Feeling discouraged & despondent

Hi everyone,

Lately I have been feeling discouraged, despondent even anxious at times. I am not losing my faith necessarily. I still believe in God and trust in Jesus however what makes me discouraged and anxious is how the world around me is becoming more and more Godless everyday and how there is a rise of anti-Christian sentiment.

I see how faithful, Christian people are being fired from their jobs just because they mentioned their belief in marriage being between a man and a woman. All types of people are also being fired for saying that there are only 2 genders. These people are then being labelled ‘homophobic’ or ‘transphobic’.

I see how Christians and others who are pro-life (anti-abortion) being vilified and cancelled - even being taken to court at times. Christians are being persecuted everywhere. This coupled with the amount of pain and suffering in the world - it just really overwhelms me.

I also at times feel ‘guilty’ that I am not ‘suffering’ along with my brothers and sisters or guilty that I am not doing more to help.

I am currently a Master’s student studying in Manchester UK and I should really be focusing on my studies but I feel so demotivated at times that it sometimes a struggle just to get out of bed, my mind is having all these thoughts. At times I even feel just like putting a gun to my head just so I can shut of my thoughts - and just focus on what I need to do.

Can you please offer me some advice or encouragement - have others felt the same at some time in their Christian walk?

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The righteous shall not be moved, though ten thousand may fall by your side, if you stand with the Lord, you will not be moved. At times I feel discouraged too because of what is going on in the world, but as I learn more about whom God is, I see my poor standing before Him, which draws me closer to His mercy. Yes, we’re in trouble, but the Lord is with us, and if so, who can be against us? Therefore stand strong in the Lord, faint not, there are many that are seeking to learn how to stand, be a good example to them, endure till the Lord calls you home, we might be down, but we’re not out and greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world. Be of good cheer, for the Lord Jesus has finished it!

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I want to stand by you and encourage you, brother, that you are not alone in feeling discouraged, despondent, and even anxious. Many of us in very recent modern times in the western world have never really had to experience genuine persecution like we are now, nor like our ancient brothers and sisters in Christ did during their time so I think it’s catching many of us a bit off guard. Now, today, obviously some believers in this part of the world do or have experienced life threatening persecution or have even become martyrs for Him depending on where in the world He sends us. Again, though, for many of us the reality of actual persecution is now, well…a very real thing.

Others on this very site have encouraged me greatly on this very topic as I recently asked a similar thing (Is it evidence of a lack of faith to be anxious about what may be about to happen across the western world?). Hopefully it can be of some help to you, too.

The Lord is our Champion and He is with us, but we have to be ready to suffer for His name’s sake. It’s an honor to do so, unpleasant for the moment as it may be. Here’s a verse from Isaiah 49:10 that I hope will be of some comfort to you.

“fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

He knows you by name, Gareth, and He’s with you now closer than a brother. He even knows exactly how many hairs you have on your head (and how many you’ll have tomorrow!).

And Paul in his letter to the Philippians on suffering for Jesus. Philippians 3:8-10

“8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,”

And 2 Timothy 3:12:

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.

Everything these people are doing is because, in reality, they hate Him.

John 15:17-19

" 17This is My command to you: Love one another. 18If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. 19If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.…"

My sincere prayer for you at the moment is that He will keep you strong in Him and the power of His might. That He will give you strength in the face of it all to joyfully, confidently, and fearlessly maintain your testimony of Him in a spirit of gentleness and love. That you will even come to find it a joyful blessing to suffer for His name’s sake if He requires it of you. And may He cause you to be a mighty witness of His reality, that He is Who He said He is, and cause many to come to faith in Him.

I say this as much to myself as I do to you. All of the riches this world can possibly offer are utterly nothing compared to being known by and made truly alive in Him. The suffering is very, very much worth it.

And PLEASE do not do this.

In His love.

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Thank you for your words Bret. I needed to read this - it can be a lonely walk at times being a Christian and it does get to me. Doubts creep in and the temptation at times is to just want an ‘easy’ and comfortable life and not always be in opposition to everything around you. To just ‘go with the flow’ as it were - to just ‘fit in’.

At times when I feel like this - I do ask - is it really worth it? And similar questions come to mind. I know all the verses you have quoted and I know all the theology behind them - but unfortunately my heart and flesh fail and I get dragged down into theses ‘low’ moments. But I am hanging on and to know that others feel the same as I do at times is a great comfort. We really do need each other, to build each other up and support one another and I am so grateful for you and this community for standing by my side.

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Thank you Julio for your words. I know God is on my side and trust me, I know how short I fall of his glory everyday. Being of ‘good cheer’ is difficult for me and finding ‘joy’ has always been something that I struggle with - it’s because as I said I feel ‘guilty’ if I am happy knowing that so many others are suffering out there. I wish I could just live in the moment but it is difficult for me.

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Hello my friend and fellow laborer in the field that is ripe for the harvest. I am praying for you and would encourage you to share your struggle with the same minded people you are closest to in your life.
I made the choice not to get an education, which was a mistake, therefore I am so proud of you for being strong, doing that and would ask what your focusing on as a major?

I would also like to share my appreciation to those who have reached out to you during these difficult times. There are many of us who feel like you do in these days but let us realize we are in great company with that great cloud of witnesses who have come before us and living with us right now.

Mark 14: 32-41 is our best friend and another witness dealing with the same things we are

Lastly I consider you a like minded companion as all these and part of this company. May we continue in the mindset that we fight from victory not for victory. Many are praying that strength is made perfect in our weakness. God bless and keep my friend.

Mike

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Hi Mike,

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I am studying an MA in Digital Technologies, Communication & Education, which will hopefully make me a better teacher. I took a year off to study and will return to my job straight after. I teach Computer Science and Information & Communications Technology (ICT) to 11-16 olds.

It does bring me comfort that even Jesus was distressed and anxious because he knew he had to suffer. I am grateful to you and everyone for your prayers - I will try to seek God’s face and the peace only he can give right now. :pray:

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When Covid-19 hit I felt a sense of panic, at first. Trying to hold on to what I believed was true. At first, it seemed a wash. My beliefs seem only to be valid when certain things were apparent. How could this have happened? How would we survive? None of the talking heads offered hope. Wait they assured us. Stand six feet from each other and wear a mask and though many of you will die your best chance is to quit your job and stay at home.

From the hollow chambers of my heart, I heard. First, one of my sisters, the queen of “Ooooo what’s that noise,” sufficiently summarized the issue. Secondly, I heard from the Lord. My sister said; “this panic has nothing to do with a disease. This is about the fear of dying. And we are all going to die.” Then while in persistent and tearful prayer I was chastised. “Don’t talk to me like you have made a discovery that somehow slipped by me!” “I was GOD before and I am GOD now!” “Don’t equate your feelings to my ability. I am GOD! There are no surprises!”

That quiet chastisement was all I needed. To banish my fear to face the uncertainty of the future. Nothing gets past GOD! If it is here, it serves a purpose. If it is here, it bears gifts that may not be visible in eyes clouded with grief and fear. Days like these have become a clarion call to my ability to trust the Lord. Not His ability to restore what I feel is familiar, comfortable, and necessary.

I would like to say that those revelations banished all future concerns. But sometimes it does not. However, once I accept that I stand in a position at the end of my ability, at the demise of what I have known as normal; it is easier to relinquish my control and join the patriarch Job when he concludes. "If a man die, shall he live again ? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.(Job-14:14). “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job-1-21)

I always believed that I would be long gone from this reality before such perilous times arrived. But all about me, just as you do; I see I am living in the last days. Yet, these are just the beginnings of sorrow. (Matthew 24:6-13) Will GOD be as faithful now as I have declared Him to be in previous times.

The answer I am repeatedly finding is Yes! Despite the pervasiveness of my human heart and emotions, once I remember nothing gets past the Lord; then my strength is renewed.

It is an honor to serve Him with each of you during such bemusing times. If ever the witness of the Gospel was muted, it is on full volume now!

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Hi Gareth, thank you for responding and the gracious words. I think your courage and honesty to reach out through your distress is a great sign that you care about the world around you and the young people in your care. That kind of teacher who cared made a wonderful impact on my life when I was young. May He bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and give you that peace.

Mike

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I appreciate the heart behind your question. It’s a heaviness I think many of us feel, even if we don’t always have the courage to bring it up.

In many ways, I don’t think what you describe is unbiblical. This Ask Away podcast describes a Christian whose homesickness for heaven actually stemmed from knowing how wonderful heaven would be. If we as image bearers of God are made for fellowship with God in heaven, it would make sense for us to feel the troubles and persecution of this world especially strongly because we know it is not how things should be.

I learned in a sermon recently there are four kinds of psalms - and the psalms of lament, like psalm 42, are actually an example of how he wants us to praise Him when the world around us feels dark. I used to think the psalmist was sinning by complaining and then “got it right” at the end when he praised God. However, bringing concerns to God is like a little child going to its parent for comfort. As the child nestles into a parent’s lap to voice his concerns, he naturally feels a new depth to the relationship and can speak of its beauty. God wants to hear from you, even when you’re coming to Him from a depth of despair. Have the courage to keep starting these conversations both here on Connect, with those around you and with God in prayer.

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I totally understand, Gareth. :slight_smile: Hopefully I didn’t come across as merely “preachy”. This threat of being locked down under a communist state in the U.S. really hit me hard. In fact, I’d call it quite a shakeup. I have been praying very earnestly that He will keep us, the body of Christ, faithful to Him through it all. It may not come to any of this (I sure pray so!), but if it does…I want you, me, all of us to come through shining for Him. I have been forced to look at the state of my own heart towards the Lord much more closely.

Oh yes indeed it is. It’s worth every bit of the pain and difficulty. Every bit indeed. We are like soldiers in a war, aren’t we? Right now we’re in the cold, muddy trenches with shells dropping all around, but our King, who is here in it with us, is always victorious. It makes me think of this verse from Isaiah 54:17

"No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

Fully agreed, we need each other in Christ! We need each other’s support and to share what’s on our hearts with each other and to strengthen each other all in His love and gentleness. This is a spiritual war and boy is it thundering right now.

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Hi,

I too did a Masters at Manchester and still commute there for work quite often - and it’s certainly one of the most non-Christian and ‘progressive’ cities around! So I’m sure that can’t be helping. I also know how you feel about feeling guilty that you are not suffering enough. A few thoughts:

  1. Christians have always gone through phases of being in the minority and majority, and it never indicates a ‘swing of history’ that is permanently against Christians. If you read biographies of William Wilberforce, they tell of how England was just as irreligious 2 centuries ago as it is now in many ways, but that this changed once - and could change again! Wilberforce too felt guilty that he didn’t suffer as much as some others in life - but God used him in ways that in hindsight we recognise were incredible, and we recognise that God calls some people to much more suffering than others. Some of us he gives positions of relative luxury and comfort - but asks that we make the most of those and be willing to suffer, even if he doesn’t actually call us to suffer in the end (like Abraham with Isaac). Of course, that can make us complacent - so we should find ways to reassure ourselves and make sure that we are prepared to suffer if necessary - but the mere fact of us not suffering yet doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing something wrong.
  2. The anti-Christian sentiment in the West is certainly strong and will get stronger, but we are not at breaking point yet. It is terrible that some Christians are persecuted into losing their jobs, and we should take care of those brothers and sisters, but at the same time we should do our best to remind ourselves that our reward is in heaven and that anything we get on Earth is a bonus, including our jobs. And we can certainly survive losing our jobs (though I appreciate that is easy for me to say). I am more concerned at the moment about people having their children taken away as in some countries. This is the height of cruelty and is something we must protest and take action against - and it is part of the reason that as Christians I believe we should be involved in politics and activism, and take seriously the anti-Christian sentiment in our cultures rather than playing it down. Christians in the West are not dying yet, but if we do not wake up we may be in for some absolutely cruel treatment such as the abduction of our children (Norway and Germany have some particularly chilling examples).
  3. I haven’t said much publicly about gender issues, but I have said a lot about abortion - including in Manchester. Much of this has led to many people in my profession (Medicine) hating me, and having lots of angry Twitter comments when I’ve done TV appearances and so on. But I promise you that it’s OK! The condemnation of friends and strangers can be hard if it is a particularly close friend - but the liberation and joy that comes from defending the vulnerable, and from doing that in partnership with brothers and sisters, outweighs it a million times. So I would encourage you as someone on the front lines that - although there’s always a chance I’ll feel differently when they really go for me - knowing you are working for God and for his vulnerable children outweighs anything negative people could say (and have said) about me. And I mean that! So please take heart and know that if our God is for us, then no one can truly stand against (and win). Keep your eyes on Jesus and His promises brother!
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Hey @Honeste_Vivere, I really relate to what you’ve expressed. I think you have been given some fantastic suggestions from the responses you’ve received. Try and digest what people have shared and spend time praying through their points. I have found them to be very encouraging as well.

I just wanted to share one resource you might find interesting. I’m also in the UK, in Devon, and have found that Christian Concern are doing a lot to speak out about these issues you’ve mentioned. In particular, they provide material for us as Christians to reflect on, and provides a support for those stepping out in defence of Biblical values.

They provide support for those going through legal difficulties because of their faith, and keep abreast of our rights as Christians:

They outline Biblical principles that Christians are facing battles over:

They have blogs and resources regarding gender issues:

There’s much more online by Christian Concern. It might be that when you feel overwhelmed by the opposition to Christ, and you need some practical tools to encompass as you push into prayer over these issues, you might find some useful material here.

God bless you and strengthen you in these days.

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