If anybody had a right to be discouraged, it was St. Paul. During the course of his ministry, he was beaten, shipwrecked, betrayed, slandered, and imprisoned. Today’s second reading gives us some insight into the way Paul handled all of this. Paul was a tough guy by nature, but we can’t think that he was impervious to the stress and strain of the life he had chosen. The key is that he didn’t let discouragement overtake him and rule his life.
Discouragement can make us feel hopeless. It can drain us of all energy and prevent us from keeping up with our everyday tasks. If not dealt with, it is also contagious. It can spread through your whole house. So let’s look at one way we can deal with discouragement. At the Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me” (John 14:1). Here he was about to face the cross, and yet he spent his last hours on earth helping his friends—by urging them to trust in God. As comforting as these words sound, they also contain a vital strategy: Hold on to your faith! Trust that my Father and I won’t abandon you.
Whenever we face times of discouragement, we can picture Jesus saying to us, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. It’s true that in the world you will have trouble, but never doubt that I have conquered the world” (see John 16:33). St. Paul, echoing Jesus, assures us that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Roman 8:38-39). It’s the knowledge of this truth that kept him from giving in to discouragement. This same motto can help us too.
So the next time you start feeling discouraged, think like Paul. Keep telling yourself that God knows the situation. He feels your pain. He is with you. Never forget that nothing can separate you from his love.