The devil according to legend, once advertised his tools for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers assembled, there was one oddly shaped tool which was labeled “Not for sale.” Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, “I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I have. It is called Discouragement, and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a man’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire.”
My intention here over these next few articles is to identify and provide the antidote for a few of the devil’s favorite tools used to trip up God’s people. This list is not in any way intended to be all inclusive.
No one is immune to the problem of discouragement! Webster defines it as: “to deprive of courage or confidence: dishearten.” The scriptures address this issue in several contexts: symptoms or causes, examples of; the prevention and cure for. Two examples that came to mind immediately were the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19, and then the Lord with His disciples in Mark 6.
Should you find yourself dealing with discouragement, take note of its severity and immediately begin to administer “first aid.” Minor disappointments are usually nothing in itself, but can have a cumulative effect. Today I will share three simple steps which can be applied as needed and to varying degrees.
First, shun discouragement! This is true especially when dealing with severe cases of discouragement. Additional stresses, disappointments, impossible situations, illnesses & exhaustion can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – so to speak. Elijah came face to face with this reality immediately following one of the greatest confrontations with idolatry in Israel’s history in 1 Kings 18-19. The Lord took him aside immediately for much needed: separation from stresses; rest & recuperation; revitalization; and encouragement.
Second, seek encouragement! This can be found in a number of places: first in God Himself. He tells us in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5)…and His promises are absolute! He also told us that He would send the “Comforter” (Jn. 16) to provide us with the encouragement we would need on life’s journey. We can also find encouragement from some of God’s people.
Third, share encouragement! This is done through mutual associations (Heb. 10:25), verbal communication (1 Kings 19:12; 1 Thess. 5:14; Is. 41:8-10), and tangible demonstrations (2 Tim. 1:16-18; Phil. 2:25) – the One Another’s of Scripture (another lesson for another time).
As I said, no one can avoid the discouragements and disappointments of life, but we can survive them…and even learn from them. Keep in mind a couple of things, first – there will always be a means to survive (1 Cor. 10:13). The Lord has promised to provide what we need for endurance through all the challenges of life! Second – those praising, seeking, and serving the Lord, won’t have time for criticizing, bickering, or tearing one another down! Don’t give the devil the opportunity to use you (Eph. 4:27)!!!
Pastor Jim Howard
Pastor, First Baptist Church