Are you trying to follow God’s direction but keep experiencing setbacks, delays and disappointments? Do you have a Spirit-inspired vision for a project or invention but constantly hear criticism that it can’t be done? Are you planning an event that will glorify God and getting slammed by financial and logistical nightmares?
Of course, bad things can happen at any time. But let’s face spiritual realities: the devil is a jerk. He relishes in hindering people from realizing their God-given dreams. When circumstances around us deteriorate, he’s right there to hit us with discouragement. As believers, we need to recognize this as the demonic weapon it is and lift our shields of faith.
I’m not making light of the heaviness and depression that assail us when we’re discouraged. I’ve succumbed enough to know how powerful discouragement can be. When faced with rejection, denial, criticism, and loss, the apostle Paul’s admonishment to ‘rejoice always’ seems like a cruel joke. I’m more tempted to just curl up on the couch with a pint of Chubby Hubby watching Frasier reruns. (Yes, I’ve wallowed in that calorie-laden pit of self-pity more times than I’d care to admit!)
But when we’re at our lowest, that’s when we need to remember why we’re being bombarded with discouragement in the first place. Satan wouldn’t bother to derail our faith and sabotage our plans if he didn’t believe God would show Himself strong on our behalf to bring those plans to fruition. Rather than submitting to those gloomy feelings, that’s exactly the time we should heed Paul’s directive to worship God. After all, which do we believe more—God’s promise or the devil’s lies?
Let’s look at this account of the Israelites in bondage in Egypt:
“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment…And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”
Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor (Exodus 6:6-9, NIV).
It’s no coincidence that just before the Lord was about to do the greatest miracles ever witnessed, the Israelites were paralyzed by defeat. Almighty God Himself gave His word that He would deliver them, but they wouldn’t listen to the truth. Why? Discouragement had undermined their faith in God’s ability to work on their behalf.
In hindsight, it’s easy to criticize the Israelites because we know about the Red Sea parting, the manna, the fire by night and the cloud by day. But what would have happened if the Israelites continued to be so discouraged, they never bothered to fulfill the Passover requirements? We know that later, in the desert, their discouragement over the spies’ report of giants in the land caused them to miss out on entering their promised inheritance. How many times in our own lives were we on the verge of receiving a tremendous outpouring of God’s provision but missed it because we gave in to discouragement?
We can’t underestimate the power of keeping our faith and confession. Discouragement is only a sign of impending failure if we surrender to it. When we cling to God’s word despite every negative circumstance around us, He backs up His promises. In fact, when we’re feeling overwhelmed by discouragement, that’s when we should intentionally look up and thank God—the devil’s discouragement may be the biggest sign that God is about to do something astounding. Let’s not let Satan have more faith in God’s ability to do the impossible than we do!
Lord, I pray for everyone reading this who may be feeling weary and defeated by circumstances around them. We approach your throne of grace now with confidence, knowing we’ll receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). I break the hold of discouragement and heaviness over them in the name of Jesus. I bless the reader with joy and peace in their inner man. Thank you for lifting us out of this slimy pit of discouragement and setting our feet on a rock. You give us a firm place to stand (Ps. 40:2). We know we can be strong and take heart because our hope is in you (Ps. 31:24). Because we choose to hope in you, we’ll never be put to shame (Ps. 25:3). We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved (Heb. 10:39). We trust in you, Lord. We will live by faith, not by what we see in our circumstances (2 Cor. 5:7). You are with us; You are our helper. We will look in triumph on our enemies (Ps. 118:7). Yes, thanks be to you Lord—You always lead us in triumph in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14). Amen!