There is no discouragement quite like facing an impossible task, especially if you’re someone who’s used to getting things done. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t make progress. The more work you do, the deeper into the hole you go. The more it feels like you accomplish, the more work appears to regenerate.
People talk about money pits. Well, projects can be time pits. Hope pits. Excitement pits. Where no matter how much energy and enthusiasm you pour into a project, it’s never satisfied, and you don’t have enough to keep investing in it. And pretty soon you feel like an empty shell because you’ve poured everything you are into the black hole of your aspirations, and you still haven’t accomplished anything.
Anybody been there? Anybody been at that moment where you just don’t care anymore? The irony is that you’ve convinced yourself that you haven’t accomplished anything, and that’s a complete lie. Because if you were thinking straight, you’d be able to see what you’ve done, and you’d be able to see how good it is. But when you get to that point, everything feels wrong and broken and not worth doing.
So what do you do? How do you handle discouragement on that level, when you can’t escape it and you’re not strong enough to fight it?
Today’s verses are Exodus 14:13-14.
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
When I get discouraged, my first reaction is to work harder. If I have the time to feel sorry for myself, I must not be busy enough. Or if I’m feeling like I’m not accomplishing anything, I just need to get more done, and that will fix the problem. Neither of those reactions are helpful or even true. That’s usually why it’s important to have someone close to you around so they can remind you of the truth.
Even the biggest projects can be completed one step at a time. It’s just having the discipline to keep taking one step at a time over and over again until it’s finished. That’s the hard part. And on some days it can feel like all you’re doing is spinning your wheels, and in those moments, discouragement is always hovering close at hand.
But when you start feeling that way, just stop what you’re doing. If you’re discouraged and you keep plugging away at a project to make yourself feel better, just stop. It won’t help you.
If you’re facing a physical problem that’s keeping you from accomplishing your goals, that’s one thing. If you’re facing a financial problem, that’s something else. But discouragement is more than that. Discouragement is spiritual and emotional, and you can’t overcome discouragement by loading yourself down with more work.
When the Israelites were scared, God didn’t want them to do anything but trust Him. He wanted them to stand still and be calm, and He’d take care of the rest. And that’s the lesson I need to learn today.
I have a lot of challenges facing me. There are things I know how to handle. There are things I don’t. A lot of it I’m just making up as I go along. And if I think about it all too much, I get overwhelmed, because I know how little control I have over my own life. I’ve always known that I’m not in control, but this is the first time I’ve tried to embrace it. And it’s harder than I thought it would be, but once I let go, it’s not up to me anymore. Which is funny, because it was never up to me in the first place.
Too many times I try to fight battles I can’t win. I jump into the fray because I want to be useful. I want to help. I want to show God that He can trust me, that He can depend on me, and show Him that I’m willing to do whatever He asks me to do. But what if He’s just asking me to be still? Do I love Him enough to do that for Him? Do I love Him enough to step back when He asks me to? Do I love Him enough to slow down?
Maybe you’re facing an impossible task, and if that’s the case, great. God will help you achieve it, but you have to let God work. If it’s truly impossible, you can’t make it happen. So you have to take a seat and let God do His thing.
You may be watching God work, but God is working. Let Him. And then focus on what He is doing, what you get to be a part of. Once you see it from that perspective, it will be difficult to stay discouraged.