Life is harder than I thought it was going to be. A series of mishaps, like we experienced recently, wears one down.
Sickness never comes at a good time. Disappointments from people we were counting on make us tired. When the car breaks down, it costs time we don’t have and money we didn’t bank on. We hit the sack, and we don’t doze off as quickly as usual. We are distracted by difficulty.
When you thought you did well on the project and you find out otherwise, discouragement knocks at the door. You feel like saying, “Come on in.” My advice—don’t answer it. As soon as you own discouragement, you’re likely to say things out of character and do things you shouldn’t. Discouragement sets you up for disaster. Resist it. And—if you get discouraged, don’t camp there.
I especially tell pastors and parents, “You do not have the leisure of discouragement. Avoid it for the sake of others. It does too much damage.” If you spend time in the pit of discouragement, you can assume that you have discouraged more people than you know. Discouragement breeds discouragement. Hard to EN-courage if you are DIS-couraged.
Moses had given the leaders a double-whammy exhortation: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deut. 1:21). Those two menaces are siblings.
The twelve spies sent to check out the land were handpicked for leadership gifts. And yet they caved in. The testimony of the people: “Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart” (28).
“Cor” is Latin for “heart,” from which we get the word “courage”. To lose heart is to lose “cor.” How many times have I taken courage from my children. In my discouragement I have dis-couraged them. God have mercy!
Elijah experienced some great answers to prayer. But that alone won’t keep you from discouragement. He had some spiritual highs that trump anything we have accomplished. He singlehandedly dismantled Baal and his four hundred cronies—in one day’s work. He called down fire—and it came! Then he prophesied rain—and it fell from heaven.
Then a single threat from a wicked woman turned him from victory to defeat. He ran faster than the chariot of Ahab only days before. Now he is running for his life. He gets suicidal, feels sorry for himself, and thinks he’s the only faithful one left. He was only off by 6999.
When we’re running from our enemy rather than toward, our enemy grows in our mind. We fantasize the worst, and we say things we regret later.
Everyone’s car breaks down. But when it is compounded by sickness, a lost phone, a broken computer, and a misplaced document, we wonder who is attempting to wear us down. We’re tired of getting fired at.
By God’s grace and His alone, I choose not to surrender to discouragement. I will not surrender to self-pity and nurse my wounds, as if I deserve better than this. Because of who I am and what I am called to, I cannot afford it! By His strength, I will build up an immunity to discouragement.