others.

But suppressing my feelings didn’t help, as my negative emotions showed up in the words I said. It took church elders and friends to help me open up about my struggles and needs, and to acknowledge that I was on the verge of a breakdown. They also interceded on my behalf. Through them, I began to see the truth of Ecclesiastes 4:10, “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

 

2. Focus on others instead of myself

Interestingly, I also learned that the way to not get overwhelmed by our own circumstances is to instead, focus on the needs of others, just like what Isaiah 58:10 says, “and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

When I was discouraged and wanted to distance myself from everyone and hide, God surrounded me with fellow believers, some of whom were sisters that I had ministered to in the past. Through them, God gave me the opportunity to look past my own problems and show them love and concern, just as I had in the past. The reason why I could love them was because God, the source of love, enabled me to.

 

3. Surrender everything in prayer

In a book I’ve read called, Kisses From Katie, author Katie Davis shares her experiences about moving from her home in USA to Uganda, where she became the mother to 13 adopted children. In the beginning, she felt very helpless and frustrated when she saw all the needs around her. But when she turned to God and cried out to Him, God gave her the resources to help the children.

Her story reminded me that we cannot rely on ourselves because many things are beyond our control. At the same time, however, we should not allow ourselves to despair. Instead, we should surrender our pains and problems to God through prayer.

When we hand the authority and control of our situation back to the all-powerful God, He will grant us faith to wait patiently for His answers in our lives.

 

If you were to ask me today if I am completely free from negative emotions and thoughts, my answer is found in this verse: “LORD, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure.” (Psalm 16:5).

I have come to understand that I am in God’s hand and everything is from Him. Whenever I am afraid of losing something or lack the courage to face challenges, I know that God will strengthen me. And I firmly believe that God will not give me more than I can bear, and He would always provide a way out (1 Cor 10:13).

So let me return to the story I started with. The junior devil went on to ask the old devil what kind of person was not afraid of discouragement. The old devil replied, “Those with a grateful heart.” Gratefulness helps us see what we have and not focus on what we don’t have. It causes us to remember God’s leading and work in our lives, and gives us confidence that He will continue to guide us in our path ahead.

So, no matter the discouragement we have faced and will face, let’s pray that God will enable us to praise Him in thanksgiving. It is my prayer that we all will learn to be grateful people.

7 replies
  1. Esther
    Esther says:

    Hi.I have gone through almost the same experience but at a different attitude. I was an ego and I didnt want help from my friends to motivate me.as I was 16 years old,I thought I should be a big girl now and suppose to know how to motivate myself and carry myself well.but here I am today at 22 I don’t even know whether im doing the right thing according to gods will or not. when I was 16 I used to surpress my negative,judgemental thoughts even blaming(I do not have the right positive attitude) until recently I’ve had enough and decided to let go of my suppression because im worried it wold affect my behaviours and thoughts as well as my studies.i may not be an independent thinker although I am going slow right now to make better decisions in my dailyard life.I hope this inspire you abit but most importantly I hopened that im living according to gods will that would make god happy.

    Reply
    • Jade
      Jade says:

      Esther I read your comment and noticed you haven’t got a reply. As a child of God I just wanted to tell you that I’m in prayer that God will guide you in the right choices and give you the guidance you need. I know I can’t live without Jesus guiding my steps and I still mess up daily. But I never give up because he’s the reason I even have life.

  2. Kia H
    Kia H says:

    Thank you fpr sharing this. I myself am going through this exact set of fellings as listed above i mean thos whole story shared is all that i am hoing through and as a mother of 5kids in a small apartment i have no alone time to collect my thoughts which also discourages me when im down i am trying daily to lift my head up and i pray n am and before bed but o feel its still alot missing alot more i should try to do. Well i will read the scriptures losted and pray and keep my head up i have faith so npw i will pratice it over and over untill i can feel myself lifted in spirt. Ty for your story it helps ro not feel alone as i have felt for a while now. Be blessed all.

    Reply
    • Mambo
      Mambo says:

      Hey I may not be the strongest but I learnt thank always trying to pretend to be strong in the face of those who love us is a plus but also a weakness in itself.
      Plz permit me Ma’am instead of seeking Time alone y don’t you engage the children too in ur talks to God together they all get to understand That mommy needs some time to talk through the troubles even if they dont know they are there.
      Plz I hope no offense.
      God loves us all and watches over us and he understands best. Even when u don’t think so He still listens. You are blessed never forget that. And it is well. Praises and worship Soothes the soul.

    • YMI
      YMI says:

      Hi Kia, thanks for sharing your story. We’re encouraged to hear that this story helped you feel a little less alone. We will be praying that God will continue to strengthen you.

  3. Mambo
    Mambo says:

    Hey greetings from Cameroon. I have have had similar troubles and struggles with being disappointed with myself. But the difference is my pride has nothing to do with it or even compairism. I have dreams and aspirations. Passions I hope are right in the Heavenly Father’s sight but I just feel I am stock in this one place. For six years and I have been hoping for a chance. Now at 24 and I still feel like I am wasting and should stop trying…. I feel like giving up on reaching them but I still pray for hope. I pray my potentials and gifts don’t cease growing n go to waste.

    Reply
    • YMI
      YMI says:

      Hi Mambo, thanks for sharing about your struggles. It isn’t easy to keep going, but we pray that you will continue to grow your gifts and glorify God with them.

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