It’s often easy to trace discouragement back to its apparent cause, such as a criticism at work or a relationship issue. But there can be subtle, less obvious factors that are valuable to understand. So let’s look at some spiritual components.
Satan. The enemy is a primary instigator. His purpose is to have us lose heart, think poorly of ourselves, and focus only on the negative.
An area of weakness. When the devil has a stronghold in our life, such as a tenacious habit, he can use it to discourage us. This can be especially disheartening because it feels as if we can’t escape his grip, no matter what we do.
Unanswered prayer. When a prayer is answered “no” or “not now,” we can lose hope. Sadly, some people quit praying altogether.
Prayerlessness. Failing to understand God’s sovereignty and timing can lead to this tragic result. When He answers prayer in an unexpected way, some believers are so taken aback or irritated that they give up on praying altogether. However, cutting off communication with the Lord is a sure way to move into deeper discouragement.
The sense you can’t please God. This is a tragic consequence of a works-based faith, wherein we believe God’s favor is tied to our good works. What a misguided error! Our Father’s love is based on His own grace, not our deeds.
It can be surprising to realize spiritual factors may be adding to our discouragement and further draining our joy and energy. Identifying these causes is crucial, even if the process is painful. Once we clearly see the problems, we can begin to learn how to avoid or correct these trouble areas.