It is just common sense to realize that we cannot do our best when we are deeply discouraged. We all get discouraged from time to time, but when we get deeply discouraged, that is a very different matter and can lead to all kinds of negative consequences. We had a sad situation sometime back here in one of our public schools when two students committed suicide in a span of only three weeks. While I don’t know the details, needless to say these students were so deeply discouraged that they did not see any way out, short of ending it all.
Now this is so tragic, especially for the families, teachers and fellow students who are deeply affected and will be impacted for the rest of their lives. While it is too late for these students and countless others like them, it is not too late for the rest of us. If you happen to be a person who is discouraged, or have a tendency to become deeply discouraged, I want to share a story I heard recently that could reveal the source of your discouragement.
“Once upon a time, Satan, growing old and weary, decided it was time for him to retire from active work. He offered each of his devilish inventory of tools for sale to the highest bidders. At the time of the auction, the tools were all neatly arranged: envy, malice, enmity, sensuality, deceit and all the other devices of evil. Each was plainly marked, and the price was surprisingly low, except for the ungainly piece of much used steel marked “discouragement.” It was marked 10 times more than any of the other tools.
A prospective buyer asked, “Why, Mr. Satan, do you ask so much for this tool?” “Well”, replied the old tempter, “this tool has always been my most useful one. You can see that it has more wear than any of the others. I can use it as a wedge to get into a person’s mind and defeat him, when all other means fail.” If this story has any truth to it, and I believe that it does, we can plainly see that Satan is the source of discouragement. He wants us to give up, sit down and wallow around in self-pity.
If and when we allow this to happen, we certainly won’t accomplish anything worthwhile for God, our fellow man, or anyone else, including ourselves. The only way to overcome discouragement is by intelligent action. Once we decide to do something worthwhile and get started, we will soon find that discouragement will leave us. The exact opposite of discouragement is courage, and this is simply the quality of mind that meets danger or opposition with firmness.
Isolated performances of great deeds do not make individuals, heroes or cowards; they simply reveal character to the eyes of others. Every successful life needs challenges, hurdles to overcome, and problems to solve in order to bring the power of courage into play. God has given us a will, and in America we have the freedom and opportunity to make choices. In every important decision in life, God votes for us, Satan votes against us, it’s left to each of us to break the tie.
What I have shared applies even more so when we become mature adults, but we must keep in mind that most young people are not mature adults and they are still fragile and searching for their identity. We should always be sensitive to others, and when we detect a deep-seated discouragement, make them feel truly loved. This is the best cure of all.