Several people in our ward have expressed their feelings of discouragement to me in the last few days. Their discouragement lies not so much in their circumstances as in their feelings about themselves. I certainly can relate to that, and know that they are not alone. This is a problem that most people struggle with. If you don't, you are truly a rare person.
I like to use several scriptures to help myself and others combat these feelings. First, D&C 50:23:
"And that which doth not edify [build up, uplift, or enlighten] is not of God, and is darkness."
To me this means that Heavenly Father would never say anything to us that could be considered negative, a put down or even sarcastic. The devil, on the other hand, and his servants, hardly know how to speak in other terms. In fact, Satan is called "the accuser of [the] brethren...which accused them before our God day and night" (Revelation 12:10). That's how he makes his living, so consider the source.
I am not saying that all negative thoughts or feelings come from the devil; however, all negative thoughts and feelings can be put into his service, whatever the source.
If you feel an impression or words come into your mind that are negative or harsh or that you feel are putting you down and making you feel inadequate, know that those words would not and could not come from your Heavenly Father. He loves us too much to use language like that.
Another verse I like to use in counseling is from James 4:7:
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
As a son or daughter of God, you have complete power over the adversary. He doesn't want us to know that. The only way he can have power over us is if we permit it by accepting his deceptions. Now it takes practice and detective skills to overcome his wiles, and we need to learn to resist "lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11).
So how can you resist the devil? The same way the Savior did—with the truth that is found in the scriptures. Remember how after Jesus fasted for forty days, Satan came to Him when He was physically weak in order to tempt Him (Matthew 4:1-11)? Jesus met each temptation of the devil with a scripture, and Satan departed from Him.
Also, remember that is when we are weak that Satan tries to take advantage of us the most. When we are physically tired, weak, worn out, exhausted, or sick, that's when the devil tries his utmost to deceive us or to drag us down.
So if you have any thoughts or feelings like, "I can't do all this. Why did I get this calling anyway? The bishop was out of his mind. I'm not any good at this," remember that Heavenly Father would not say anything like that to you, only the devil, but he makes it so subtle that we think it is just coming from ourselves.
We can resist him! When those thoughts occur to you, you can say a prayer, "Heavenly Father, you wouldn't say anything like that to me. Please give me the power to resist the devil's evil influence." Or you can just simply say, "That's not true and I don't believe it." Satan and his servants cannot long bear the light of day, and as you become more constant in resisting him, he will flee from you.
Another verse I'd like share is a powerful one from modern scripture: D&C 88:40. If it is true, as this verse says, that "truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; [and] light cleaveth unto light," it is also true that falsehood embraces falsehood and darkness cleaves to darkness. In other words, if we follow the light, we will find more and more light, and if we follow darkness, we will draw more and more darkness to us.
As you resist the devil and appeal often to your Heavenly Father, you will draw more and more light to you, and the darkness will become more and more distinct and distant. As we follow the light, we will find ourselves resembling this final word from D&C 50:24:
"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."
May our light grow brighter and brighter as we detect and resist the adversary, the "accuser of our brethren."