Friday, October 11, 2019

The Cure for Discouraged Writers

By Joshua J. Masters @JoshuaJMasters

Christian writers are not immune to rejection and struggle. I’d like to say I responded to a recent rejection by saying, “What a delightful part of God’s plan for this project,” but that’s not exactly how I felt. When we feel discouraged in our writing, how do we overcome the negative story we tell ourselves and recapture the heart of what God’s called us to do?

Perhaps the most famous poem every written was penned by one of the greatest poets and songwriters of all time. Maybe you’ve read it.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters…
(Psalm 23:1-2 NKJV)

The promise of serenity expressed in Psalm 23 is hard to grasp (or even read) when you’re walking in a dark place, isn’t it? I sometimes feel like we read this passage at funerals because it seems impossible to attain that kind of comfort while we’re still living on this side of eternity. But we’re meant to claim its promise of hope now, even as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” But how?

David likely wrote Psalm 23 toward the end of his life, after he’d learned how to live in the promise of God’s peace through any circumstance or trial.

That’s sounds great but when I get rejected by an agent, can’t hit my word count, don’t feel motivated to write, or get a rough critique, I don’t feel anything like David.

David didn’t always feel that way either. He went through dark seasons of discouragement and pain. Consider the passage from Psalm 22 below. Notice the heart-wrenching emotional pain David is feeling as he writes:  

I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled,
    every joint in my body has been pulled apart.
My heart is a blob
    of melted wax in my gut.
I’m dry as a bone,
    my tongue black and swollen.
They have laid me out for burial
    in the dirt.
Now packs of wild dogs come at me;
    thugs gang up on me.
They pin me down hand and foot,
    and lock me in a cage—a bag
Of bones in a cage, stared at
    by every passerby.
They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
    and then throw dice for my clothes.
You, GOD—don’t put off my rescue!
    Hurry and help me!
Don’t let them cut my throat;
    don’t let those mongrels devour me.
If you don’t show up soon,
    I’m done for—gored by the bulls,
    meat for the lions.
(Psalm 22:14-21 MSG)

David was as discouraged and defeated as a person could be, but later on—after some healing in his life, he writes one of the most famous passages in the Bible about peace and trust in the Lord.

Maybe you’re feeling discouraged right now. Maybe you’re thinking, The twenty-third psalm is fine for David, but I just don’t feel that kind of peace in my life

Well remember, in Psalm 22, David felt like he was being attacked by wild dogs and that he was at the edge of death. 

He had to learn how to live in God’s peace. 
How did he do that? 
What was the cure for his discouragement?
What’s the transition that changed David’s perspective from fear to peace?

What changed in David’s writing?

The answer is actually in the next line of Psalm 22. 

Where did we leave off? Oh, yes…

If you don’t show up soon,
    I’m done for—gored by the bulls,
    meat for the lions. (MSG)

But even though there’s no sign anything in his circumstances changed, David’s heart changes in the next verse when he writes,

You have answered me.
I will declare your name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
(Psalm 22:21b-22 NASB)

In his darkest moment, David turned to God and worshipped him. 
At the end of his soliloquy of self-loathing, he moves his focus away from his own problems, and worships God—the God who had ALREADY answered him. Worship changed his heart and encouraged him because through his praise, he was reminded of God’s promises.

God has made promises to you too. Being called to write for God doesn’t absolve you from suffering, but it does provide a solution for wallowing in it. 

Praising God isn’t just a response to the good things He’s done for us, but the cure for moments of uncertainty. It reminds us that God is still working, that He’s still good, and that His plan is trustworthy. But above all, it reminds us He’s worthy of praise.

Maybe you didn’t get a book contract, maybe your blog doesn’t get enough traffic. Maybe there’s something in your personal life that makes you feel like meat for the lions. Whatever it is, in your darkest moment, find a way to worship God. 

Then watch Him turn your twenty-second Psalm into your twenty-third.

The Cure for Discouraged Writers - @JoshuaJMasters on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Joshua J. Masters is a pastor, author, and speaker. He’s been featured on CBN Television, HIS Radio, and the Light Radio Network. Josh is the author of American Psalms: Prayers for the Christian Patriot and is a contributing author for Feed Your Soul,  Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and One Christian Voice. Josh has also worked as an actor and crew member in the film industry (SAG/AFTRA) and continues to have a passion for film. He lives with his wife, Gina, and Franklin the Pup outside Greenville, South Carolina where he serves as a speaking and care pastor.

Josh would love to connect with you on his website, or engage with you on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Goodreads.


  1. Joshua, your post is one to memorize. Thank you for the reminders that we are never alone.

    1. DiAnn, Thank you for your encouragement. It means a lot to me.

  2. Love this, Joshua. Thanks for this reminder! God bless.

  3. Wonderful post Pastor Joshua. When we sometimes feel furthest from God's favor is when we need to reach out to Him the most. Something we must all remember is that it wasn't Him that moved away. Thank you for your inspiration sir. God's blessings.

    1. Well said, J.D. I couldn't agree with you more. When we feel like God is distant, it's always because we've wandered. But praise God, we need only turn to see He's still standing beside us, waiting for us to engage with Him.

  4. Even though there will be times of discouragement, we are comforted to know He is with us at all times. He is with us when we are joyful and He is with us when we are discouraged. Great message. Thank you.

  5. Amen, Melissa. He is faithful when our emotions waver.

  6. Good work, Pastor Joshua. Sometimes the darker the place, the more brilliant God’s light flows. That candle flame of hope drives out darkness. I’m working on it.

  7. We all are, Warren. May we all be encouraged to worship God in our discouragement. That's where we find hope.

  8. What a wonderful reminder that we need to praise God in good times and bad. I especially love the last line, as it reminds me to be patient, as God is not finished writing my story yet. Thank you.

    1. Isn't it wonderful that He's still writing our story? Patience is not my default mode, but knowing that God is working gives me strength to keep moving forward.

  9. Thanks Josh for sharing your thoughts and encouraging us. I love it when I hear the same truths from different places. Last week our pastor shared Exodus 20:21: "The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was." God is present in our light and dark times.

    1. Thank you, Marilyn. I think it's amazing when God puts the same message in front of us through different experiences. It get's my attention for sure.

  10. Wow wow wow! I always like to look at the chapters before and after the most popular verses, but I never have for this one! Wow.

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Jessie. the transition from Psalm 22 to Psalm 23 is one of my favorites. It comforts me when I'm struggling and it really helps me put the 23rd Psalm in perspective when it seems unattainable.

  11. Thank you, Joshua, for this timely reminder. What a comfort that God's ways are not our ways, yet he's with us all the way.

    1. You're welcome, Lori. When we focus on God's ways instead of our own, I usually find I sense more purpose in what God's called me to do.

  12. Such powerful words, my brother! I love what you say about "Maybe you didn’t get a book contract, maybe your blog doesn’t get enough traffic. Maybe there’s something in your personal life that makes you feel like meat for the lions. Whatever it is, in your darkest moment, find a way to worship God." At the beginning, at the end, in ALL things, He is the center, the reason, the only importance.

    1. Thank you, Jessica. I'm so grateful that you were moved by this post.

  13. Such a good reminder! On those days I feel like meat for the lions have to just focus on Whose in the den with me and know that in His time someway somehow He'll receive glory through that situation or because of it, breathe and just be patient. Read this before but my phone went willynilly. Great read :)

    1. I love what you said about focusing on who's in the lion's den with you. That's exactly right. Thank you for sharing your insight.