Christians can get discouraged. Here we read the psalmist in discouragement directing himself to look away from himself to praise God, and the hope of salvation God gives to him: “Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” So let’s look at how to use your faith in Christ when discouraged.

First, do not link your comforts to your circumstances. If you hang something on a brittle nail, the nail will fall along with what you placed on it. Circumstances are alterable, they can change. God is a pillar who does not change. In Isaiah 26:4 we are commanded to trust in the Lord, “for in the Lord is everlasting strength.” Comforts in circumstances can be taken away with the wind or storm, but comforts in the Lord cannot.

Also, remember to make links between your circumstances and Christ. When you look at your condition, match it with an attribute of Christ. Have you lost something or someone? Christ promises to never leave or forsake you. Are you afflicted with opposition within or without? Christ is the King of Kings. Are you guilty of sin? He is your High Priest and Advocate. Whatever your condition, look at an attribute of Christ.

Seek not to be anxious over your condition. Often the way to an outward blessing is to be content to go without it. In the same way, often discouragement over a condition is removed or mitigated by being content that it should be continued if God will have it so. The devil can discourage us by saying such or such a condition will never end. We must answer him; “If God would have it so, I am contented.”

William Bridge, a 17th century Christian leader, directs Christians to consider the sweetness or comforts God gives to accompany difficult circumstances: “There is nothing terrible but God has joined some comfort to it. The name of God is terrible, for he is called the great and dreadful God. But to sweeten this he is also called the God of all consolations. Death is terrible. It is called the king of terrors. But to sweeten this, it is called a sleep.

The Day of Judgment is terrible. But to sweeten that, our present Advocate shall be our future Judge; yes, our best friend and our dear Husband. Now if you separate the terror of any object from its sweetness, no wonder you are much discouraged. It is our duty to behold things as God presents them and to take things as God gives them. What God has joined together, let us not separate.”

Trials are painful, and they can seem like evils. The apostle writes: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Obviously, the Lord knows the pain we are going through, yet he has higher purposes. He knows what is in the darkness (Daniel 2).

If a man has a serious illness, the medicine he must take can make him sick. But, because they are the side-effects of medicine, you do not call it the illness itself. All the afflictions of the saints are but their medicine in a dark world, prescribed and given to them by their Father. So even when they suffer greatly, God is working out their salvation for their good.

Remember, for the Christian God promises to especially be with his people in the hour of affliction. It was under stoning that heaven opened to Stephen (Acts 7). When was Christ with the three faithful youths, but in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3)? 

There are standing promises in Scripture of this: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you (Isaiah 43).” Peter says: “If you suffer for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

Christians go through time of discouragements that may seem will have no end. A godly person in Christ, though, has no real reason to be discouraged, whatever his afflictions are. Pain and sorrow are unavoidable, yet they will have an end. For the Christian, the present time is the only time of suffering.  If we focus on honoring God, we are contending with discouragement.