I heard a preacher say one time how that “Discouragement is the devil’s number one tool” against believers. That being said, another preacher profoundly stated how that discouragement is one the purest forms of selfishness. Considering both of these statements and how both would seem to be true and support one another. Discouragement most often is how “we” feel, not how a situation is truthfully represented. Webster’s defines discouragement as, “The act of disheartening, or depriving of courage; the act of deterring or dissuading from an undertaking; the act of depressing confidence.” Now, are we saying that outside forces do not contribute to discouragement? No, we are not saying such, however as with anything, we have a choice to make, whether we allow ourselves to become discouraged to the point of making unwise decisions. Let us consider some instances in the bible of discouragement.
#1 – The Israelites after a battle with the Canaanites. Some of the Israelites were captured and they vowed to God that if He would deliver them they would utterly destroy the Canaanite’s cities. God heard their prayer and answered. The Lord then led them from Mt. Hor to Edom by way of the Red Sea. The way from Mt. Hor to Edom was not long, yet God chose to lead them via the Red Sea, which would make the journey longer than it should have been. Number 21:4 states, “the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.” The Israelites assumed that, because they defeated the Canaanites, that God would lead them directly into the promised land, however this was not the case, therefore they became discouraged and this resulted in them, as usual, speaking against God and Moses. They were ready to “go back” rather than go forward.
#2 – David writes in Psalm 37, “Fret not thyself.” The word fret doesn’t mean the same as discouragement, however, when studied, David is writing about a response to things that hurt us, anger us and so forth. What ensues when we allow outside circumstances to dictate our spirit is none other than discouragement. David writes about discouragement from being agitated over the prospering of evil men. David makes sense, due to the fact of how many believers allow themselves to be discouraged, because of their sacrifice and service to God, yet the evil men of the world seem to get ahead “in” the world.
#3 – The apostle Paul writes multiple times in such a way we can see the discouragement he endured. In 2 Tim. 4:16 Paul writes of how “all men forsook him.” Now, the reason we may not see this as something that discouraged Paul is maybe because he does not dwell upon it, because in the next verse he makes it clear that the Lord stood with him and strengthened him. Paul wrote also about how Demas had forsaken him. Does it matter why Demas forsook him or why those other men refused to stand with Paul? No, it does not, but what does matter is that Paul mentions these things in his letters.
We have established how God’s people and two of God’s powerful men were affected by discouragement. We should make note of how they overcame this virus. We already made mention how that Paul says the Lord did not forsake him, but rather strengthened him. What’s important here is the purpose of God in Paul’s life. What was this purpose? Well, I can say what it was not and that is that Paul acts upon his own desire and will. Paul states that God strengthens him for something greater than himself and that was the preaching of His word unto to the Gentiles. Paul writes that God would deliver him from every evil work and would preserve him. Paul overcame his discouragement by not allowing his circumstances to dictate his life or his walk with God.
The bible records in 1 Sam. 30:6, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” David was in a hard place, but rather than give up, he “encouraged himself.” It’s a fact that there may not be an encouraging word from others, therefore we have a choice. We can either wait around for what may not come, which may have a negative influence upon our life or we can encourage ourselves. I believe that is exactly what Paul did as well. These two men reminded themselves of the promise of God. Now, if we survey the Israelites, you will find that all but two from the original group that left Egypt perished in the wilderness. They murmured and complained about their circumstance constantly to Moses and to God. The Israelites represent that part of the population that allow their circumstances to dictate their relationship with God, become discouraged and never really see the power of God.
Today claim the promises of God to care for you and sustain you. Keep in mind that this, too shall pass, although it may pass like a kidney stone, it will pass. Allow God to work His will in your life, by remembering it’s not our will that glorifies Christ. Through pleasing God, we will suffer attacks from the enemy and one of those most powerful attacks is to convince us that God doesn’t care, His people don’t understand and that we’d be better of somewhere else. Keep one thing in mind, for 6,000 years Satan has been working and he has become very efficient at what he does. He knows what he’s doing in your life, do you? Better yet, become more knowledgeable of what God desires to do in your life and maybe discouragement won’t be so easily used by the enemy.
Until He comes again…