Compartmentalize discouragement?

By Dave Henning / September 20, 2023

“For a while, you could compartmentalize [your troubles], but now it’s just leaking over everything.  When enough time goes by and things aren’t going our way, we often deal with that prolonged discouragement with denial.”- Kyle Idleman

“This went on year after year.  Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.”- 1 Samuel 1:7 (NIV)

As Kyle Idleman moves on in Chapter 3 of When Your Way Isn’t Working, he notes what happens when one deals with discouragement by trying to fix things.  Even though our efforts mean we disobey God’s way, they only result in greater discouragement.  Certainly, Elkanah’s DIY approach served as a temporary fix.  But in the long run, it turned up the discouragement dial.

Consequently, Elkanah’s disobedience made things worse.  Not only for him, though.  It also made things incredibly discouraging for Hannah.  Most significantly, Kyle states, in 1 Samuel 1:7 we read that Hannah’s discouragement went on year after year.  Most likely we can handle it for a few months – perhaps even a few years.  However, we start to lose confidence when it goes on year after year.  So, Kyle’s equation looks something like this:

Disappointment + Time = Discouragement

In addition, Pastor Idleman says, we often use denial to deal with prolonged discouragement.  For example, one invention called the Skinny Mirror uses curved glass to create an optical illusion.  The user looks about ten pounds thinner.

Originally designed for individuals, retailers now use the Skinny Mirror to help sell clothing.  So, when you try on clothes and check yourself out using the Skinny Mirror, you’re much more likely to make a purchase.  Above all, manufacturers make no attempt to hide the purpose of the mirror.  Because they put the Skinny Mirror logo in the bottom right-hand corner.

Therefore, Kyle explains:

“When our way isn’t working, we often try to surround ourselves with voices that tell us what we want to hear — voices that help us deal with our discouragement by reinforcing our denial.”

Today’s question: When do you feel prone to compartmentalize your troubles?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The Peninnah effect – comparing”

About the author

Dave Henning

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