On Discouragement and Trusting in God: Readings from a Puritan

On Discouragement and Trusting in God: Readings from a Puritan October 26, 2018



Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. ~ Psalm 42.11


Peace is Christ’s language and this is his disposition still. Thus he is engaged.

You know it is God’s way and manner to deal with the children of men according to their various dispositions, to stoop and condescend unto their infirmities. … So long as man has encouragement elsewhere, he does not encourage himself in the Lord his God. This being man’s nature, and God having a design of love upon his own children, he permits a damp and discouragement to pass upon all their comforts: their peace to be interrupted, their hearts disquieted, and their souls discouraged, that so they may encourage themselves in God alone.

Our Lord and Savior Christ is a tender surgeon, who has set all our bones which we ourselves have broken by our sins.

When a man’s mind is empty, as in temptation and want of comfort, it is empty of Christ, and full of fear.

The valley of your discouragements shall be the door and inlet unto all your rest and comfort. … This is God’s way; discouragements bring encouragements; and the more discouragement the saints have, the more encouragements they shall have. … A praying man can never be very miserable, whatever his condition be, for he has the ear of God; the Spirit within to indite [give voice to], a Friend in heaven to present, and God himself to receive his desires as a Father.

I know indeed, say you, that I have no just and scripture reason for my discouragement. I see there is much reason against it, yet I am one of a troubled spirit. I would fain have it otherwise, that at last I might glorify free grace. What should I do that I may bear up against all discouragements, that I may not be discouraged, whatever my condition be? The only way which the psalmist teaches here is, to hope, trust, believe in God. And how we should use our faith in Christ so that we may not be discouraged … take these directions:

1) Never make your comfort depend upon your condition, but upon the Lord.

2) Look to Christ, your Advocate, High Priest; your Way, your Bread, your Water of Life.

3) The only way to have a spiritual or outward affliction removed, is to be contented that it should be continued, if God and Christ will have it so.

4) Whenever you think of any thing which is in itself terrible, or matter of discouragement, be sure that you mingle the consideration thereof with those sweet things which God has given and prescribed to you. … It is our duty to behold things as God presents them, and to take things as God gives them.

5) If you would not be discouraged whatever your condition be, labour more and more to get your self-love mortified, even religious self-love. All your discouragements are from self-love, not from the venom of your condition, but from the poison of self-love. … Could you leave yourself, and your condition with God and Christ, and mind his service, glory, and honor more, God would take care of your comfort.

6) There is none of all these doubtings, unbelieving fears and discouragements, but you will be ashamed and repent of afterwards … You now lie down upon the earth, and your belly cleaves to the dust by reason of your discouragements; but the grace of God and the love of Christ is creeping up behind the dark cloud, and it will break out at the last upon you, and shine in to your face with the golden beams of mercy.

Sometimes the discouragement of the saints and people of God are drawn from their sins, their greater and grosser sins: the peace and quiet of the saints and people of God is many times interrupted by their sins. … Discouragement is itself a sin, another sin, a gospel sin. … The Lord, by the overruling hand of his grace, makes our very miscarriages, inlets and occasions to further grace and holiness. He never permits any of his people to fall into any sin, but he hath a design by that fall to break the back of that sin they do fall into.

A man is not to be discouraged under his sin, though it be never so great; because discouragement itself is a sin, and that cannot help against sin. … If you would be truly humbled and not be discouraged, not discouraged and yet humbled, then trace all your sins to your unbelief, and lay the stress and weight of all your sorrow upon that sin.

Is not God, the great God of heaven and earth, able to do great things?


–from A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge


Image source: Pixabay


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