WHEN DISCOURAGEMENT KNOCKS

Discouragement knocked at the door last month. Eleven people showed up at our revival meeting. I didn’t answer the door. We had a great time without him.

Two months ago discouragement knocked on Sunday afternoon after I preached a less than average message. I opened the door for a couple hours, but then made him leave. He didn’t go easily, but I persisted, and he finally made his way out. Once in, he really wants to stay. It would have been better not to let him enter in the first place.

Ten years ago while the director of Lutheran Renewal, some memories surfaced that brought considerable pain. Discouragement knocked. I opened the door and invited him to stay, which he did for over a week. I was unaware of it, but he let Self-Pity in while I wasn’t looking, and they spent time together. They got on like long-time friends.

The whole atmosphere changed. I found it hard to laugh. I sure got serious. I talked freely about Discouragement both at home and at staff meetings. Decision-making was harder, and I made one dumb one, which I attribute to Discouragement’s influence on me. I really didn’t think right with him around. (Same for Elijah and John the Baptist).

Looking back, Discouragement seemed to make me focus upon myself, no doubt with help from Self-Pity. I relived my situation many times during that week. I got less done and had less energy because I had less joy. Toward the end of that time, I began to wonder why I had invited Discouragement in. He was anything but a friend. His presence sucked the energy out of me, robbed me of time, and took away an easy-going outlook. And I didn’t care for the people Discouragement hung around with.

That is why I didn’t open the door last month. I knew Discouragement was always looking for how to ruin peoples’ night—or week. Sadly, he has destroyed some peoples’ lives when they found it impossible to evict him. Some are so used to Discouragement living with them that they cannot imagine life with him. Others have managed to dismiss him, only to discover that he gets in again through the back door. And when he enters, he usually is able to kick Gratitude and Humility out while we’re sleeping or away at work. I don’t function well without these family members. And the longer he stays, the harder it is to kick him out. He seems to feel like he belongs. Strangely, we can feel like he does, too.

It’s possible, even if he keeps knocking, to ignore him. I have discovered that when I let him in,

  1. I think of myself too much and of others not enough;
  2. I waste time I don’t have—and get more discouraged;
  3. I turn from a victor to a victim;
  4. I get real serious and become a regular grouch.

Now I live by this principle: When Discouragement knocks, I don’t answer. Period!

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