Everyone gets discouraged. It’s a part of the human experience. There’s a good chance you’re discouraged right now about something. King David wrote of his discouragement in Psalm 142, saying, “My spirit is overwhelmed… No one cares for my soul… I am brought very low.” Unusual words for a godly king who was described as being, “the apple of God’s eye”! But even godly people get discouraged.
Discouragement is too valuable a tool for God to waste.
I’ve had my moments of discouragement. And so did the Apostle Peter. He was discouraged after denying the Lord three times. He fled to the wilderness and “wept bitterly”. Paul also got discouraged. He describes himself as “being burdened beyond measure… and wishing rather to die” than to carry on in the ministry. (2 Corinthians 1:8) Abraham got discouraged; so did Jacob, Moses and Samuel. Everyone gets discouraged, and from time to time, so will you.
David’s discouragement was brought on by rejection and loss. He lost everything. He lost his friends, his army, his wife, social status, reputation and any hope of normalcy in his future. Peter’s discouragement was the result of personal failure. Paul’s discouragement was brought on by grueling hardship. But God called all of these men, and so you have to assume it’s necessary for something. But, what?
Discouragement is not the issue, but how we react to it is!
And often we don’t react well. Like King David , discouragement causes us to flee and and disengaged from everyone. He simply wanted to be alone in the Cave of Adullam. Peter essentially backslid and was done with ministry. His plan was to be a fisherman. (John 21:3) Paul wanted to give up; be done with life and go to heaven.
But discouragement does something wonderful in the soul. It propels us to God.
At his moment of great discouragement, Paul wrote, “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9) Discouragement gives us no other option than to trust God. When all our efforts fail and we’re running low on hope, there remains a still, small voice whispering, “Trust Me.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
How do you react to discouragement?
The writer of Hebrews offers a great word of advice: “Consider Him who endured such hostility against Himself lest we grow weary and discouraged in our souls.” (Hebrews 12:3) His advice? “Consider Him…” Set your mind on Him; dwell upon, long for and wait for Him. Yes, discouragement isn’t all that bad if its outcome draws us to Jesus.
Today, slip away with Jesus. Tomorrow you may not be as discouraged.