Discouragement can be self-inflicted if we don’t take our thoughts captive.
“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
(1 John 1:5 ESV)
Do you ever find yourself plagued with regrets? Or fears for the future? Things might be going well but then suddenly it seems as if a dark cloud closes in choking out joy.
Perhaps you are just in a hard place in your marriage, with a child, an extended family member, a friend. Your job may be in jeopardy. Or you may be bored in your profession, longing for something else. You may be weary of health issues and fearful of what lies ahead.
Sometimes we get discouraged for no good reason. Then we feel guilty for feeling this way and we don’t even like ourselves!
From time to time, I too have been under a dark cloud. Expectations dashed, actions misjudged, regrets showing their ugly fangs. Fears of the unknown leap into my mind. What am I to do?
There are 2 phrases we need to recognize to avoid discouragement.
If only I had not come from a dysfunctional family.
If only I had a spouse.
If only my marriage wasn’t such a mess.
If only we could get out of debt.
And our list goes on.
It’s easy for this little phrase to sneak into our minds without our even being aware that it has. It gets its clutches around our thoughts squeezing and manipulating our minds until we slip into dissatisfaction or self-pity or blame. I can easily become a total grouch – unhappy about my circumstances, mad at someone, and then angry at what I’ve become.
Living with an if-only mentality will cause regret, stifle joy, and decrease hope. What do we do if we find ourselves in this state?
- Recognize the trap we’ve fallen into.
- If any part of the if-only is regret over something we have done or said for which we need to ask forgiveness, do it. If we need to grant forgiveness, do it. Then let it go. God has chosen to forgive and forget. (Psalm 103)
What if my marriage doesn’t make it.
What if my family member dies from the virus.
What if we have to move.
What if my child rebels.
What if my senior doesn’t get into the college of his choice.
And this list, too, goes on and on.
Living with a what-if mentality causes fear. We need to realize how easy it is to let our fear become bigger than our God. We lose perspective.
What do we do if we find ourselves plagued with a case of the what-ifs?
- Recognize we’ve fallen into a second trap.
- Remind ourselves of how BIG God is.
- Say out loud the character traits of our loving Father. Somehow speaking out loud enables us to focus more on who He is instead of on our what if. He is already going ahead to take care of any what-ifs. They are his.
Both of these common, yet dangerous phrases, are often tools of the enemy. He knows where we are vulnerable. He wants us to live in fear or regret. He wants to rob us of JOY. He is annoying, but he does not have real power over us. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 ESV)
In His Word
What does this promise, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) mean to you today?
Pray and read Psalm 139. Ask Him to show you a comforting verse meant just for you at this time.
In Your Life
Ask God to alert you to the times you fall into the traps of “if only” or “what if.”
When you recognize this begin to thank God out loud for His faithfulness in the past. You might make a list of specific things for which you are thankful today.
Susan takes readers on a journey of renewed confidence to walk with a God so much bigger than the challenges we often face in her book, Risky Faith, Becoming Brave Enough To Trust the God Who Is Bigger Than Your World.
“Nothing in all life is easier and harder, simpler or more profound than trusting God. Gently, wisely, strongly, and helpfully, Susan Yates shows us how and brings us back to what we all know but need to know again and again and again.” ~ Os and Jenny Guinness