As I sat down at my desk this afternoon I felt weary and could sense that old companion called depression trying to visit. I began to think about all the things on my to do list that I don’t want to do; leading me to feel guilty because I was procrastinating. As I began to pay attention to the thoughts in my mind I quickly realized how easy it is to shrink back from the call on my life in ministry as well as rationalize why I don’t have to keep doing what I’m doing. It was in this thought process when I heard the words “discouragement or discontentment.”
The word discouraged is defined by Webster’s as being deprived of courage or confidence; depressed in spirits and dejected. When the Bible is translated from Hebrew to English there are often many different English words for one Hebrew word. The word used to translate discouraged is the same word used to translate the word dismayed, châthath which means to break down by violence or confusion and fear.
The word discontent describes an uneasiness or dissatisfaction at one’s present state. Discontentment can lead one to change their circumstances by doing something about it, however, discouragement can lead to defeat if not addressed quickly.
Today is a weary day for many; a time where many believers of Jesus Christ have backslidden, gone astray and even turned their backs on God. A time when so many have become weary of the battle they have simply given up the fight. Intercessors haven’t seen their prayers answered, evangelists haven’t seen the souls saved, teachers haven’t seen the fruit of their instruction. Prophets and Apostles are standing firm to press into the call and do according to God’s will with a skeleton crew of soldiers.
The Lord says do not be discouraged, be of good courage. Do not fear for I am with you and will not forsake you.
There are multiple accounts of the Lord assuring His people not to be dismayed or discouraged but to be of courage. I noticed a theme that whenever the people were discouraged an encouraging word would be released. There have been times in my life when I was in a place of discouragement that someone would send an email or text at just the right moment. We should be a people prepared with an encouraging word at all times. This preparation can only come when we are walking in the Spirit of God.
After Moses died the Lord set Joshua in his place and told him to arise and cross the Jordan so that he and the children of Israel may receive their inheritance. God had made a promise to His people but they had yet to see it come forth. They had been walking with God for many years and His presence was with them daily in the cloud and the fire at night. God showed His faithfulness to them with provision of food and water supernaturally and yet they were still experiencing many days of discouragement.
This is exactly what happens to us as followers of Christ. We have promises spoken over us and we believe them. We have seen God’s grace and mercy over our lives yet have not seen the fulfillment of the promises received. Perhaps we have promises of provision in a career, placement in ministry, provision for ministry, promises of a husband or wife and promises of children. Maybe we have envisioned our bodies being healed, yet no manifestation of those promises. God is aware of our plight.
God was well aware of the journey that would include multiple battles for Joshua and the people; which is one of the reasons He would bring encouragement to their souls before they began the crossing.
6 "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God [is] with you wherever you go." [Jos 1:6-9 NKJV]
God is just as well informed of the times in our lives where discouragement will try to overrule His plans and purposes. “Be strong and of good courage” is spoken three times. When the Bible repeats itself, it is because God is driving a very important point or message home. We are to focus on that repeated statement. As leaders, we are to receive this encouragement and then release it to the people in our sphere of influence. We have the ability to encourage or discourage those around us with what we allow our souls to receive. By focusing on the word of God and the encouragement it brings we are able to stand against the wiles of the enemy.
Strong and Established
Courage can be considered the opposite of discourage. Where discourage can mean broken and scattered, courage not only means to be brave is also means to be strong and established. God knows that His plans for our promise land are going to bring circumstances that cause us to be buffeted by a spirit of oppression. This spirit of oppression is meant to discourage us in our follow through of God’s plans in order to reach the promise. Satan comes for only one purpose; to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).
Often times we read the words “be strong and of good courage” with the words “do not fear nor be dismayed” alongside them. Fear and discouragement go hand and hand. But God promises over and over that He will not forsake us, that He is with us and will strengthen us. Fear tells us the opposite. Fear tells us that we are alone and have to do it all on our own. Fear disables courage and enables discourage.
In this day of technology, it is very easy to enable and disable settings on our computers and cell phones. We open up an application and give it permission to input its data on our smartphone or computer. We have a similar ability in our minds. We must determine what repetitive statements we will allow to download into our thoughts. Will we enable the word of God to root deep in us and destroy wrong mindsets while building and planting kingdom thoughts or will we allow the words of the enemy of our souls to distract and destroy kingdom plans?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the grace You alone can give to us in our brokenness. Thank You for the blood of Jesus Christ that makes all things possible, including overcoming discouragement. Today I receive the promises of old as if they are new. I receive Your word that assures me You will never leave me nor forsake me and that You will strengthen me. I enter Your throne room today for grace and mercy in my time of need. I receive that which You have freely given and ask You to help me release it to those who are in need of the same. I rejoice in Your goodness today and declare victory over every enemy of my soul that would try to discourage me and derail Your plans and purposes for my life. In the precious name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen