Gray Days: Thoughts on Discouragement

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

When our children were little, we spent many hours reading together.  One of their most favorite stories was Dr. Seuss’ My Many Colored Days.  It’s was a delightful book that described emotions through the use of colors, animals, and insects.


The book was so much fun to read aloud and act out, but I must confess that the page with the owl was the one I paused on most often.  Its message hitting me deeper than all the others.  The eyes of the owl were large, round, and searching, and the words printed beneath them were:


Gray Day…Everything is gray.

I watch.

But nothing moves today.


Nothing moves.  Isn’t that the essence of discouragement?  That profound feeling you get when life is stagnant, relationships are lukewarm, work is routine, or your body is spent.


Discouragement is courage gone away, and what takes its place is a mindset of despair and disappointment that threatens to pull us away from the possibility of any joy, hope, and purpose we can have.


It’s an inescapable feeling, but it isn’t an inescapable place.


A disposition of courage is just as readily available to us as is a disposition of hopelessness.  However, I believe discouragement weighs more and costs more in terms of how it wears down our soul, effects our relationships, and especially in the way we view our Lord.


So what do we do when it’s gray for a day, or for a season, or for what seems like a lifetime?  Here are my humble thoughts on the matter:



Expect valleys.  One of the quickest roads to discouragement is for us to get tangled up in the notion that our life; our Christian life, doesn’t come with troubles.  Sometimes we treat God like he’s our personal bubble wrap, completely protecting us from the thrashings of this world.  Yet, when we discover a bruising or a brokenness despite our “packaging”, we falter in surprise.  God said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) Not, “You might” or “There’s a good possibility.”  You will.  The question is, what happens in the face of it?


Watch the brainwork.  Half truths from Satan will sound like whole truths from God if we‘re not careful where we choose to let our mind dwell.  What was God’s character like when things were going well?  Did you trust him? Was he caring?  Did he possess strength?  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  Our situations change, but God remains.  Trusting in his steadfastness is essential to getting the gray away.


Get going, but don’t travel alone.  Rarely do we seek change when things are going well.  We don’t typically say, “I have the most perfect, fulfilling job, I think I’ll quit.” or “My marriage is completely amazing, I think I’ll get a divorce.”  Change often comes out of necessity.  There is a lost sense of control, and to counteract the uncertainty, we grasp for anything that can slow down the crazy ride we’re on.  We take action and start to plan, but if God isn’t the plan, our crazy ride can go on a lot longer than necessary.  “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)


Don’t neglect the bonus feature.  The Apostle Paul mentioned in his letters that he had to endure much during his ministry, yet he also spoke of those trials as the “glory of suffering”.  “But we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)  If our eyes stay fixed on our limitations, or on the way things used to be, we can miss out on the growth and character building God has in store for us.  Why do bad things happen?  I can’t truly say, but I believe it involves a growth and a transformation of our character so that we will be of greater use to God.


Obey Papa.  Life is about choices, and discouragement is no different.  We can make choices that will ground us in hopelessness, keep us captive by it, or swallow us up in it.  We can also make choices that free us from it, so that we can heal and grow beyond what we thought possible.  How do you do it?  Well, we just simply do what Papa tells us – over and over:  “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)  We may not feel like it at first, but just as we delight in God’s faithfulness, he delights in our faithfulness to him.



Hope in Motion

  1. Read Psalm 71:20.  David speaks of the many bitter troubles he went through, yet he has a hope.  What is his hope, and does it encourage you too? Share your thoughts!
  2. How do you deal with “Gray days”? Share in the comments below!
  3. Is God your plan when change comes?  What steps do you take to make sure he is?  Comment below.

10 Replies

  1. lori perez

    Well Raye as I sit here reading your blog I can hear my husband talking to his sister and his mom. Every word that is coming out of their mouths are not very good. Satan is truely working hard these days isn’t he? The frustating things that go on each day can really wear you down. It is a comfort to know though that the Lord is in control and He has the last word. It sounds like you need lots of prayer and I will make sure that I pray hard for you tonight. Isn’t it wonderful though to know that we can pray to our Lord? Sometimes though Iwish the tribulations weren’t so much. God Bless you Raye.

    1. Thank you so much Lori. This post was written for my borther-in-law Bill who recently suffered a stroke. As his healing continues, I wanted to arm him with some better thinking for when those gray days come. Please pray for him over me.

  2. Jackie Wortel

    Thank you Raye! I’ll be sharing this with Bill, I know it will encourage him! <3

    1. Thank you! Great to “see” you!

  3. Lori West

    This was incredibly timely for me today. I had some discouragement in my family this holiday weekend and I am not physically there to help minister to the hurt family members. I know God has a plan why I am so far away and what He is doing in my life. This was a great reminder for me to come back to Him and look deeper at what He is doing in the ups and downs of life.

    1. I feel your frustration as we’re experiencing the same situation. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Diane

    Funny, this was my 12:00 am read. . .God brought me back to the many days He called me to “be strong, have courage” to remind me of how far I have come when it comes to Gray Days. I do have them, but that Jordan River calls at me to cross. As I set my sights on Jesus, He gently takes my hand and we cross that river together.
    Walking by faith in the difficult times, makes it doable. Thank you for your reminder of what suffering, and loss eqaul. Enduring promises me a great finish! Thank you Jesus!

    1. Karen Uribe

      Wow I so needed to read this! We are dealing with many extended family issues that will or may change or impact our lives directly. I got really moody yesterday over it all, not that I don’t trust God’s plan, but a bit of the “why us?’ Instead of why not us??? Thank you again for your marvelous insights! I am singing praises today regardless of the situation!

      1. We are dealing with some extended family issues too, so as I needed to the encouragement, I thought I’d share!

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