Definition of “Discourage”: To deprive of confidence, hope or spirit.
Definition of “Encourage”: To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence, hearten.
I find myself quite discouraged this weekend. The details and circumstances are not important. And neither, really, is the condition of my soul in it’s discouragement. What is interesting, fascinating even, is the physical and mental effect of such weighty discouragement. And “weighty” is the correct, the applicable word. The heaviness is real. I am finding myself hopeless, but not without ultimate hope. I am finding myself fearful, but not without a measure of courage. I am greatly lacking in confidence, greatly afflicted with awkwardness and a sense of lostness, a disheartening.
I often use the phrase “My Heart” in my writings. But this is one of the first times I’ve considered examining what compels me to use those words. When I say “My Heart”, what I mean is my soul, the very being of who I am. More and more I am approaching a belief that my soul is not just the very seat of who I am, but is also much more connected to my mind, to my thoughts–both rational and irrational–than I previously believed to be true. I would like to think, and in fact would much prefer, for my soul and my mind to be completely separate entities. But more and more I see evidence to the contrary.
What does that have to do with discouragement and encouragement? I’m not really sure actually. Except that I have just done some reading of passages that contain the word “encouragement”–an exegesis of those passages revealing the intent, the purpose, the importance of encouragement in the first century church. And I long tonight for some sort of encouragement from God to my soul. I so despise the use of the word “depression”. Greatly so. A crutch, a diagnosis, an excuse, and yet a foray into the Dictionary definition of the word would accurately describe the state of my soul this weekend. The state of my soul, tonight. And yet I know, my responsibility is to fight for joy. Not happiness, but joy. I am trying to do so. I have great joy in my children tonight. I have joy in that I have a house to live in. I have joy in knowing that I have friends that are praying, real prayer, for me. I have joy in knowing that this day will end, that this night literally will not last forever, in spite of a fight to not sleep. “His mercies are new every morning” (Lam 3:22-23). I need that to be personally true, to be the real encouragement.