Are you discouraged? How do you encourage yourself?
One of the most useful tools of the devil in these last days is a discouragement. Devil often used this tool to attack the believers to stop their progress in spiritual growth and curtail the effectiveness. Someone correctly said it is his favorite tool as the days come near for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Looking through the pages of the Bible, we can see discouragement in the life of many faith warriors. Let me bring to your memory few of such discouragements found in the pages of the Scripture.
David echoes of his words of discouragement in Psalms 55. The slandering tongues of his enemies, threats of the wicked paralyzed him with fear and trembling. He was so discouraged and he wrote ““Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
Definitely the words of David sound deep discouragement and depression. He wanted to fly away and stay in the desert. He wants to hurry to a place of shelter. David says in verse 12-15, if an enemy were insulting him, he could endure it. If a foe were rising against him, he could hide. However, it was the closest companion, his close friend, with whom he once enjoyed sweet fellowship in the house of God who turned against him. David and his previous close friend who turned to be his enemy used to walk around among the worshippers in the temple.
Beloved, your closest friends can become your enemy. You dear friend can walk away from you and deceive you and harm you. It causes discouragement in your walk with the Lord. What is after all Lord, he and I walked together and worshipped the Lord, and now he became my enemy plotting things against me to destroy my effectiveness and God-given opportunities. What would you do in such harsh and heartbreaking situations?
Moses, the most significant spiritual leader of Israel, the lawgiver of the nation, wanted to die and even asked God to kill him because of his deep discouragement and frustration. Listen to his words in Numbers 11:14-15, “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” Moses was trying to fulfill God’s call on his life to care and lead the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. No people group in this world witnessed God’s mighty work on behalf of them except the children of Israel. With a mighty hand and outstretched arm, LORD delivered them from Pharaoh’s bondage by humiliating and kneeling him down to the ground and dust of Egypt. The LORD open a road in the middle of the red sea and made children of Israel walk through it to save them from the Egyptian army. He fed them with heavenly bread. His presence of pillar was with them all through the day and night. After seeing the faithfulness of the LORD and his servant Moses, do you know what they thought when things got harder on the way to the promised land? To find a new leader and go back to slavery in Egypt. We can be related to the depth of the feelings of Moses. He said the burden of these people is too heavy for me. Please go ahead and kill me if you found favor in your eyes and do not let me face my own ruin.” What would a Bible teacher do when the sheep go against him and wishes to get a new leader to replace him? What a discouragement to the one who faithfully ministered to them and their children?
Job was so discouraged and broken when his wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” The man lost all- all his wealth, health, reputation, and children. The person who should have been with him in the lowest valley experience said harsh and destructive words that broke his heart into pieces. (Job 2:9-10).
The LORD called Jeremiah the prophet even before his birth. The word of the LORD said to him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5). Jeremiah was called by God to speak His Word to a disobedient and rebellious people. He faithfully did it. However, later in his life, he wanted to quit preaching because of continuous mocking and persecutions. He said to the LORD, “I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me… the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long. He was so discouraged that he did not want to speak the word of God anymore. However, as soon he said he will mention his word or speak any more in his name, his word became like a fire in his heart, a fire shut up in his bones. (Jeremiah 20:7-9).
Beloved, I do not care who you are. You may be the wealthiest person in the world. You may be the most healthy person in the world. You may be a pious and most God fearing person. Life throws trashes at you. Life wounds and bruise you. You are not going to be exempt. I am not exempt either. None of us are. If everything is going ok with you, wait. You would figure out you are living in a broken world with sins and you deal and mingle with sinful people. You fight with sinful temptations. Life bends you down. Life discourages you. Life throws its sharp arrows at you to destroy your faith, confidence, courage, and effectiveness. The tool ‘discouragement’ is the favorite one devil likes to use on believers all through the history and even more in these last days.
The reason why we get discouraged is that our expectations are not realized as we imagined. We wanted progress; instead, we experienced regression. We expected promotion, but we got a demotion. We lovingly brought forth our children, encouraged them in God’s ways. However, they become rebellious and selfish. God called us and gave us a passion for the word of God. You faithfully started speaking and teaching the word. Enemies arose from your own church/community and began throwing stones at you. The person whom you most trusted abandoned you. Devil use those times to discourage and depress you so that you would quit from what God called you for.
When I am discouraged, how can I get encouragement? Where will I get it?
1. Bible affirms this spiritual truth- “God’s calling and gifts are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29. That statement is so important. Verse 29 is a small verse, but it is a complete verse. It speaks volume to us in our discouragements. It is a lifeline for you and I. People may leave you, they may hurt you, they may imprison you, they may ridicule and mock you… but always the one who called and gave you a divine work to do it is with you to provide you with the grace, strength, and power to finish it correctly. You may get discouraged but do you know what? You should not, and you must not quit, because God promised his calling and the gifts he gave you are irrevocable. Irrevocable means not revocable. It is unalterable, irreversible, irremediable, final and cannot be changed. God called you and gave you the gift you have. No matter what happens in your life, his calling and his gifts are irrevocable. Keep it your heart.
Amid all discouragements, the Bible asks you to be confident because God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6). You see God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. How does he work in you? By giving you the desire and the ability to do what pleases him. Because God gave you the desire and he gave the power to do what pleases him in the past, do not get discouraged and quit, when going gets tough. Going gets tough because you are in the center of God’s will and the devil hates it. He works through people around you to discourage and destroy your life of faith in Jesus Christ.
2. Stay focused on the will of God for your life. The most discouragement times typically comes just before or after your significant spiritual progress and victory. One of the most disturbing and painful time in the life of Jesus Christ was just before the crucifixion, in the garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:39 says, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” However, Jesus rebounded from that depressing moment because he concentrated his eyes on the will of God. He did not focus on his pain or cruel and unthankful people around him. He was sent from heaven on a rescue mission to save you and me from our sins and reconcile us to God. He focused on the will of God.
I believe the second troubled time in the incarnation of Jesus was just before his public ministry, just after the baptism, when he received Father’s commendation that said, “ This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (John 3:16-17). It was the temptation account in the wilderness. (John 4). The devil tempted and tried his best to discourage, re-route and ruin the mission of Jesus. Jesus again focused on the will of God. The weapon he used to fight this time and focus on the Father was the words of God in the Bible. He used the word of God as the sword to defeat the devil. I would say focus on the will of God and use the word of God as a sword when each tempting discouragements enters into your heart. Keep as many Bible verse memorized so that you can use it to stand against evil schemes. The Devil has to leave when He hears the child of God claim God’s promise by his mouth.
3. Remember God is the encourager of the discouraged. Bible says in 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement. He encourages us in every trouble, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any trouble, through the very encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.”(TLV). Few things you would learn from this passage. Number one our Lord is the God is the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement. God is God of all encouragement. He is full of encouragement for you. Number two: He encourages us in every trouble. Did you notice it said “every trouble?” Every trouble means simply every trouble- self-caused or externally caused. In every trouble we face in our Christian life, God the Father is there to encourage us. Why he does this? He encourages us in every trouble of your life so that you are equipped to encourage those who are in troubles. Because you received encouragement from God when you faced all your troubles, you can turn around encourage others who are going through the troubles you experienced in the past. You remember how God encouraged you in your troubles- may be by His word or through other true believers. Now you do the same to those who are in trouble. Beautiful right? Beloved, God your father is the father of all compassion, and he is the encourager of discourager. He encourages you in every trouble you face, regardless of what. There is a saying God never waste a pain in his children’s life. It is true. Your specific trouble or suffering and the encouragement you received are the divine tools you are going to use to encourage others. Make sense?
4. God encourages us with his personal and distinct presence. God is present everywhere all the time. It is called his omnipresence. However, our God’s distinguishable, distinct, clear, obvious and manifest presence is with his Children who are bought by the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. In all of his discouraging troubles, God’s distinct and manifest presence was with Joseph. Bible repeatedly says the LORD was with Joseph in Genesis 39:2 and 39:21. God’s manifest presence gave Joseph success amid his sufferings. The LORD showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. It was God’s manifest presence with his dear child Joseph that caused him to become the Prime Minister of Egypt – the second person after Pharaoh in the whole land of Egypt- after a severe suffering period of ten years. (Genesis 50:20).
God’s manifest presence was in Jacob’s life on the way to Padan Aram, in Laban’s house, on his way back to his father’s household and his later old years. He understood and testified to Laban and to God that it is the LORD who gave him success, although he was under the devious schemes of Laban. (Genesis 30:27, 31:40-42, 32:9-10). Now we can all look back and see God’s obvious presence was with Jacob by looking at the nation Israel in our world map. Through all human struggles, jealousy, competition, apparent schemes in their family experiences, God was making a nation to fulfill the everlasting covenant He made with Abraham in and through Jacob’s twelve children. In a believer’s troubles and sufferings, in your personal struggles, the eternal God has a unique purpose and plan to fulfill for his name and glory. When you understand this big picture, you cannot afford to get encouraged. His manifest, clear and obvious presence is with his children.
I will give one more example of his manifest presence in his children’s pain and sufferings. Daniel and his three friends were thrown into the blazing fire by the king Nebuchadnezzar. He ordered the fire to become seven times hotter than usual. Because the king had given strict orders for the furnace to be made extremely hot, the flames burned up the guards who took the men to the furnace. Then Daniel and his friends, still tied up, fell into the heart of the blazing fire. Then the king leaped to his feet in wonder and amazement. He questioned his officials didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the blazing furnace? The said, yes, we threw into the fire. King asked why do I see four men walking around in the fire? He said the three men have not tied up anymore. They are loose in the fire, and there is no sign of being hurt-and the fourth one walking with them in the fire looks like “a son of the gods.” You see, the eternal Son of God, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, came down and walked inside the fire with them. He did not stay outside the fire and gave orders for their rescue and protection. He walked with them right in the fire. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to come out of the fire. The governors, servants and the king’s official gathered around them and witnessed there was no effect of fire on these three men. Their hair of their head was not damaged in any way, nor their trousers damaged. They did not even have the smell of fire upon them. (Daniel 3:8-30).
5. Understand the Lord is the good shepherd. (John 10:11-14). He is gentle and humble in his dealings with you. (Mathew 11:28). He will not leave you when a wolf comes to attack you. Hired shepherd does that. But not our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the good shepherd, gave his life as a ransom for you, dear one. Don’t you know he made a covenant of blood with you? Luke 22:19-20 says, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” When people and Satan accuse you, Christ your advocate in heaven comes for your defense and protection. (Zechariah 3:1-5).
6. Christ Jesus deals with you mercifully, kindly and gently when you suffer and discouraged. Listen what prophet Isaiah prophesied about our Lord Jesus Christ in Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed He will not break, And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.” Beloved, life bruise you. It wounds you. However, when you are injured by life, Christ will not break you. He deals with you gently with compassion, care, and love. If you heard teaching otherwise, may I tell you did not understand the truth about Jesus Christ? You would say I am bruised. He comes and gently apply his balms and soothes you. He comforts you. He encourages you. He carries you in his shoulders and spends all he has for your healing. (Luke 10:25-37).
You had a good testimony for the Lord in the past. You enjoyed the services, spiritual songs, and Bible studies. However, something happened to you badly. You are discouraged, and you feel like you are now a dimly burning wick. You thought your light would extinguish soon. However, the Lord gently comes to you, and he will not let your dimly burning wick extinguish. Instead, He fans the flame on you to brighten your candle. One word from him is enough for you to burn again brightly for Him. Just one powerful you heard is good enough to make you stand back. He sends his word to you and fans the flame still. Such is the character of our merciful, compassionate Lord Jesus.
Peter thought the flame extinguished because of the terrible mistake he did by denying Jesus three times. However, Jesus sought after him and waited for him with chargrilled breakfast, invited him to come and eat breakfast. With gentleness, compassion, and love, Jesus dealt with a discouraged Peter. He fans the flame again on him by his loving and merciful words. (John 21). Peter became the most important disciple out of all the twelve disciples. His one preaching on the day of Pentecost led three thousand people to salvation. (Acts 2:37-42). The Lord Jesus Christ will fan the flame on you as well in your discouragements. He will not break a bruised reed. He will not extinguish a dimly burning wick.