Discouragement doesn't have to
take control of your life

Discouragement is one of the arch-enemies of single people for a very simple reason: we don't have anyone to help us change our perspective.

It's easy to feel downhearted. Most of the time, discouragement is the result of not getting our wants met long-term. Most of us can bounce back from disappointment, but when disappointments pile up or there's no sign of hope, that's when pessimism gets a foothold.

Is it a sin to feel this way? No. God is more understanding than that. One of the best examples of despair in the Bible is found in an incident in the life of the prophet Elijah, found in 1 Kings 19:4-5:

    He (Elijah) came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

Haven't you, at times, been so discouraged you told God you'd "had enough" and that you didn't care if he took you right then? We've all felt that way, and singles are especially prone to that feeling. Sometimes it comes from depression--which is a medical condition that you should see your doctor about.

Wants or needs?

But often this sadness comes because we want something very much and can't seem to get it. Notice that I didn't say need. From our limited perspective, we often get our wants confused with our needs. That's a problem I had for much of my life.

You see, God promises to satisfy our needs, but not necessarily our wants. What's the difference? Many of the things we want are not a necessity in our life.

Also, many of our wants are not what God wants for us. He never has any trouble distinguishing between our wants and needs, although we frequently do. In the case of material things, we may want a new car, but not need one. If our current car is working well and causing no problems, we don't need a new one, just because the new ones are fancier or more attention-getting. Maybe God wants you to save the money you'd make in payments on that new car and put it aside for a rainy day.

Your biggest source of discouragement

Your biggest source of discouragement as a single comes in wanting a happy, satisfying relationship with someone but not being able to get that. You pray every day and ask God to send someone into your life, but nothing seems to be happening.

We singles are often too close to our own situation to see it clearly. We may insist that a want is a need, when it really isn't. And, we may pray for something, hoping God will drop it down from heaven in our lap, with no effort on our part. Wrongo!

We need to do whatever we can in the situation, while still asking God for his help. You'll never meet a spouse by just sitting home and praying about it! You need to take positive action so potential spouses can meet you and get to know you. It's a cliche' to say that "The Lord helps those who help themselves," but that old saying has stuck around so long because there's a lot of truth in it.

So what can you do?

So what can you do when discouragement hits? How can you get through it and send it on its way as quickly as possible?

Recognize that these feelings are a part of everybody's life and are nothing to be ashamed of. Christians, as well as nonChristians, get discouraged. Don't let guilt be added to the situation as well.

Remember that when Elijah became discouraged, God ministered to him compassionately, building up his strength and courage again. God hasn't changed. He'll do the same for you.

Remember that a "wait" answer to your prayers is not the same as a "no" answer. You may think you're mature or ready for what you're asking for, but God knows you better than you know yourself. He may be preparing you for this gift so he can give it to you in his perfect timing.

Try to take a step back from your situation and see it objectively. You may need to have a trusted friend help you with this. Are you really doing everything you possibly can to make it come about? Did you give up too soon? Are there other opportunities or possibilities you haven't explored? Have you tried to go through, over, under, and around the obstacle?

How to do what Elijah did

Like Elijah, take a rest. The worry and frustration of discouragement can be exhausting. It makes us want to quit because our strength is running low.

At times like those, a strategic retreat is in order. Get away for a while, do something you enjoy, or, like Elijah, get some much-needed sleep. The world always looks better when you're well-rested.

And, if discouragement slips into depression, see your doctor and tell her about it. There is no stigma in being depressed, even if you're a Christian. Because our standards are so much higher than nonChristians', we may be even more prone to depression.

After you've rested and can see things from a fresh perspective, take inventory of your needs--real needs, now--and determine whether God is meeting them. Health? Food, shelter, clothing? Friends and family?

Then resolve, again, to get back into the battle. Ask God for enthusiasm, determination, and faith. Be realistic in your expectations.

How to approach your problem

Break the problem down into smaller steps that are not so intimidating. Start nibbling away at those smaller steps so they can lead you to the accomplishment of your bigger goal.

Thank God every day for his help, believing that he will bring people and resources into your life to assist you. Keep a close watch on your health, energy level, and mental attitude. Back off when you get too tired or frustrated.

And most of all, don't ever doubt that because you are not married or cannot seem to grasp the thing you want that God doesn't love you. No matter what disappointments or discouragement you may be going through, God's love for you is the one, supreme, absolute sure thing in your life. That never changes, just as God never changes.

And the God who never changes can change your situation in one surprising, stunning moment of time. God never gives up on you, and you should never give up on him.

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More on discouragement:

How can you find your way back from hopelessness?

Being single and sick doesn't have to be a terrifying experience...

When loss hits your life, what can you do?

Want to regain your enthusiasm for life? Click here!

How to get back up when life knocks you down...

Why you should NEVER neglect yourself...

Can changing your expectations change your life?

When temptation calls, how do you respond?

What you need when you're trying to break free...

What alternative does God give you instead of worrying?

Fighting sadness is a crucial skill in the life of singles...

Ever have the feeling that you just don't fit in?

What to do when you're being misunderstood...

How can you recover when you've been hurt by dishonesty?

5 tips for beating the holiday blues...

The happiest people in the world may not be who you think

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