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Are you discouraged today? What is it that has left an enormous and uninvited deposit of discouragement in your heart?

Perhaps it is the "same old — same old" of daily life that has finally stolen all hope from your heart. You have regretfully determined that nothing will ever change for you and that your current circumstances are sure to be your future reality.

Perhaps you have prayed without ceasing and have spoken the language of hope, even when others have thought you foolish. But now, because of discouragement, your prayers are not as fervent and your words have become tauntingly realistic rather than faith-filled. Do you erroneously imagine that your dreams have been too big and now it is time for you to settle for second best?

Discouragement is pervasive, it's intrusive and it is all encompassing. Discouragement never comes alone but often invites its first cousins to accompany him; those cousins are named "despair," "hopelessness" and "sadness." And when discouragement lingers past a reasonable amount of time, you can bet that its difficult grandfather, "Papa Depression," is sure to show up in your life! Grandpa Depression holds all the revenue, all the legacy and all the forgotten possibilities of this lineage.

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So, I ask again ... are you discouraged today?

I too have been fighting off discouragement and I hope what I am learning will be a source of encouragement to you.

First, God never speaks through discouragement. If you are wondering if your discouragement is from God, wonder no longer. God speaks through peace, hope and joy. Don't listen to the voice of discouragement because it is not the Father's voice.

Secondly, don't be afraid of the wait. Dreamers such as you and I often forget or even ignore the benefits that waiting can usher into the equation of life. Waiting makes us stronger, changes people's hearts and minds, purifies the dream and shapes the dream into something more beautiful than it could ever be on its own. If you are a dreamer, remind yourself today that time is on your side!

My third suggestion is this — rather than choosing to embrace discouragement as a necessary member of your circle of friends, set an achievable goal today. When the deepest dreams of your heart seem out of reach and discouragement is filling every cell of your being, do something that you can accomplish. Do something that is possible in this very moment. Perhaps you could go for a walk, call a friend, go to a conference, give a donation, read your Bible, clean out a closet, plant some flowers, bake some bread for your neighbor, ask a friend to have coffee with you, buy a gift or simply smile at a stranger. The list is endless of all the things that you can accomplish while you are waiting for your dreams to come true!

Don't allow discouragement to paralyze your soul! Don't give discouragement the pleasure of pressing "pause" on your ability to minister or on your deep desire to encourage others. Discouragement and encouragement are like the Hatfields and McCoys ... they try to shoot each other down with each other's opposing intentions and opinions. I'll side with encouragement any day of the year!

You will find a mega dose of encouragement in the Word of God. If you are battling discouragement today, simply open your Bible and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your troubled soul. One of my favorite verses has always been this one:

"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity; to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11, NASB1995).

Are you especially desperate today and thirsting for God's opinion on your life? You've come to the right place! Linger in this verse for a minute or two:

"I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good... I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul" (Jer. 32:40; 41, NASB1995).

Be encouraged today, my friend! You are not forgotten! Keep dreaming, keep praying, keep hoping and keep believing! God and I are cheering you on!

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Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

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