Discouragement is the greatest enemy (diluent) of strength. It crumbles a person completely insofar as it can lead him to total failure. It begins by killing his inner potency and then makes the outer man completely useless. The longer men spend in it the greater the loss incurred. It appears from situations that are not conducive. It is the oft used weapon of Satan against believers and preachers of the Word. Satan processes it against them through men and circumstances they do not wish to engage with. As followers of Jesus we do not wish to be discouraged by hurdles, discomforts and losses, though we know we have to face them. That desire not to face them becomes our vulnerability for discouragement. It is common to all; there’s no exception. It is then the factor that fuels Satan’s mind against us. The issue that there is vulnerability is not at all surprising. The issue is overcoming it knowing that it will appear and that it can be overcome.
Discouragement is the result of certain things happening to cause disruption. It can often remain for short periods owing to the low intensity of circumstances. It is at its high when circumstances or things remain unchanged for a prolonged period of time. It can absolutely make its home in us leaving us in uncertainty, fear and hopelessness. People suffer with it and choose alternatives to avoid its influence only to notice it seeping into other areas of life affecting them and their productivity. God’s word perfectly identifies it and its nature. “Thus in Judah it was said, ‘The strength of the burden bearers is failing, Yet there is much rubbish; And we ourselves are unable To rebuild the wall’” (Neh. 4:10). It was the enemies’ presence that caused circumstances of great discouragement for God’s people. Too many of them did not allow them to feel secure. It was as if they were failing in their efforts or they felt they would fail regardless of what they did. The scheming intellect of the enemies and the circumstances they triggered were beyond acceptability. The strength of God’s children wasn’t enough to cope. Have you felt this way? Then you are bearing burden. In fact, I am sure we all have and perhaps still are. I often faced and still face great discouragements in proclaiming Jesus and His gospel in the Spirit to those who think Him only from earthly reasons and habits. The enemies prevailed when I had opportunities to proclaim Him. Thankfully, I had the God of Nehemiah by my side that opened new doors every time they prevailed. He still creates opportunities through those whom He chose and has made this a test for those who prevailed over my opportunities. My enemies of the gospel plan and work as before to discourage me. They are ignorant to the fact that God never gets tired of creating opportunities and neither does He let His workers get tired, but they will be so because of His power working against them.
As negative circumstances exist, discouragement is like the failing strength of the burden bearers. It leaves much to do like much rubbish and induces inability like being unable to build the wall. But trusting God and seeking His strength as those burden bearers never disappoints. This is true not only in a case like mine, but can also be true for you where discouragement makes it mark. You can defeat it by the strength God provides. But you must first step out of cauldron. You do it by doing the following. “Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually” (Ps. 105:4). While many don’t see its benefit assuming time restraints, a huge mistake others commit is ceasing to seek God’s strength and guidance after a while. They lose focus for reasons not within God’s sphere. As some discouragements can remain a long time it is a must we continually seek Him. We ought not to give it a rest, if we wish to prevail. At times it may take years as did for Joseph or the apostle Paul. Yet, we must be in sight of His face and strength that we do not lose courage.
Apart from the above, our sin acts as a powerhouse for discouragement in us. It causes situations we can’t tolerate or diffuse. It even makes seeking God to cease. “Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent” (Jer. 19:4). Because of sin it will be God who causes us discouragement. Sin becomes a smoke screen preventing us from sighting God. This too can be cancelled by seeking Him. He will first wipe out our sin by His ways and then strengthen us for glory. In doing so He prepares us to become the followers of His Son. “but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (John 14:31). We acquire the nature of Jesus toward performing His will. In observing all that He wants us to do we gain utmost confidence for triumph and so, will not let discouragement overcome us even while facing it. His commands nurture us for His will and for envisioning victory by faith.
When it is not sin, discouragement will be the work of the enemies. These will interfere with our efforts to please God by creating opposing situations. But we have the greatest advantage against them, “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom. 1:19). They do it knowing they are working against God; they’ve faced His works and yet, work under false hope with scorched conscience. On the other hand, all we have to do is maintain purity before God. We will triumph. God has taken the responsibility of silencing them even before the foundation of the world. He will punish all unrighteousness, but in order that the world should know that it is unrighteousness and that His kingdom gains exponential success He lets them prevail for a time. We find this more and truer as we continually seek His face.
Remember how you were before God called you and redeemed you. “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led” (1 Cor. 12:2). In essence, you were once apart from God, His law and ways. Now, you know the new life you have is satisfying to your body, soul and spirit and that the old was burdensome and wretched. When this is the case, what will be the outcome of the enemies of the gospel and righteousness, but failure, confusion, loss and penalty? Though they know God, they are being led away by their mind, which they made as their idol.
Each time you speak the gospel and those who speak it from mind hear it or you live by it and those who live by the flesh see it, they make themselves your enemy by the pretense that exists in them. It is part of what must take place. “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (2 Thess. 2:3). What they practice is apostasy. So, do not panic as if all is lost when you are discouraged by them. You are in fact contributing to that which God willed toward His purpose. And when you are discouraged seek His strength and guidance unwaveringly so you do not lose heart.