The Danger of Discouragement

Some days, I have to admit, it feels like I’ve been working and working, doing everything I’m supposed to, and yet, nothing ever changes—unless it’s for the worse. The struggles are still dragging me down. The sense that no matter what I do, nothing will change, weighs on my spirit. It’s days like that when the questions start…

What’s wrong with me that I can’t get anywhere?

How can I be losing ground with everything I’m doing?

What made me think anyone would want to read what I have to say?

Why can’t I do better?

Why do I even try?

And on and on the litany of discouragement goes, chipping away, leaving me off-balance and frustrated.

Have you been there? Are you there even now? If so, know this: you’re not alone. Discouragement is a far-too-frequent companion for writers. One that, no matter how we try to avoid it, sneaks in and weasels its way into our hearts and minds. It’s then, when discouragement crawls through us, undermining our confidence and whispering defeat and surrender, that we fall into the danger of giving up. Of deciding we heard wrong, that God didn’t really ask us to write for him, or that He—dare we even think it?—made a mistake.

But while we may not be able to completely avoid the whispers of discouragement, we can silence them. Not with any weapon of our own, but with the most powerful weapons in our inner arsenal: prayer and Scripture.

The next time discouragement sidles up to you, whispering its poison, stop. I mean it, stop cold. Right then and there, pray. Rip your focus from yourself, from your struggle or failures or whatever is eating at you, and fix it on the One who gave you the task to write. Seek His face. And then draw on His Words. Let them sink deep into your heart. Embrace the truth in them, because those words are your secret weapon. They are so much more than just words on a page, friends. They are “alive and powerful… sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. [They] expose our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

Grace and help to face down and defeat:

Writers Obstacle #4: Discouragement

Deuteronomy 31:8–The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Micah 7:8–Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.

Isaiah 41:17-18–“The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.

Luke 12:24–Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

Romans 15:4 – Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

1 Corinthians 15:58–So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10–“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Colossians 2:2—I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself.

1 John 5:18-21—God’s Son holds [you] securely, and the evil one cannot touch [you]. We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.


45 Responses to The Danger of Discouragement

  1. Kristen Joy Wilks April 12, 2017 at 5:45 am #

    Thank you so much for this. I’m writing a rough draft right now and it is so hard to have it be terrible. But no, I’m just going to write it. If I go back and fix everything, I’ll never get it done!

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:23 am #

      Absolutely, just write!

  2. Cecil` Murphey April 12, 2017 at 5:57 am #

    I know that feeling!

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:24 am #

      Cec, so good to see you here! Hugs to you, my friend.

  3. Loretta Eidson April 12, 2017 at 6:29 am #

    Powerful scriptures and uplifting post, Karen. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another.

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks, Loretta. I agree, we’ve all been there–and isn’t God’s loving to allow us to use His Word to encourage each other when we’re there.

  4. Kirsten Panachyda April 12, 2017 at 6:30 am #

    So timely for me.
    Thank you for this. This morning I am stopping to seek His face, and then I will press on.

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:28 am #

      Such wisdom in what you’re doing, Kirsten.

  5. Alice Stone Thomas April 12, 2017 at 6:31 am #

    Thank you for this lovely and uplifting message, Karen. You timed it perfectly for me!

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:33 am #

      Wish I could claim the timing, but you know it’s God. 🙂 So thankful it helped.

  6. Brenda S. Anderson April 12, 2017 at 6:41 am #

    Thank you, Karen, for this powerful and encouraging post. It’s exactly what I needed this season.

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:34 am #

      You’re are so welcome.

  7. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser April 12, 2017 at 6:56 am #

    Great post, Karen, and wonderful choices of Scripture.

    I face discouragement every day. My body is used up now, and even interacting on social media is becoming hard. Writing blog posts is an ordeal, and I fear that my completed manuscripts will not now see the light of day. I simply don’t have it in me any more.

    So I find I am kind of stuck, with an uphill climb every day, but…

    There are some things one can do to combat discouragement in a proactive way:

    1) When things start to cascade badly, practice goal-shedding, sacrificing less important goals for those that matter more. I want to write and publish novels; but I can’t now. I can still write a blog that’s reaching people with a message that seems to resonate (next week you get to learn about how to deal with prostate issues at home, yay!). So I am concentrating on the blog, and on visiting other blogs and offering encouragement to their writers. That is, after all, why I write – it’s an act of service.

    2) When you want to quit, do one thing more. Don’t slam the laptop; open it and write a new paragraph, as an act of discipline. Discouragement is slavery, and discipline is the price you pay for freedom.

    3) If you sometimes use bad language, stop, and if you speak colloquially, tighten your words. Being slangy and potty-mouthed is an undisciplined (that word again!) dodge. Be precise. Care about what you say, and how you say it. Discouragement leads to lack of caring and, ultimately, courtesy. Don’t start down that road.

    4) Listen to uplifting music; perhaps “sad songs say so much”, but they have no place on your playlist now. Load up some CCR; rock on.

    5) Exercise; push the poisons of despondency and fear from your system.

    6) Eat well, and avoid comfort food. Comfort food generally produce the same endorphins that sad songs do. More protein, fewer carbs, and cut out as much fat as you can.

    I’ve gone as far as I can for the moment, but writing this, in the hope that it may be of use, has done my spirits some good.

    Take THAT, discouragement!

    • Glenda April 12, 2017 at 7:38 am #

      Andrew, your writing has bolstered my spirit! Thank you.

      If you care to visit my blog, I welcome more encouragement:

      Care to share the top three CCR songs on your playlist?

      1) Elevated by Citizen Way
      2) Float by Switchfoot
      3) Shouting Grounds by David Crowder

      Write On! 🙂

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser April 12, 2017 at 7:49 am #

        Glenda, thank you so very, very much. You’ve given me a lift on what is spiraling into a very challenging morning.

        Love your playlist –

        My top three CCR songs are:

        Almost Saturday Night
        Traveling Band
        Bad Moon Rising (can’t leave that one out!)

        And as a bonus, I love John Fogerty’s singles “Centerfield” and “Rock And Roll Girls.”

        And one more favourite…Dire Straits’ “Walk Of Life”, with the sports video. Watching that always puts a smile on my face. The opening chords are like a sunrise!

        • Glenda April 12, 2017 at 8:12 am #

          Andrew-I never imagined this blog would be a place to find
          mutual encouragement from other writers. Refreshing. 🙂

          Praying for strength and endurance and everything you need to plant your victory flag on the top of the hill of this day.

          I confess, realizing that CCR for you and CCR for me are acronyms for totally different music brought a good laugh. 🙂

          CCR for you: Clarence Clearwater Revival, right?
          CCR for me: Contemporary Christian Rock (Though Swictchfoot is classified in the ALTERNATIVE Rock genre).

          Definitely claiming the front row seat ticket you left here to Walk of Life! Classic. Like how you said, “The opening chords are like a sunrise!” 🙂 True that.


          • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser April 12, 2017 at 9:26 am #


            • Glenda April 13, 2017 at 9:32 am #

              Hi, Andrew-I checked out your blog but couldn’t figure out how to leave a message.

              The lessons from your sweet pets reminded me of what my youngest once told me: “Sometimes, you just have to let me be NOT OKAY, Mom.” Followed by a hug.

              Also, face aflame here!

              CCR=Creedence Clearwater Revival. If only I’d fact checked first…

              Fac fortia et patere!

              PS Walk of Life is definitely better with sports bloopers! 🙂

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:35 am #

      LOL! Thanks, Andrew.

    • Joanna April 13, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

      Andrew, your responses on other blog posts are always thought-provoking, and I love hearing from you in the comments. I’ll also never forget how you encouraged me with a post on my own blog a while ago. It was a hard one to write and you made it worth while. Your words are your gift to spread around, and you do it lavishly, with all the strength you have. That’s remarkable!

  8. Glenda April 12, 2017 at 7:43 am #

    Karen-What a godsend to find this post in my e-box this morning!

    Like a signpost at the edge of a cliff warning us to take a better route.

    Especially heeding 1 John 5:18-21.

    Thank you for the e-encouragement.

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:38 am #

      I love that imagery. Thank you!

  9. G.J. April 12, 2017 at 8:04 am #

    Thank you! Your post encouraged me and reminded me of the quote by Leonard Ravenhill in Why Revival Tarries, ”Prayer is not for defence. The shield of faith is for that. Prayer is our secret weapon.”

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:39 am #

      Amen and amen. Thank you, G.J.

  10. Renee Blare April 12, 2017 at 8:14 am #

    Thank you.

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:39 am #

      You are so welcome.

  11. Carol April 12, 2017 at 9:09 am #

    Thank you. Sometimes I’m buoyed by God’s leading. Then I look at me and think I’m doomed to failure. Just need to keep my eyes on Him. ?

    • Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:41 am #

      Carol, that’s exactly what we all need to do.

  12. Cindy Fowell April 12, 2017 at 9:43 am #

    Thank you, Karen. Your words and the scriptures are timely and uplifting. I too find encouragement and spiritual refreshment in reading your posts and the others on this site. Often the the teachings pull my thoughts and emotions back into line.
    Also enjoy the opportunity to pray for other writers.

  13. Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    Rebekah, thank you so much.

  14. Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 11:42 am #

    Cindy, I love that you pray for other writers. What a hedge we can place around each other when we take the time to do that. Thank you.

  15. Heidi Gaul April 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

    Karen, thank you for this beautiful, encouraging blog. Like all writers, I go through the highs and lows expected in this field. Your words caught me during a low tide, and were exactly the cure for my blues. I’ll be printing this piece, keeping it near for times when I forget the value of my gift and mission.

  16. Linda April 12, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

    Ah, discouragement, you are not my friend, but an oh so familiar torment. Thank you for sharing these verses Karen – most of them very familiar. Discouragement disguises himself sometimes by making me believe my life is better served by doing everything for everyone else and neglecting my writing. He would have me believe I’m wasting my life on such a pursuit. I thank God for making make me persistent.

  17. Karen Ball April 12, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

    I love it when God uses things like this. Thank you!

  18. Sheri Dean Parmelee April 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    Thanks for the great reminder of God’s love and provision, Karen. I like Psalm 71 and look it over daily, He is our hope and our praise should be continually of Him.

  19. Stacy T Simmons April 12, 2017 at 1:44 pm #

    Thank you for your post Karen. It’s a great reminder that the Lord loves us and does not want us to be shackled by discouragement instead to be encouraged by His love for us.

  20. Joey Rudder April 12, 2017 at 2:21 pm #


    I love how you wrote, “The next time discouragement sidles up to you, whispering its poison, stop. I mean it, stop cold. Right then and there, pray. Rip your focus from yourself, from your struggle or failures or whatever is eating at you, and fix it on the One who gave you the task to write. Seek His face. And then draw on His Words.”

    I had a deeply discouraging day last week and did just that and God gave me, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14 NIV.) I had no idea what was going on, just this sense of something being “off” and yet painful. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to do anything but cry.

    But I found myself at my computer wondering if I would write about it if it would help. It sure did! Through God and His Word, He brought revelation and victory. I spent the rest of the day praising Him and crying; a different sort of tears. 🙂

    And now I can look back at that post and remember Who it is that’s fighting for me when the enemy tries to load discouragement (and guilt) on my back. Funny, what the enemy used to try and tear me down, God used to draw me even closer to Him. He’s pretty amazing like that.

    Thanks again, Karen. (And I’m really looking forward to your next post in this series.)

  21. Damon J. Gray April 12, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    Hey Karen … this hits a nerve with so many of us. It reminds me of what Tim Ferris calls “Retreating Into Story,” where we let our minds try to tell us who we are. “I cannot believe I always … ” or “I’m just so … ” and “I can never … ” I’ve also heard this described as “The Obnoxious Roommate,” what most of us would just call the voice in our head.

    We cannot allow ourselves to go there, and I appreciate you saying outright that we can indeed silence these whispers.

    We are children of the King! Try those clothes on for size!

  22. Edward Lane April 12, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

    Remarkable!! So happy to hear I am not only one to visit valley of discouragement. Love your powerful use of Bible verses.

  23. Marlene Anderson April 13, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    Excellent words – we need to hear them over and over again. Discouragement is a part of life, but God equips us to combat it and all the other critical messages we hear. Our internal critic will continue until we put a stop to it and replace it with the affirmations that God gives us. Blessings to you.

  24. Susan Marlene April 13, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

    What an encouraging message Karen Ball! God does go before us! He desires our success as we march though life with Him! Thanks for this!

  25. Brennan McPherson April 14, 2017 at 2:49 am #

    Such a great post, Karen! So true! So powerful! So simple! So easy to forget.

  26. Shannon Redmon April 17, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post! It encouraged me not to question the call God placed in my heart to write. 🙂 ~Shannon

  27. Beth Durham April 19, 2017 at 7:46 am #

    Thank you Karen.
    I’m a few days late reading (as usual!) but maybe this is the day God had this planned for me because it certainly hit home.

  28. Kimberly May 16, 2017 at 8:16 pm #

    I had shared this in my FB readers group and forgot about it–don’t even remember posting there as I generally don’t put links to blog posts there. I ran across it this evening–exactly when I needed it.
    Thank you.

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