Although all of us seem to have our “good days” and “bad days,” there’s one very dangerous trap that we must avoid at all costs if we are to walk in the blessing of God. The enemy’s favorite weapon to use against those who would seek to honor the Lord with their life, their decisions and their devotion, is discouragement.
There are multiple warnings about discouragement in scripture, but none is more clear than what the Lord said to Joshua as he was about to embark on the leadership of the children of Israel out of bondage after the death of Moses. Joshua 1:9 reads, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Discouragement often begins with a small disappointment, whether that be something that is said casually or intentionally by another family member or friend; or something more tangible like loss of a client or perhaps a poor performance on a test in school, or whatever it might be. But real discouragement sets in when we have a series of these things and it appears that no matter what we try to do, we continue to come up against an obstacle that won’t move and we get discouraged.
Discouragement is an attitude that prohibits faith from arising in your soul to believe that the promises of God are true. Discouragement is based on a lie that God doesn’t care and that what’s happening to you is outside of His control when scripture clearly says the opposite. Romans 8:28 declares that “God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
Not only does discouragement affect us at a personal level and, in many ways, paralyzes our ability to maintain a spirit of expectation and confidence that God will meet our needs and provide for us according to His perfect plan and abundant resources, but it also affects us at a corporate level.
It’s my sense right now that there’s quite a high level of discouragement in our nation. People are discouraged because there seems to be a rising tide of negativity that’s acting out not just in political rhetoric but in violence and intimidation in our public square and in many cities across the country, including right here in Pittsburgh. I’ve heard more people say in the past few weeks that they’re getting weary of this battle against the covid-19 virus, but even more so the way that this crisis has been used politically to pit Americans one against another based on a play for power in our government.
However, fear and discouragement go hand in hand. Fear is the sense that something hurtful or even destructive will happen to us and discouragement is the sense that we can’t do anything about it. However, it is very clear in scripture that we have been given authority over a spirit of discouragement and along with that, the power to declare our faith in God’s promises over anything that would bring fear into our lives.
Jesus said in John 16:33,”I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation (trouble, persecutions, stress) but take heart! (or be encouraged!) for I have overcome the world!”
There are two specific ways in which we can fight discouragement. One is to continually spend some time bringing focus to our relationship with Jesus, spending time in His presence and allowing His word to permeate our mind as well as our hearts. To not do this is to deprive your spirit of the very nourishment that it needs to fight these battles.
The second thing is to spend time with others who you know will be supportive of you in whatever circumstance you face and will likely be able to bring words of encouragement, edification, and exhortation. (1 Corinthians 14:3) for the very situations that you’re in. (I have personally experienced this a number of times in just the past few weeks in various small groups and prayer gatherings of which I’ve been a part.)
Don’t underestimate the power of discouragement or ignore it’s ability to rob you of God’s best. Instead, hear the Lord speaking His life to you and encouraging you to be “strong and courageous, not terrified nor discouraged” and you’ll begin to see the shift in your attitude that will bring about the release of God’s blessing and power in every area of your life!
Stay strong loved ones!