How to Defeat Discouragement
A FIFTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD Brooklyn, New York, woman has for twenty-one years been a bedridden paralytic. Another woman watched her five-year-old daughter weaken and die with dreaded leukemia. Other parents have become discouraged by the increasingly rebellious attitudes of their children. Thousands of persons are being laid off their jobs.
As the pressures of life increase, it seems that the causes for discouragement multiply. Have not all of us at one time or another faced a situation that has discouraged us? What can be done to defeat discouragement?
Look Beyond Yourself
The real answer is to recognize that there is a readily available source of help beyond yourself. Perhaps you have never seriously thought about this, but there is real benefit in considering what the Bible says about the matter. It urges: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you.”—Ps. 55:22.
Here truly is a source of strength and encouragement! God cares and can provide us help. But we need to avail ourselves of his help. Consider how this might be done.
You may be discouraged because someone has, it seems, in some way slighted you. You could mope, feeling sorry for yourself. But what would be the result? You would probably grow more discouraged. On the other hand, you could ask, What course does God recommend?
The answer will not be provided in some mysterious way. Rather, Jehovah God has inspired his written Word to guide us. And it advises: “Always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.” (1 Thess. 5:15) So, then, rather than having a negative, self-pitying attitude, positive action is encouraged. But what?
A fundamental principle of God’s Word gives a clue, saying: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Acts 20:35) Try that. Instead of centering your thoughts on self, look for things you can do for others. Many who have followed this God-given counsel have been aided to defeat discouragement. They have even found real enjoyment in life despite severe problems with their health. Consider that paralyzed woman mentioned at the outset.
It was in the early 1950’s that an unfortunate operation triggered her paralysis. She could have become embittered by the experience, losing interest in life. But no. She has a real interest in things. She is an avid reader, keeping well informed on world events, and shares what she learns with others. In fact, besides keeping in touch with friends, she makes note of persons who suffer some misfortune and then writes or phones them.
Recently she called the parents of a girl who had been murdered, and they were deeply grateful for her concern. Also, she saw on a television program a terminal-cancer patient. She noted the town in which he lived, and later phoned and cheered him with comforting thoughts about the promised relief from sickness under the righteous rule of God’s Kingdom government.—Matt. 6:9, 10; Rev. 21:3, 4.
The woman explains: “I am so busy I almost never feel discouraged. There are so many things to read and study, and there is hardly time in the day to share them with the people I want to. I am so thankful to Jehovah God for his sure promise of a new system of things. More than anything, this hope makes living a real joy.”—2 Pet. 3:13.
If we, too, look to God for help, and take a similar interest in building up others, even members of our own families, discouragement will not plague our life. The mother, whose little five-year-old girl contracted leukemia, shared her hope of life in God’s new order with her daughter. And what a relief and encouragement this later brought! The mother writes:
“She lived only three months after her first sign of illness. She had the bone type. Even though we tried to keep it from her, she was too bright and alert. . . . She said: ‘I know my lying in the grave won’t seem long at all. It will just be like I went to sleep one night and then I will wake up and Jehovah’s new order will be here and I can play with the animals, and all the wicked people will be gone.’
“You cannot imagine the relief this gave us to see such faith. The morning before she died, she said: ‘Don’t cry, Mommy. I will look for you in the New Order.’ . . . How precious life is, and how good and wonderful our Great God is to give us this wonderful hope of the resurrection!”
When Faced with Loss of Employment
Today, especially, loss of employment is a growing source of discouragement. Many family heads fear that they may not even be able to feed and clothe their families. But, if you lose your job, just sitting at home and worrying is not going to improve the situation. If employment agencies offer nothing, do some planning yourself. Consider: Can employment be found in another type of work? Is there perhaps some service that you can supply for people—whether cleaning, painting, gardening, repair work, or something else? You may get some good suggestions if you talk to friends about possibilities. True, the pay may be less than what you were making, but if you have the necessities of life, is that not what is really important?—1 Tim. 6:6-8.
Jesus Christ taught his followers to pray: “Give us today our bread for this day.” And he cautioned them: “Never be anxious about the next day.” (Matt. 6:11, 34) Do you apply that in your life? Persons who have learned to be grateful that they have enough for today, instead of worrying about the future, have greater enjoyment in life. Furthermore, the person who has not relied mainly on material things for happiness, but has built his life around a good relationship with God, has reason for confidence; because God says: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.”—Heb. 13:5, 6.
Problems with One’s Children
What can parents do who have become discouraged by rebellious attitudes of their children? In this situation, too, looking to Jehovah for guidance will bring encouragement and hope. God’s Word identifies bad associations as a principal source of wrongdoing. Therefore, to counteract bad influences it urges parents, not simply to ‘lay down the law’ to their children, but to spend time with them, talking to them about Jehovah God and his righteous requirements. Do you?—1 Cor. 15:33; Deut. 6:1, 4-9.
This requires real effort. It is not simply a matter of ordering them, ‘Do this!’ or, ‘Don’t do that.’ It is beneficial to think over in advance what you are going to tell them, and how you are going to say it. Family communication is improved when parents welcome their children’s expressions instead of promptly criticizing their views. This usually creates a better atmosphere in the home.
But even if, despite your efforts, a child pursues a bad course, take courage. Remember the Bible account of the prodigal son who, after a temporary period of rejecting his father’s guidance, repentantly returned. That has happened many times.—Luke 15:11-32.
Regardless of the problem that you face, never forget to pray, asking Jehovah God for guidance and help. For it is a truth: “He himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Ps. 55:22.