Discouragement is an attempt to prevent something by showing disapproval or diving deeply into the belief of despair.
Stephen Phinney | IOM Author Blog Contributor
DISCOURAGEMENT IS A CHOICE
Do you suffer from discouragement?
That’s like asking, “Are you alive?” If a person tells you they have never suffered from discouragement, they are most likely deceived or telling you a lie. Three of my most admired pastors, Dr. Charles Solomon, Martin Luther, and Charles Spurgeon, all admitted to times of serious discouragement. JI Packer, who implored me to write the book “The Father,” said these words.
“To know that nothing happens in God’s world apart from God’s will - may frighten the godless, but it stabilizes the saints.”
Does it really stabilize the Saints?
Looking through the window of present Christianity, I would say “no.” For those who choose not to allow themselves to be confused about God’s will, the answer would be an affirmative “yes.” In modern Christianity, believers torment themselves with doubt as to the Holy will of God the Father. Many renounce their faith in Christ because their “feelings” overpower the purpose of God’s Grace. At the same time, many self-proclaimed Christians believe in the Divine sovereignty of our Lord, but the lion’s share waver in releasing the Spirit of God amid difficult circumstances – slipping into the temptations of the Giant of Discouragement.
Why do believers become discouraged? The fast answer is – they choose discouragement over victory. Since the body, soul, and Spirit need to be in harmony to defeat discouragement, God's sovereignty moves to the back seat when one or more parts are at war with one another. Believers become tired and worn out from battling this Giant without releasing Jesus from within. Not forgetting, bodily illness inclines us toward choosing to retreat over advancing in victory.
People who suffer from chronic discouragement tend to be too idealistic. They are perfectionists of sorts. Don’t get me wrong; we need to live by the ideals of God. However, the “who” does the living becomes the greatest question. When our spiritual goals elude us, disappointment arrives. When God’s goals are released in us through the Life of Jesus, courage empowers the believer repetitively.
The Sting of Repetitive Calamities
If you are like most authentic Christians, there are times when calamities come at you one after the next. When the first few arrive, your mind processes them relatively quickly and healthily. After those first few attacks, all calamities become ridiculously repetitive. Your life becomes a different story. Our bodies get tired, our souls become weakened by our failing body, and then the choice system begins to listen to the tired relentless thoughts of doubt and confusion. Needless to say, the Holy Spirit from within takes the backseat to our daily living. Discouragement is the result.
The human dictionary defines “discouragement” as depriving of courage, deterring, disheartening, or hindering. The Hebrew root word is nû', meaning break, disallow, without courage, to make of no effect. If we keep apples with apples, it communicates this. A person without courage deters from the Holy will of God, hindering the indwelling Spirit from its work, which results in no effect on daily living. That would stimulate a choice of doom, anxiety, defeat, and despair in any believer.
A common manifestation of compulsive people of discouragement is fainting - minimally extreme weakness, one of the Greek definitions of discouragement. Another description is to grow weary. In this, we find Satan’s goal for all believers. Once an individual grows weary, joy evades them. Since the joy of the Lord is our strength, the decline in one’s ability to fight the Giant of discouragement becomes the dominant force.
One of the key components in failing to fight this Giant is projecting disappointment onto God. Praying for things, or deliverance, that do not align with the Lord’s sovereign plan. It becomes selfish praying, ending in disappointment. By disregarding sovereignty, the believer sentences themselves to stumble in Grace, thus denouncing Grace's purpose, which is to sustain us when we don’t get what we asked for. Once this occurs, we flounder and wander around as a blind man in a brightly lit room with no sense of direction or understanding of God’s purpose for disappointment and suffering. It might behoove the believer to take off the blindfold of self-focus. Those who refuse to do this will lose heart.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
No question the outer body is decaying. It does offer temptations to question God’s protective provisions, yet God uses the modality of decay to cause the renewal process of our inner man – which is who we are in Christ. In fact, these tribulations come through the permissive hand of God. The Lord uses the trials His enemy throws our way to build a dependent relationship with the indwelling Life of Jesus. This adds new meaning to all things work together for good. Most don’t want to endure hardship and disappointments. Some habitually use God like He is a slot machine, expecting Him to remove all forms of trials meant to renew the inner man. While we should live and breathe at the throne in prayer, our attitude must be Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. If that results in additional suffering, our objective should be to adjust to God’s sovereign will IN our lives.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Every human suffers in the battle with this Giant. Every living, breathing soul. Furthermore, every character noted in the Bible suffered with dark days when the enemy worked to defeat their beliefs in the Lord. There is always hope. Hope produces peace. Peace is the opposing force of disappointment. There is NO peace like the peace Christ has within the believer. Those who put their hope in the Lord know that there is no greater peace whose minds are consumed with the assurance of Christ who lives within them. Believing this, the individual will experience the reality that they are NEVER alone. At the base of disappointment is the root sin of being trapped by beliefs of being alone. There is tremendous relief in experientially knowing God’s love is so strong it can override all condemning thoughts of isolation.
Have you ever met a person who gets up after every time he is knocked down? In my youth, I came home from school often with blooded wounds. On one occasion, the fight was so severe the bully left me partially blind, with a broken rib and bruises from head to toe. I asked my mother what I should do with this bully. I have never forgotten her words. Always get up, walk over to the assailant, and ask them if they are done. I did that until he graduated from high school. One year after graduation, he showed up at my apartment door on a Sunday. I invited him in, expecting he was going to finish me off. In tears, he asked, Where did you get the strength to get up after every fight and ask me if I was done? With that, I shared the Gospel. To make a long story short, he received Jesus as his Savior and now serves as a Christian leader in his community.
My experience with this bully, and many others, developed in me the leading building block of staying out of the dark place of discouragement. Trust me, I visit this dark place occasionally, yet I quickly get back up and in front of the Giant, who finds great pleasure in bullying God’s chosen people. Getting back up is the easy part. Putting my right foot forward toward the Giant is another. This requires strong character, a lack of cowardice, and a passion for turning an enemy into a friend. Not all Giants want to be friends. Most don’t.
On the other hand, since the Giants thrive off of fear, the strength of the Giant drains when fronted with a boy, a rock, and a sling. The story of David and the Giant is one of my favorite Bible tells. At a young age, I could see that David could bring the Giant down with the power of the Living God. You can too!
Many believers try to deal with discouragement incorrectly, usually by using self-effort. The most common habit is indulging themselves in “things” that deceive them into finding fulfillment: Bible reading, work, entertainment, drugs, sex, or pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. If it isn’t Jesus releasing His power within you to fight this Giant, you are a boy with a sling without a rock. Typically these self-fixes only dig them deeper into the pit of despair. Some have been known to use these fruitless efforts until they take their own lives via suicide.
The real answer is far more obvious; even a blind man can see it. Recognize when you have been knocked down. Be aware that discouragement arrives once you are down. While you are down, frustration, fatigue, failure, and fear will flood your mind. Instead of giving in to these real to life ideations, respond to the Giant by getting up immediately. If you want to use Biblical intimidation, put your right foot forward – toward the Giant. Look him in the face and ask, Are you done? As he winds his arm back for another blow, launch that rock (Jesus) in your sling right between the eyes, and watch him drop like a rock.
In closing, the practical spiritual answer is this. When you're down, cry out to God, ask for a release of Christ’s power within you, continue the work of the Lord by attempting to minister the Gospel of Jesus to the assailant, focus on the BIG picture, and never walk away until the mission has been completed. After every battle, soak yourself in the mighty Word of God. Talk to Jesus as you read the Word. Ask Him questions. Journal His answers, which are usually found in your reading. However, I journal spiritual thoughts flowing into my mind through Christ’s mind. Immediately after walking away from your time in the Word, find someone’s burden to carry. My motto is, when in pain, give your life away.
The Giant of discouragement has a mission to cut us off from giving Christ’s Life away. Satan might be ignorant, but he is not stupid. He knows that a defeated believer is a worthless believer. As long as Satan can see there is NO rock in your sling, he knows amid the battle, he isn’t the one who is soon to drop. Folks, we don’t have to be big and all-powerful when facing our Giants. We need to know the mightiest of all warriors' lives and dwells within our weak vessels. If you and I release this WARRIOR in times of trouble, that Giant will indeed drop like a rock.
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