“I seem to have hit a wall,” she said. “I was doing so well, but now, I don’t know. I seem stuck. And I can’t figure out why.” She sounded so discouraged.
My sweet friend is a recovering addict. She just began her journey to sobriety and health about six months ago. She is doing remarkably well. But she feels stuck.
Sixty-six. That’s the number today. She has been completely clean for sixty-six days. But she has been improving and growing and becoming new for many more days than that. Like most of us, she slipped a few times. She took two steps forward, and then, yes, she tumbled one back. But for six months she has made steady progress. In fact, I’ve never met anyone so determined to become healthy…physically, emotionally, spiritually. No one is pulling this woman along. She said “yes” somewhere deep down in her spirit. And she gets up each morning and works…hard…toward recovery.
But she feels stuck. She’s discouraged. She has been withdrawing to herself and feeling lonely. She is mad at herself because she’s not as far along as she’d like to be. And she’s tired of working on herself. She’s ready to work on something else, for Pete’s sake. I get it.
I looked across the table at my dear friend and my eyes searched for hers. I spoke plainly.
“You may feel like today you are no better off than your were yesterday. I know that feels discouraging. But don’t measure by yesterday. Consider where you were six months ago. You’re a different person. New. Alive. Motivated. Beautiful. You are making great progress and you are going to do this thing. God is at work and He is not discouraged with you.”
The corners of her mouth lifted and the light returned to her eyes…for just a few seconds. Why is it that we reach fast and hungry for encouragement when we get just a glimpse of it? And then we talk ourselves down from grabbing hold of it? That’s what discouragement urges us to do. That’s what she did. I saw it. But I just smiled and pressed in. I wasn’t going to let my friend beat herself up. God is doing mighty things in her life and she needs to see it the way I do, the way a friend does.
Do You Need Encouragement?
Maybe you feel stuck, too. Perhaps you are weary of working on yourself, too. I understand. More importantly, God understands. He knows that we will grow tired. But you need to know that He does not grow tired…of you, of your two steps forward and one tumble backward, of your questions and concerns, of your doubts, of your insecurities. Sure, He is working to alleviate those things. But He doesn’t throw His holy hands up in the air, roll His eyes or sigh in disgust. He loves you too much for that.
My bet is, like my sweet girlfriend, you are making more progress in the right direction than you are making mistakes. I have a feeling that if you look far enough back in your rear view mirror you wouldn’t even recognize the vision you’d see of yourself. I bet you have changed and developed and grown that much. And I bet you’d see moments of bravery and days of hard work and leaps of faith when you look in that mirror, too.
Handle Discouragement Like Jesus
Think back to that scripture passage in Matthew 4 when Jesus had been led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He had fasted forty days and nights, and he was weak and hungry. We don’t know if Satan had already been badgering Jesus for that forty days and nights or not, but in verse three we see the first of three recorded temptations Satan leveled at the Messiah. The way I see it, among other things, Satan was trying to discourage an already tired and depleted Jesus. He wanted Him to abandon the Father’s plan for Him and take a more expedient, “easier” route. He tempted Jesus by bringing into question His ability to press on, to go the long haul.
The enemy would like to make you think you can’t finish well, too. He’ll hit you in your most vulnerable moments and try to convince you that God’s plan is too hard and you just don’t have what it takes.
Friend, respond to the enemy the same way your Savior did. Go to God’s Word and grab hold of the truth. Believe it, speak it and fight back with it.
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. (Psalm 138:8)
God is at work. Hang in there today. And take courage. Take some cheer, too. He delights in you, sweet sister. He is not shaking His head in bewilderment. His eyes were shining with anticipation as He watched you awaken this morning. He takes such joy in you, you know.
If your heart has been wounded and you are waiting for God to bring the healing that only He can bring, I’d like to suggest you try my Bible study, Joseph – Keeping a Soft Heart in a Hard Place. You’ll find more information here.