In order to give courage, we first need to be able to recognize discouragement. Someone who is discouraged is someone who may be frustrated, easily irritated, annoyed, or negative. They might be set off by situations that seem trivial or insignificant, but discouragement infects all areas of our lives. Instead of reacting in grace, love, and encouragement to the discouraged, we often fire back negativity, insults, hard truth, and anger. It can be difficult to have compassion for a discouraged friend who is expressing it through frustration, but if we can diagnose it quickly, we may be able to offer a cure instead of more pain.
Another symptom of discouragement is fatigue. Discouraged people are physically and emotionally exhausted. They may not be emotionally available. They may feel like the only thing they can give their energy to after a long day is to sit on the couch and stare at a screen. In this situation we often exacerbate the problem by offering “healthy living” suggestions such as working out, eating healthy, and making less lazy decisions. We misdiagnose discouragement and try to provide a worldly cure that further fuels the discouragement.
In order to offer the cure that discouraged people need, we must to rely on God. If we rely on our own strength, we will retaliate with what we are receiving or fall into the trap of discouragement ourselves. In order to offer courage to those in need, we must rely on the source of courage. God offers courage that will never run out. He is the source of grace and selfless love that we need to bring to the discouraged.
Reflection/Discussion Question: After reading the symptoms of discouragement, how have you treated people in your life who are discouraged?