The heart is deceitful so we can’t trust our heart. We have to trust in the Lord, not in how we feel or what we see.
Jeremiah 17:5-10 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
According to the news, 76,000 people in the Sacramento area are discouraged and 5% of the people in the world are discouraged and depressed. Discouragement is not just one person’s problem, but is universal in affecting everyone.
It was once announced that the devil was going out of business and would offer all tools for sale to whoever would pay his price. On the night of the sale they were all attractively displayed, and a bad looking lot they were: Malice, Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Sensuality, and Deceit, and all the other implements of evil were spread out, each marked with its price.
Apart from the rest lay a harmless-looking wedge-shaped tool, much worn and priced higher than any of the rest.
Some one asked the devil what it was.
“That’s discouragement,” was the reply.
“Why do you have it priced so high?”
“Because,” replied the devil, “it is more useful to me than any of the others. I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that when I could not get near him with any of the others, and when once inside I can use him in whatever way suits me best. It is so much worn because I use it with nearly everybody as very few people yet know it belongs to me.”
It hardly need be added that the devil’s price for discouragement was so high that it was never sold. He still owns it and is still using it today. [E. E. Hendricks, 1000 Evangelistic Illustrations, Aquilla Webb]
The devil uses discouragement on everyone. Discouragement: feeling of having lost hope or despair in facing problems. David and his men were discouraged when they found Ziklag burned and their families carried away.
I Samuel 30:1-3 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any…but carried them away, and went on their way. So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
David was weeping along with all his men and greatly distressed, but he chose to encourage himself in the Lord.
I Samuel 30:4-8 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives were taken captives…David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God…And David enquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
Sometimes we can wake up discouraged for no reason. We have to make a conscious choice to encourage ourselves in the Lord every day. If David hadn’t prayed, he wouldn’t have known what God wanted him to do. God gave him specific instructions to pursue the enemy and that he’d recover all. David left the weak ones behind because they needed rest to regain their strength. God let the sick Egyptian servant be left behind so David would know where the enemy went.
I Samuel 30:9-14 So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed. But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor. And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and…water…when he had eaten, his spirit came again…for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. And David said…whence art thou? And he said, I am…of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick. We made an invasion…burned Ziklag with fire.
God will always make a way to do what he wants us to do if we seek him and his word with our whole heart. The devil wants to steal, rob, and destroy us. We have to fight discouragement and we can get over discouragement but it is a repeating disease. Discouragement is contagious. If you’re constantly around discouraging people, you’ll get discouraged. The Israelites listened to the evil report about Canaan and almost all of them were discouraged.
Numbers 13:28-33 Nevertheless the people be strong…the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land…the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites…the Canaanites …Caleb stilled the people…said, Let us go up at once…for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report… saying, The land…is a land that eateth up the inhabitants…the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak…and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
They weren’t trusting God or believing what he said. They were only looking at what they could see with their eyes. They listened to the evil report and to the wrong voice, so they were discouraged. When they got discouraged, they murmured, complained, and found fault with their leaders, Moses and Aaron. They even wanted to go back to Egypt. Murmuring and complaining usually follows being discouraged. If we don’t put things on the altar, we’ll be murmuring and complaining. People make lots of choices and willingly put themselves out, and affect how their bodies will react.
Numbers 14:1-2 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried…that night. And…Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron…said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or…we had died in this wilderness!
When discouragement comes we have to choose to fight. David’s army wanted to stone him, and the Israelites wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb for being encouraged in the Lord. We need to keep encouragement no matter what others say.
Numbers 14:6-10 And Joshua…and Caleb…rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company…saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will…give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed…the Lord is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them…
Discouragement is caused by unexpected circumstances and things we don’t like. When we’re discouraged we need to pray and ask God what to do. God always has the solution. Many times he wants us to wait and be of good courage. Discouragement can be a killer if it isn’t handled. Choosing to trust God in the midst of discouragement does not mean the pain goes away. The pain David and Job felt didn’t go away, even though they encouraged themselves in God. Pain goes away slowly when grief passes. Trusting doesn’t mean the questions will go away. Job asked questions but trusted God. God didn’t fault him for his questions. God uses suffering to build our steadfastness. The hardest trials are when we learn the most. It is only in suffering and discouragement that we learn longsuffering, patience, and that God is in control. When the ship Paul was on was in a hurricane, God showed him what was going to happen and to not fear. He believed God and was encouraged. Jesus needed encouraged by an angel before his crucifixion. God wants us to be encouraged, to trust him with all our heart, and not lean on our own understanding.
Acts 27:13-25…the ship…tossed with a tempest…the third day…after long abstinence Paul stood…said, Sirs…be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life…For there stood by me this night the angel of God…Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)