Day 12: Finding Courage in Discouragement


On this 12th day of Advent, Norman Vincent Peale, the founder of Guideposts, reminds us how powerful and constructive positive thoughts can be...

23 Days of Advent with Guideposts founder Norman Vincent Peale

Day 12: Finding Courage in Discouragement

As the New Year approaches, why carry the burden of old discouragements with you?

Recently, a middle-aged woman named Helen White, went to live in Miami, Florida, after her husband died. Every day she went to the park to sit in the sun. But there was little sunshine in her mind. She was ill and had very little money.

Day after day she sat hopelessly, until one day she decided to put her problem in the hands of God. But it all seemed so futile.

On Christmas Day she had a strange urge to go over to the Recreation House in the park. She was so frail she had trouble walking that far.

A number of old people were sitting around, gloomy and lonely on Christmas. The same urge led this woman to play the piano. Presently she heard at her shoulder the quavering voice of an old man, singing.

Slowly others joined, and soon they were all singing Christmas carols. She saw that their facts were transformed. She, herself, was transformed.

Week after week she came back and the same thing happened until hundreds crowded the hall and the session was moved to the park band shell. Regularly this woman now leads from three to five thousand people in singing America’s old songs of faith.

One man, hearing her, was so impressed that he put her in charge of a large apartment house. Today she is one of the most dynamic women in her city.

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Mrs. White wrote me: “Many oldsters say, My mother used to sing those songs. I guess it shows no matter how far we roam, our mothers’ prayers and songs follow.”

How can an average person rise out of discouragement?

First, realize that discouragement is an attitude of mind. You become discouraged because your thoughts are. Emerson said that a man is what he thinks.

To counteract the discouraged thought, pass through your mind a thought of faith. A famous financier daily breathes in faith and breathes out all discouraging and depressing ideas.

Naturally you cannot actually breathe out a thought, but your mind can use breathing in and breathing out as a symbol of action against destructive thoughts.

I tried this myself and was amazed how my mental attitude improved.

Christ has given us the example by which we can rise above any discouragement, however dark, “however long held, however complicated.

As the author of the 42nd Psalm said: “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, who is the health of my countenance.”

This story first appeared in the January 1954 edition of Guideposts

Read the Day 11 entry | Read the Day 13 entry