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Taking Care of Your Emotions

Description: Discover why discouragement is so dangerous… The meaning of discouragement… Three stages discouragement… The 10 causes of discouragement… 2 essential facts about discouragement… 10 choices to defeat discouragement… And much more!

TAKING CARE OF YOUR EMOTIONS
Take Care – Week 5
By Andy Manning
March 24, 2019

The title of this sermon is “Taking Care of Your Emotions.” This is week five of our sermon series “Take Care.”

The big idea is that you need to take care of yourself, because if you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of others. If you don’t take care of your business, then you won’t be able to take care of God’s business.

Today we’re going to talk about taking care of your emotions. Specifically, we are going to talk about how to defeat the emotion of discouragement.

Judas was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. He spent three years in the constant company of the Savior. He saw Jesus feed the multitudes, and calm the sea, and walk on water, and heal the sick, and raise the dead. But in the end, Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. And that’s what Judas is famous for. But betraying Jesus was not his biggest mistake. His biggest mistake was discouragement. Matthew 27:3-5:

3 Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. 4 “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” he said.

“What’s that to us?” they said. “See to it yourself!” 5 So he threw the silver into the temple and departed. Then he went and hanged himself.

Judas’ biggest mistake was not betraying Jesus. Who among us has not betrayed Jesus? Peter denied Christ three times. All of the apostles abandoned Jesus on the night He was arrested. We have all betrayed Jesus. Judas’ biggest mistake was discouragement. He allowed discouragement to defeat him. He realized his mistake. He realized that he had done wrong. He admitted his mistake. He even returned the blood money. But then, instead of returning to God for forgiveness, he committed suicide. He gave up. He didn’t just give up on God, or on the Christian life. He gave up on life.

WHY IS DISCOURAGEMENT DANGEROUS?

The story of Judas powerfully illustrates the danger discouragement.

It can lead to chronic sadness, or depression – the loss of joy.

It can lead to lowered standards. How many young women have gotten discouraged with waiting for a godly Christian man, and so they lowered their standards and married an ungodly man?

Discouragement can lead to compromise, as you look to sinful pleasures to numb the pain. A lot of people, for example, turn to food to drown out their discouragement, and that’s not healthy.

Discouragement can lead to quitting rather than finishing. To giving up prematurely. I quit my AAU basketball team early in the season because I was discouraged that the coach wouldn’t start me. I regret that.

Discouragement is dangerous because it can lead to a loss of enthusiasm. A loss of passion. A lack of inner-motivation. And it is impossible to do your best without enthusiasm and passion.

Discouragement is also dangerous because it is contagious. When you are discouraged, it can rub off on others. When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses sent out some spies to check things out. When they came back, they talked about how dangerous it would be, and how strong the inhabitants were, and how it would be impossible to take the land. So they discouraged the entire nation of Israel. Because of discouragement they had to wait forty more years before they could try again. Hannah Whitall Smith wrote, “Nothing is more catching than discouragement.”

And finally, discouragement is dangerous because, like Judas, it can lead to suicide.

WHAT IS DISCOURAGEMENT?

The definition of discouragement is “a loss of confidence or enthusiasm (Google).”

The Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary says that discouragement is “a feeling of having lost hope or confidence.”

The MacMillan Dictionary says discouragement is “the feeling you get when you have not achieve something and think it is useless to keep trying.”

A writer named Christine Hoover described discouragement like this: “I’m talking about the days when we question if our lives matter, if what we’re doing counts for anything, if God is at work.”

Another writer named Whitney Hopler said, “A stale marriage. A chronic health condition. A prolonged period of unemployment. Discouragement sets in when you start to feel a sense of hopelessness about your future – when it seems like the troubling circumstances you’re going through won’t ever improve.”

The synonyms for discouragement are helpful in describing what it means. Afflicted, beat down, demoralized, depressed, dismayed, distressed, dispirited, intimidated, dejected, disappointed.

The Institute in Basic Life Principles describes THREE STAGES OF DISCOURAGEMENT.

ONE: MILD discouragement can occur when a person experiences minor problems or pressures that affect his emotions. For the most part, this level of discouragement goes unnoticed by others and is not long-lasting.

TWO: STRONG discouragement can occur when we face major problems or pressures. This level of discouragement affects our spirits. In our words and actions, others can easily observe both physical and emotional indications of discouragement.

THREE: DISABLING discouragement. If we become overwhelmed by problems or pressures, we experience disabling discouragement (i.e., depression), which drains us of spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical strength. When this happens, our hearts “melt” within us, and we have no desire, energy, or ability to go on.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF DISCOURAGEMENT?

In order to defeat discouragement, we have to understand where it comes from. What causes it? Why do we get discouraged? Unfortunately, many things can trigger discouragement.

ONE: DELAY. When it is taking longer than expected to get over a sickness, to get pregnant, to get married, to lose weight, to break a habit, to mend your marriage, it is tempting to get discouraged.

We started Church Acadiana in 2005, and we still don’t have our own building. I’ve been tempted by discouragement many times along the way.

TWO: DISAPPROVAL. When others reject you, or criticize you, or disapprove of you, or abandon you, it is tempting to get discouraged.

Just about every time someone leaves the church I’m tempted with discouragement. A few years ago I preached on taking care of your body, and someone wrote me a very ugly note on their Connection Card about how I was way out of line, and that church was not the place to talk about physical fitness. It was hard to not let that discourage me. In high school I had two friends that both committed suicide when their girlfriends dumped them.

THREE: DOUBT. “Did I choose the wrong career? Did I marry the wrong person? Does God even care about me? Is obedience worth it? Is this even possible? Am I ever going to get through this?”

FOUR: DIRECTION. When it looks like you’re headed for trouble. When the future looks bleak, it is tempting to get discouraged. When it looks like hardship is on the way, and you’re headed for troubled waters. When you hear that you have cancer; when you hear that your unborn child may be disabled; when you hear that your company is planning on laying you off.

As a pastor one of the hardest things for me to hear is that one of our members is going to be moving away. When Will and Angie told me they were moving, and when Nathan and Connie told me they were moving, that was tough to hear. It was very tempting to get discouraged.

FIVE: DEFEAT. Failure can lead to discouragement. Failure is a part of life and it can be tough to deal with.

I read recently that every year in America 500,000 new businesses are started. After one year, 20 percent of them fail. After 10 years, 96 percent of them fail, meaning only 4 percent of new businesses survive longer than ten years. There’s an awful lot of failure going on, and it’s tough.

SIX: DIFFICULTY. When life gets tough, it can get you down. When you are battling an illness, or chronic pain, or sleeplessness, or relationship problems, or financial problems, or even when you are going through a very busy season, it can be discouraging.

I’ve been battling a chronic illness since the end of 2017. I haven’t felt good since November 15, 2017. Discouragement knocks on my door every day; multiple times a day.

SEVEN: DISAPPOINTMENT. When you don’t get what you wanted. When something doesn’t work out the way you hoped. When you don’t get that job that you applied for, or that promotion, or that raise. When you have to cancel your vacation plans. When you are hoping to do something really fun, and then your plans are canceled. When your marriage is not turning out the way you wanted. When your career is not turning out the way you wanted. When your kids are not turning out the way you wanted. When your life is not turning out the way you hoped.

EIGHT: DISRESPECT. When people are mean to you, or rude to you, it can be discouraging. When you are treated less than. Or when people don’t appreciate you; they don’t acknowledge you; they don’t show gratitude for your hard work; they don’t even notice your contribution. When you work much harder than your coworker, but they get the promotion; they get the praise.

NINE: DIFFERENCE. When you notice that others have it better than you, it can tempt you to get discouraged. When you see others driving nicer cars than you, and living in nicer homes than you, and having better careers than you, and having marriages than you, and more talented kids than you, and a wealthier husband than you, and a better looking body than you, it can get you down.

TEN: DISABILITY. When you have a disability that prevents you from doing what you want to do, or that is making life harder on you, it can be discouraging.

When I broke my arm a few years ago, it was a big inconvenience. I couldn’t play the guitar. I couldn’t type and write sermons. I couldn’t do yard work. I couldn’t even take a shower. It was a discouraging time.

2 ESSENTIAL FACTS ABOUT DISCOURAGEMENT

There are many causes of discouragement. Many things that can lead to discouragement, or tempt us to discouragement. But if you are going to defeat discouragement, there are two essential truths that you need to know.

ONE: DISCOURAGEMENT MUST BE DEFEATED, NOT TOLERATED.

The Bible commands us to avoid discouragement. John 14:1 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” Galatians 6:9 (AMP) “Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.”

As I said, discouragement can be deadly. It can be devastating. It can mess you up.

I heard an old story about the devil. One day the devil was auctioning off his tools. They were highly priced – laziness, pride, hate, envy, and jealousy. One tool was not for sale. One person asked, “Why is that tool not for sale?” Satan whispered, “I can’t afford to get rid of that one. It’s my chief tool – discouragement! I can pry open any heart with that tool, and once I’m inside, I can do anything I want!”

Discouragement is not to be tolerated. It’s not something you want to play with.

When you are tempted with discouragement, you must attack it with everything you have. Do not let it get a foothold.

John Piper wrote, “Discouragement is not to be tolerated or wallowed in. It’s to be fought. If we linger in discouragement it can be costly. Its sense of defeat and hopelessness saps us of energy and vision. It can consume a lot of time. It can keep us from doing what we need to do because we don’t want to face it. And it can even be contagious, weakening others’ faith.”

TWO: DISAPPOINTMENTS ARE INEVITABLE; DISCOURAGEMENT IS A CHOICE.

Discouragement is not caused by what happens to you; it is caused by your response to what happens to you.

You don’t have to live in a state of discouragement. You don’t have to give in to the temptation. You can choose differently. You can choose to avoid it. You can choose to overcome it. When discouragement knocks on your door, you don’t have to let it in.

How can I say that discouragement is a choice? Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

How can we choose to avoid discouragement?

10 CHOICES TO DEFEAT DISCOURAGEMENT

ONE: I WILL NOT COMPARE MYSELF TO OTHERS.

One of the reasons we get discouraged is because we compare ourselves to others. When we see that people have it better than us, we get discouraged. We think we can’t be happy unless we have what they have.

But it’s not fair to compare.

God is just, but He doesn’t treat everyone equally. Why? Because we are all different, and God has a different plan for all of us.

So just because someone else has something doesn’t mean you deserve it; and just because someone else has something doesn’t mean that it would be good for you to have it.

Instead of comparing yourself to others, you have to trust God in His dealings with you. Trust that He is doing what is best for you.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Trust that God is leading you along the best pathway for your life.

Remember that other people compare themselves to you and get discouraged. When other people look at your life, they think that you are so blessed and privileged. If you are going to compare yourself to others, compare yourself to the less fortunate.

TWO: I WILL NOT LET THE PAST DEFINE ME.

Sometimes we get discouraged because of our past failures; our past mistakes; our past sins. We think that because we failed in the past, we are destined to fail again. And so we allow our past to define us.

God wants to use you past to refine you, not to define you.

The pages of history are filled with people who failed time and time again, but they didn’t give up, and they eventually succeeded.

Dr. Seuss was rejected by twenty-seven publishers before being published.

The average self-made millionaire has been bankrupt 2.3 times before they broke through.

Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected by 144 authors before being published. Today the authors have published 147 titles, sold 115 million copies, or $1 billion worth of books, in 47 languages.

I like how the apostle Paul put it. Philippians 1:13 (ERV) “Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me.”

Don’t let the past define you. Learn from the past, but stay focused on the goals that God has given you.

THREE: I WILL NOT PUT LIMITS ON GOD.

One of the reasons we get discouraged is because we put limits on God. How do we do that? By the negative words that we use. “I can’t do it.” “It will never happen for me.” “I’ll never win.” “I’ll never succeed.” “It’s impossible.” “It’s over.” “It’s too late.” “I’m going to fail.” “I’m going to lose.” “It’s not going to work out.”

It is good to be realistic, but if you are pessimistic then you can’t be enthusiastic, and without enthusiasm you cannot succeed at anything.

Instead of saying negative things, you need to quote Scripture. Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Mark 9:23 “Everything is possible for the one who believes.” Philippians 4:13 “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.”

FOUR: I WILL NOT ALLOW MY CIRCUMSTANCES TO DICTATE MY ATTITUDE.

Many people struggle with discouragement because they are slaves to their circumstances. When life is going the way they want, they are happy. But when life is difficult, they are discouraged. They are slaves, but they don’t have to be.

To defeat discouragement, you must master your mood. You must take control of your emotions. You must control your attitude. Philippians 2:5 “Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope.”

When you are tempted to be discouraged, remember that you can choose your attitude. “No! I’m not going to allow discouragement to win. I’m going to choose joy. I’m going to be happy in the Lord. I’m going be hopeful. I’m going to be positive. I’m going to be optimistic.”

You must control your attitude, because your attitude determines your altitude. You can have all the talent, all the resources, all the intelligence, but if your attitude stinks, if you have stinkin’ thinkin’, then you won’t go very far. You must choose a positive, cheerful, joyful attitude.

Hannah Whitall Smith wrote about the importance of the attitude. “There is nothing that so paralyzes effort as discouragement, and nothing that more continually and successfully invites defeat. The secret of failure or success in any matter lies far more in the soul’s interior attitude than in any other cause or causes. It is a law of our being, which is only now beginning to be discovered, that the inward man counts for far more in every conflict than anything the outward man do or may possess.”

FIVE: I WILL NOT PLACE UNBIBLICAL EXPECTATIONS ON GOD.

A major reason for discouragement is that we place unbiblical expectations on God. We expect God to do for us what He hasn’t promised to do, and then we things don’t go as we expect, we get disappointed and discouraged.

One writer, Aimee Joseph, wrote about three unbiblical expectations that lead to discouragement.

One: God promises me a comfortable life. We expect God to make our lives easy.

Anyone believes that obviously hasn’t read the Bible, because it is filled with story after story of godly people who faced great difficulty. Jesus promised us that we would have problems in this world. John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Two: God should do things my way. We have bought into the lie that if we are devoted enough, then God will do what we want. He will give us what we pray for. And then when God doesn’t do what we want, we get discouraged.

But we have to remember that God is in charge, not us. And God knows what is best, not us. Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in heaven and does whatever he pleases.”

Three: God should work according to my timetable.

We have an idea of how longs things should take, of how long we should have to wait, and when God doesn’t follow our calendar, then we get discouraged.

But God is on His own timetable. 2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” God is never late. He is always on time.

SIX: I WILL FOCUS ON WHAT I CAN CONTROL. One of the main reasons for discouragement is focusing on things that we can’t change. Things we can’t control.

We get discouraged about the stock market; about politics; about the weather; about people rejecting us; about the past; about wrongs and injustices that we have suffered. Those are all things that are out of our hands. We can’t control them.

When David and Bathsheba had their first child, the baby became deathly ill. So David prayed and fasted and wept for seven days. Then the baby died. So David got up from the ground, took a bath, changed his clothes, went to the temple and worshipped, and then he got something to eat. His servants didn’t understand. They said, “When the baby was alive, you wept, and fasted, and prayed. But now that the baby is dead, you got up and ate.” Notice David’s answer. 2 Samuel 12:22-23 22 He answered, “While the baby was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let him live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.”

What was David saying? “I’m going to focus on what I can control.” Focus on what you can control, and leave the rest to God, because He is in control of everything.

SEVEN: I WILL REMEMBER MY BLESSINGS.

One of the reasons we get so discouraged is because we focus on everything we don’t have instead of what we do have. We focus on everything that’s not perfect in our lives instead of everything that is wonderful in our lives.

We focus on the fact that we don’t have the perfect job rather than the fact that we have a perfectly good job.

We focus on the fact that our marriage is not perfect rather than that our spouse is really a wonderful person.

We focus on the fact that we are not driving our dream car rather than the fact that we have a good car that gets us from point A to point B.

This is why it is important to remember your blessings. Take time in your daily prayer time to thank God.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMP) “in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

EIGHT: I WILL RELY UPON GOD FOR HAPPINESS.

One of the reasons for discouragement is that we rely upon the things of this world for happiness. We think we can’t be happy unless we have this much money, or this kind of house, or this kind of car, or this kind of body, or this kind of relationship.

But happiness does not come from having this world; it comes from God.

To avoid discouragement you have to learn to rely upon God for happiness, rather than the things of this world. How do you do that? Six Ways to Rely Upon God:

One: Pursue intimacy with God. Psalm 16:11 “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.”

Two: Obey God’s word. You can’t be happy if you are living in sin. If you are saved, then sin will make you miserable. Psalm 112:1 “Happy is the person who fears the Lord.”

Three: Devote your life to serving God, not yourself. 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Four: Trust in God’s attributes. Keep your eyes on the character of God. He is good. He is love. His is almighty. He sees you. He hears you. He is working it all together for your good. I like how John Piper put it. Don’t let your heart be ruled by what you see, but by what God promised you. Romans 8:28 “ We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God….”

Five: Focus on heaven, not earth. Don’t focus on earthly comforts and rewards, but on storing up heavenly rewards. Galatians 6:9 “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”

Six: Pray. 1 Peter 5:7 (MEV) “Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.”

NINE: I WILL LIVE FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE.

One of the reasons for discouragement is when people reject us; people disapprove of us; people criticize us; please don’t like us.

You have to remember the old saying. If you try to please everyone all of the time, you won’t please anyone at any time.

To avoid the discouragement of rejection, you have to choose ahead of time who you are going to live to please. And there’s only one right answer to that. God.

Let Paul be your example. Galatians 1:10 (NLT) “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

TEN: I WILL DEVELOP A BIBLICAL DEFEINITOIN OF SUCCESS.

A final reason for discouragement is that we have the wrong definition of success.

We define success according the standards of the world, rather than God. We define success by wealth, by applause, by recognition, but possessions. We define success by looking at the numbers. Dollars, customers, square footage, the number of toys, the number of awards.

Preachers are bad at this. They tend to define success with the three Bs: Buildings, Bucks, and Butts. But none of this is truly success.

I always resort back to Charles Stanley’s definition of success: Becoming the person God wants me to be and accomplishing God’s goals for my life.

Over the years I’ve battled discouragement for this very reason, so one day I sat down and I worked out a Biblical Definition of Success:

Success is…
• discovering God’s will for your life and doing it.
• relational, not circumstantial.
• about character, not achievement.
• about management, not ownership.
• about input, not outcome.
• how you behave alone and in the home, not on stage.

Success is not…
• Outer beauty, but inner character.
• Intelligence, but wisdom and knowledge.
• winning, but how you respond to failure.
• what you have, but what you do with what you have.
• what you accumulate, but what you send ahead.
• how many people serve you, but how well you serve others.
• a destination, but a journey.
• how well you start, but how well you finish.

That’s success. If you focus on Biblical success, then the only thing that can prevent you from succeeding is you.

CONCLUSION

Discouragement is no joke. It can take you out. It can sideline you. It can literally take your life.

But the good news is that it is a choice. Disappointments are inevitable; discouragement is a choice.

Starting today, stop letting discouragement win. Take your life back. Live a life of peace, and joy, and hope, and enthusiasm, and Biblical success.

Listen to the words of Pastor John Piper: “Think of discouragement as your faith being choked. When you’re choking, it’s not the time to plop down in front of the TV with a plate of comfort food to medicate your melancholy. You need to dislodge the obstruction so you can breathe. You need to fight for life. You may need to get someone to give you the Heimlich. Go get encouragement — faith-fueled courage. Don’t let discouragement choke you. It’s dislodged by believing promises. God gave us the Bible so that “through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).”

Taking Care of Your Emotions