Discouragement is a common visitor to the hearts of us all. The Bible gives examples of people of faith who met with discouragement. Elijah was depressed and discouraged right after his great victory on Mount Carmel. Moses faced discouragement often in leading the multitude through the desert and he let God know about it! So we can expect discouragement to pay us a visit but we don’t want it to move in as a permanent tenant in our hearts. We must learn to escort it out of our lives and live free of it.
Discouragement is to be fearful or disheartened. When we’re discouraged we may feel hopeless. We may think, “What’s the use?” Discouragement causes doing the will of God to seem like an act of futility. That’s why God cannot use a discouraged person. We see this in Moses’ instruction to the children of Israel before going into battle.
“The officer shall speak to the people, and say, ‘What ;man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’” Deuteronomy 20:8
God tells the fainthearted and discouraged to go home because allowing them to stay might cause others to also lose heart. It seems that discouragement is contagious! We see the same thing when Gideon was assembling his army.
"Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained. Judges 7:3
There were 22,000 who were discouraged and left. God cannot use discouraged people.
Like everything else in our lives we must take our discouragement to the Lord. Like David who “encouraged his heart in the Lord” when he faced the dreadful loss of his family as well as the families of his men we must learn how to encourage our hearts in the Lord. When discouraging things come into our lives we can either run away from God or run to Him—so run to Him!
I have found that the Lord doesn’t always remove the discouraging situations but He does come along side and it is His presence that dispels the fear and strengthens what is weak in me. I have found that He is indeed the God of all encouragement. And even though my situation may still be threatening or alarming His peace overrules it all. I’m able to function again. I’m able to smile again knowing the Lord is with me.
Life is not easy. Difficult things happen. Our plans get disrupted. Our hearts feel the pain of wounds inflicted, sometimes at the hand of a friend. God can deliver us but sometimes He doesn’t. He has something better in mind. We can trust His heart. We can draw near to Him knowing that He will draw near to us. He is faithful and true. He is a very present help in times of trouble. Do not be discouraged. Do not be afraid.