For many of us, discouragement is most visible when we realize we failed to properly represent Christ the King. The mature Christian is constantly on a spiritual journey that effectively applies and deploys godly knowledge and principles to his or her daily living.
An effective disciple is one who models the attributes of our Savior while demonstrating the fruits of the spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Gal.5:22-26
Discouragement is often seen in the hearts of those who struggle with relationships. Despite all the great technology assisting us with communication, when it comes to effectively communicating love and heartfelt matters between individuals, many people experience frustration and disappointment. This is especially true within a family and with those we love the most.
Whenever life or relationships presents a significant challenge, step back and catch God’s perspective on the matter. God gave us His word for edification and rebuke. He desires that His children not be discouraged but encouraged. Oftentimes our personality, experience, childhood, and culture throttle our ability to deflect personal attacks or criticisms that challenge our faith and/or character. We tend to misinterpret remarks and responses as personal attacks on our reputation.
The Apostle Paul faced many challenges in his ministry. He sometimes felt discouraged and disheartened. He found solace in staying connected to his faith and knowing of God’s plan for his life. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So, death is at work in us, but life in you.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-13 (NRSV)
Satan loves to set up obstacles that discourage even the most stout-hearted individuals. This could be his best tool to demoralize people. The following story helps us understand Satan’s demoralizing game.
The devil, according to legend, once advertised his tools for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers assembled, there was one oddly-shaped tool which was labeled “Not for sale.” Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, “I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I have. It is called Discouragement, and with it, I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a man’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire.”
In the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua, you find Moses speaking the words God gave him to the discouraged Israelites, “Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged?” Dt. 1:21, Dt. 31:8, & Jos. 1:9. In Jos. 8:1 God spoke the same words directly to Joshua.
When we are discouraged it is good to remember that the Great God of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and Joshua is our God. He is still in control and can help us overcome the discouragement we face.
“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5 (NIV)
What does the power of Calvary’s Cross look like in your life? Do you feel God’s Spirit and power over your circumstances?
God’s promise to us,“When I called, you answered me” Ps. 138:3 He may answer you in ways you don’t expect or in at a time that isn’t according to your schedule. Can you patiently wait for His answer? It’s difficult, but God’s answer will come.