"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God" - (Psalm 42:11).
Do you ever feel discouraged? We all do at one time or another. We live in a fallen world where we are trying to bring God's Kingdom to earth through our prayers. Dark feelings can overwhelm us when we are emotionally down, but we need to realize that even the greatest of saints got discouraged. Did you know that famous preachers like Charles Spurgeon and mighty evangelists like Billy Graham got discouraged?
I heard the story that one day the devil was auctioning off his tools. They were highly priced - laziness, pride, hate, envy, and jealousy. One tool was not for sale. One person asked, "Why is that tool not for sale?" Satan whispered, "I can't afford to get rid of that one. It's my chief tool - discouragement! I can pry open any heart with that tool, and once I'm inside, I can do anything I want!"
Everyone will encounter the devil's tool of discouragement, but we can’t live in that dark place. We must learn to resist the devil and trust in God's deliverance.
John the Baptist faced discouragement while in prison. He was a man of God who was facing doubts in that dark prison cell. He asked Jesus, “'Are you the coming One, or do we look for another?' Jesus answered and said to his disciples, 'Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me'” (Matthew 11:2-6).
Certainly John should have known who Jesus was, but there was a great warfare against this forerunner and prophet of God. He had to guard his heart against offense and the inability to understand. But Jesus honored him in his weakest moment and said that there was no one greater than John.
Another example is Elijah the prophet in 1 Kings 18 and 19. He was the good prophet facing a bad king with an evil wife, Jezebel. Elijah was the prophet for the nation in an incredibly intense time amidst evil Jezebel and 450 prophets of Baal. He is best known for challenging the prophets of Baal and inviting the whole nation to a spiritual confrontation where He prayed to God and called down fire from heaven. God answered by fire and Israel knew who was truly powerful. It was a revival moment and a major victory.
When Jezebel heard of the victory, she was filled with anger and vowed to kill Elijah. It was a spiritual attack and great warfare that overwhelmed Elijah. There was a spirit behind Jezebel that wanted to silence God’s prophets in the land and sought to kill Elijah, the prophet. Likewise there is a spirit of discouragement behind the warfare we are right now facing on earth. The warfare against Elijah made him feel so discouraged and hopeless that he wanted to actually die right after such a huge victory. Perhaps he felt totally defeated at that moment when he was emotionally down and depressed.
We also can face moments of deep darkness and discouragement in the midst of spiritual battles, especially in prayer. What are we to do in order to resist those times?
How to Overcome Discouragement in Your Life
"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" (Joshua 1:9).
There are several principles we can apply in our lives in order to overcome the tool of discouragement. The following are six ways to resist and overcome discouragement:
Give up the right to understand - Things happen that we do not fully understand. In those moments we must lay down our right to understand, and choose to trust God wholeheartedly. Our faith must come before our understanding. His ways are higher, He is in control, and He will take care of us.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).
Measure success by obedience, not outward success -We often look to numbers and outward achievements, but God sees things differently. Stay focused on obedience to what God has told you to do, and don’t compare yourself with others. God sees your worth and rejoices in it.
"'Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams'" (1 Samuel 15:22).
Daily pray God's Word over your life - Haven’t you noticed when you’re discouraged, how different you feel after God speaks to your heart through His Word? It’s as if a light goes on that dispels the darkness. When we read and pray His Word we can have a living, active dialogue with Him in our heart.
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
Choose to be faithfulness - God is faithful and He values faithfulness. Look for His "well done" in your life. Seek to be faithful over a few things and with what is in your hands now. Breakthrough is best stewarded by the faithful.
"His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’" (Matthew 25:23).
Learn the habit of giving thanks -It is hard to be discouraged with a thankful heart. Remember what God has done for you in the past, and encourage yourself in your history with the Lord. Discouragement is a loss of perspective. He will complete the good work in you.
" Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- Resist discouragement in the name of Jesus - We are in a spiritual battle, and there is a spirit of discouragement that we can resist in Jesus' name. Darkness is covering the earth, but there is power in the name of Jesus to resist the devil.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world (1 Peter 5;8-9).
I went through a personal season of discouragement after returning to the U.S. after living overseas on a missionary ship for many years. It was a drastic change from traveling from country to country and experiencing so much excitement in ministry. It was a hard time to say the least. My husband and I were going through an incredible time of counter-culture shock, and we didn't know how to adapt after living in so many countries overseas. Our home church told us to sit and rest, doing almost nothing. We were in the dark night of the soul which seemed to last for ages. I remember almost climbing the walls because it seemed so endless.
But God had his purposes in that time that I can see more clearly now. I had to give up the right to understand because it was so far higher and deeper than I was. It was certainly a time of obedience without any feelings of success or progress. I had to listen to God's Word and not my own negative feelings. I had to choose to be faithful in little ways and be thankful for little things. It was a huge trial which makes sense now. I couldn't do what I do today without that dark night of the soul. It was purposeful and brought me far deeper in my spiritual life. During that time I learned to be God's voice in prayer and my convictions deepened. God channeled me into a place that I didn't know existed.
Maybe you are going through discouragement today. Remember that God is with you and He is good. You are deeply valued by Him, and He has a purpose for your life. There is a battle through discouragement and offense designed to silence the prophetic voice at this time. God is raising up a Church to stand with boldness and speak the voice of the Lord. We must resist the devil's tool of discouragement in this battle for nations. He will not win and we are not alone. There are many who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal. We can’t expect peace in battle and warfare. We must position our heart in faithful obedience and encouragement in God. He is speaking in this hour and we must speak the truth with boldness.
God wants to use you as His voice and light in this dark world. Will you be His voice to your friends and neighbors? Will you be His voice at your job and in your city? May He break the spirit of discouragement over your life in the name of Jesus and give you great joy in His love. Do not fear or be discouraged. He is with you. Believe and trust God even if you don't understand everything - Walk in minute-by-minute obedience - Daily pray God's Word over your life and be faithful in the small things - Prayerfully give thanks and resist discouragement in Jesus' name. Put your hope in God. He will deliver you.
"'Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged’" (Deuteronomy 1:21).