Chapter 20 – Discouragement

Chapter XX
W. John Murray
The Realm of Reality
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1922.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”
–Psalm 42:5

[232] Have you ever asked yourself this question of the Psalmist, when there seemed to be no justifiable reason for your discouragement? Have you ever had moments of unshakable depression when it seemed as if life were not worth living, and yet, when you stopped to consider your affairs, you could see that others were much worse off than yourself and were not making nearly so much fuss about it? No doubt everyone has had the blues, sometimes because of conditions which have thrust themselves suddenly into his experience, and then, again, for no apparent reason. Discouragement is a disease which is no respecter of persons, and for which no antidote has been discovered in the world of medicine. It is a ruthless blight which destroys the flower of hope and the fruit of one’s labors, and leaves nothing behind but a road for itself to travel over again.

[233] Because discouragement is so general we have come to regard it as inevitable and something to be expected, as is an occasional cloudy day. But we know that discouragement is neither necessary nor profitable. We can see no good thing in it, and yet we do not see how it can be avoided. At times we feel that we have very good reason for feeling discouraged. The odds are all against us and everything to which we put our hands crumbles like a tinseled toy. Yesterday our prospects were encouraging, today they are shattered. A telegram, a letter, a telephone call pricks the pretty bubble of our hopes and it vanishes into nothingness before our very eyes. Some men are born pessimists, others become so through experience. In the hour of despair men become blind. In the fog of self-pity they cannot appreciate their blessings.

On the morning after the great Chicago fire a man and a woman sat by the dying embers of their once beautiful home. The woman was the man’s wife and she was preparing some coffee by means of a fire fed by fragments of wood from a home in which they had lived and in which they had hoped to die. In a night their dream had been shattered, and as she cooked he cried. He was inconsolable, and so she cooked and kept quiet. He repeated again and again, “Everything is gone,” and presently she touched his arm and she said, “John, you still have me.” He looked at her through his tears and said, “Yes, thank God, I still have you. I had forgotten that.”

[234] The warmth of an almost forgotten love dried his tears and he joined her in drinking the coffee. What a wonderful thing a good woman is! We have no idea how many of them cook while men lament. In the midst of this man’s calamity he had been reminded of something so important that one marvels how a man could forget it. Peering into the future with its dismal prospects, he quite forgot the love and constancy of his wife who knelt by his side. Like so many of us, he could weep over the morrow’s obligations while utterly losing sight of today’s blessings.

The recognition of his one remaining blessing brought with it a new resolution. He finished his coffee, kissed his wife goodbye and started for the center of the city where a few days before had stood his warehouse. He was aimlessly walking in the direction of his place of business when he met the president of the bank with which he had always done business. They talked as they walked, and when they parted the banker assured him that just as soon as certain loans which he expected from the East came in, he would advance him sufficient to resume his business again. Gloom gave place to a new hope, and as the years went by this hope was realized in a bigger business than he had ever had before.

The effect of discouragement is not limited to man’s mental processes, for it not only makes a man unhappy, but it makes him unhealthy, and in addition to this it renders him unproductive. A [235] discouraged man is a debilitated man, and it is only a question of time when mind, body, and business must show the effects of the poison of discouragement. When a man dies from an affection of the heart, or brain, or from a chronic intestinal difficulty, superinduced by persistent discouragement, we say he died a natural death, but according to some wise men there is but one natural death, and that is falling asleep at the end of a life well spent at a ripe old age. There are those who tell us that discouragement is a sin, for the reason that it implies lack of trust in God.

Discouragement comes from the false belief in a power opposed to God. It is the natural consequence of spiritual ignorance. When a man becomes spiritually enlightened he becomes convinced of the allness of God, and when a man becomes convinced of the allness of God, he loses his belief in the reality and power of evil, and when he loses his belief in the reality and power of evil, discouragement becomes a thing of the past. If, then, we can so trace the cause of discouragement, it ought not to be difficult for us to find a cure for it. In our moments of discouragement and despair we should sit down quietly and ask our souls what David asked of his. We should talk to ourselves in the quiet of our rooms as if we were talking to another whose difficulties we were endeavoring to dissipate. We should question our inner selves, our subconscious mentalities, as did the Psalmist, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted [236] in me?” What is the reason for all this anxiety and nameless dread? Is it that temporary trials and external conditions are too much for thee? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Hast thou come face to face with apparently insurmountable obstacles and discovered the apparent smallness of thyself? Does it seem to thee that evil is more real and more powerful than God, and that there is no refuge save in self-destruction? Then, O my soul, do what the stalwart David did: “Hope thou in God.”

Hope is the medicine, a cheap and universal, infallible cure for discouragement. When dark thought gropes around the soul, if we but whisper this magic word to it, there will be instant response. Have we struggled with disease and reached the point where the doctors declare our malady is incurable? Has black despair seized upon the heart so that our friends seem to us like Job’s comforters, and all their words but empty platitudes? This is the time to ask of the soul, “Why art thou cast down? Is it because thou hast lost thy faith in Him to Whom nothing is incurable? Is it because the best efforts of man have been found unavailing that thou art so disconsolate? Then hope thou in God. Look away from the finite to the Infinite, and the Lord of Glory shall come in and thy sickness shall be healed.”

Is the case of discouragement due to the fact that we have labored for success and found failure? Are demands being made upon us that are [237] just, but with which we cannot comply because of financial lack? Have we exhausted every resource and reached the conclusion that we shall presently be dispossessed, and because of this is the soul disquieted so that the head is dizzy and the heart faint? The sovereign panacea for all discouragement is Hope. Not an aimless hope which has no definite direction nor fixed center in which to place itself, but hope in God Who is able to do for us more than we can ask or even dare to expect.

It may be that our discouragement is not due to any specific anxiety, and that if we were asked the reason for it we could say only, “I do not know; I just woke up this morning feeling as if the whole world were about to collapse.” This form of discouragement is not at all uncommon. It ought not to be difficult to explain this seemingly unnecessary condition if we only realized the operations of the subconscious mind and its sensitiveness to suggestions. Men feel that they are subject only to those influences which reach them through the avenues of the senses. They can understand how they can be affected by things they see, hear, and touch, but it is difficult for them to understand the effect of invisible forces in producing certain emotive conditions. We can understand the possibility of detecting a perfume in the atmosphere, even when we do not know where it comes from, but it is difficult for us to believe that we can be affected by the thoughts of [238] others who are no nearer to us perhaps than suffering Europe. This will become acceptable to us, however, when we realize that, just as odors pleasant and unpleasant become a part of the world’s physical atmosphere, so thoughts goods, bad and indifferent, escaping from the minds of men, tend to become a part of the world’s mental atmosphere.

It is this world’s mental atmosphere or race belief by which we are affected when we are discouraged for no particular personal reason. We are all more or less barometrical so that we feel and register the mental temperatures of the world, without knowing the law back of it all. Our mentality is the barometer which indicates the atmospheric pressure of the world’s emotions. Ignorant of the force of mind, we are like thermometers which can only register the temperature, but cannot change it. This is why so many of us are at the mercy of every mental wind that blows. The difference between a man and a thermometer is the difference between an intelligent personality and an unintelligent piece of mechanism.

Another important point that must not be overlooked is the fact that the thermometer in no wise contributes to the atmospheric condition of the world, while man does. The thermometer generates neither heat nor cold; it simply indicates them, but man is constantly contributing to the mental atmosphere of the world. Every thought he thinks is taken up on the etheric waves of subconscious [239] mental activity and unites itself, as by chemical affinity, with every other thought of a similar character.

For this reason, then, we must be ever on our guard lest we contribute to the ocean of thought which we do not wish to return to us after many days. Our every thought is a casting of bread upon the waters, and it is for us to decide whether it shall be food for future success or future failure.

Chapter 21

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