by John Coblentz

taken from the October 1997 newsletter of
Deeper Life Ministries

Every human being faces difficulty. Some people seem to be able to accept difficulty as a challenge, and other people feel overwhelmed. When we become discouraged, we are apt to respond unwisely to situations and people. We withdraw. We complain. We blame. We draw negative conclusions. We quit.... Or we go on with the above feelings churning inside us.

In the Bible we read of people who became discouraged. Let's look at several examples and see what their discouragement actually came from:

  1. Rachel could not have children. One day, she burst out to her husband, "Give me children, or else I die!" Rachel's discouragement came from resenting a situation she had no power to change.

  2. When the Israelites heard that the Canaanites were giants and lived in fortified cities, they "lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night" (Numbers 14:1). Their discouragement came from comparing a difficult situation to their resources instead of God's resources.

  3. When the Israelites traveled in the wilderness, the Bible says, "The soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way" (Numbers 21:4). In this case, they were discouraged because they were focusing so much on their difficulties that they lost sight of God's promises and provisions.

  4. David was about to be stoned by his own men when they were distressed about the loss of their wives and possessions. David's low point came through experiencing rejection and misunderstanding from those he loved. We have the good news that he didn't yield to discouragement, but rather "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (1 Samuel 30:6).

  5. Elijah came to the point of wishing to die. Two things contributed to Elijah's discouragement. First he was physically and emotionally exhausted. Second, and perhaps more significant, he seems to have pressed on in God's work without a clear sense of direction from God. The Bible records that Elijah ran for his life into the wilderness, but there is no indication that this was God's leading. How many times have people "burned out" in our day by running on empty?

  6. Job said, "My soul is weary of my life." And shortly after we hear him asking God, "Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands?" (Job 10:1,3). In light of Job's stupendous trials, we scarcely blame him for feeling down, and yet we see in his discouragement the reasoning that God is not fair in allowing the bitter experiences I am facing.

  7. At one point, Nehemiah was so sad that King Artaxerxes questioned him closely. Nehemiah was down because he saw the work of God going backward. The rebuilding of Jerusalem was very dear to Nehemiah, and he told the king that it "lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire" (Nehemiah 2:3). How many people today feel down because projects they have given their lives to, turn to nothing?
Out of these seven Biblical examples, we can draw some conclusions for avoiding discouragement. We need to:
  1. Distinguish between changeables and non-changeables in our lives. Non-changeables are conditions in our lives that God is allowing for His purposes.

  2. Keep our eyes focused on God's power and resources.

  3. Review God's promises and recall ways He provided for us in times past.

  4. Rejoice in who God is--review His attributes.

  5. Wait on the Lord's time. Major decisions should not be based on discouragement, doubt, or fear.

  6. Trust that God is right and good, no matter what the situation seems to us.

  7. Realize that what seems like a set-back to us may be God's way of showing us greater plans.

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