Throughout my short short ministry of being a missionary I have already faced many times of discouragement. I have not even made it to the mission field yet and I am facing times of discouragement. There is coming a day very soon that I will face these same thoughts and feelings during language school or church-planting but I will not have friends, family, and fellow believers surrounding me. I will be all alone on the mission field and I must be able to gain courage or I will not survive the mission field. I was challenged to write this blog so that in days of trouble I will have the strength to endure and see the victory and successes on the other side. I hope that this is a blessing to you as it is to me as you will certainly face discouragement as you strive to do great things for God.
Starting of Discouragement?
Discouragement does not come from God. The very word means a sense of unhappiness arising from a loss of confidence in one’s own abilities, in the reliability of God or in the power of the gospel. Discouragement comes from the flesh that tells us God can not perform in or through us to accomplish what needs to be done. This happens when we face a trial or circumstance that is greater than we have ever faced before. Many times it is situations that we simply do not understand why God would allow this to happen in our lives. In 1 Samuel 30 we find David facing great discouragement. Now remember at this time he has already been anointed King of Israel, already defeated Goliath, and served as the armor bearer for Saul. He had seen God work in his life and even had great victories where God showed Himself strong in David’s life. However, in this chapter David has no nation, no family, and no friends. Both Israel and the Philistines (who David and lived with and served for years) had rejected David and his men. He was unwanted everywhere he went. As David and his men returned home from this rejection they found their homes burnt and their families gone. David’s two wives had been taken and his own men were ready to rise up and stone him. The Bible says at this time David was greatly distressed.
David, the future king of Israel and chosen by God, had nothing and noone. This is when the devil will come in and use our loss of faith to destroy us. Satan’s greatest desire is for us to lose faith and trust in God to take care of us. He will wait till we are all alone and defeated to come and begin whispering in our ear, “Why is this happening?”. If David would have quit in that moment then He would have never been king of Israel, lost his wives, and missed out on the blessing that God had in store.
Attitudes during Discouragement
In this passage we see a group of men that all faced the same horror. After 3 days of marching and ready to take comfort in their homes and the arms of their wives; they come over the hill where they can see their camp and all they see is a dark smoky scene of destruction. Can you imagine how it felt as their heart dropped suddenly and hardened warriors became weak and broken. I will never forget the day in summer of 2013 my wife and I went to the doctor to find out the gender of our baby at 18 weeks. Before a word was spoken we could see on the face of the nurse that something was wrong. She could not even finish saying “I am sorry” before my wife and I’s heart sunk and we became broken. We went expecting to hear boy or girl and instead found no heartbeat. This is the scene of 1 Samuel 30 as 600 men weep and sob over the loss of everything.
In the midst of this defeat we see two attitudes. The first is of the men. They allowed this discouragement to have victory and they gave up. They let anger into their heart and were ready to quit. They were ready to stone their leader, David. Many times this is our reaction in times of uncertainty. We allow discouragement to reign in our life and we quit. I have heard so many stories of missionaries that started deputation and quit when it got hard, or men that landed and the field and quit during language school. We can never quit during times of discouragement but must follow the example of David.
David did the opposite of his men. Yes he was just as sad and broken as these men. The text reminds us that he lost his two wives, however, David was not ready to quit. He was distressed but not defeated. Instead of allowing anger and pity take control the Bible says that he “encouraged himself in the Lord his God”. David found this courage in God. This is one of the greatest phrases in the word of God. David knew he had a relationship with a God in heaven that cared about him. He said this is my God that wants the best for me in all things. We must be encouraged that God is on our side. He is not out to get us or do us harm but the opposite.
Romans 8:28-31 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us
All things work together for good for God’s people. We can not be defeated but instead we are more than conquerors as the devil tries to destroy us. God is trying to build us and make us, not destroy us. He has a great plan in our lives to bring us to glorification for eternity. If He is for us than the Apostle Paul asks us “who can be against us?”.
David knew this to be true and went and spent time with God to encourage himself. It was at a time similar to this if not this time that David wrote Psalms 25. David tells God that he trusts in him in vs.2. He is surrounded by his enemies, he is desolate and afflicted, but his eyes are on God. Twice he asks that he will not be ashamed and twice he says he will WAIT on the Lord. The attitude that David had that we must have in order to get victory over discouragement is to wait on the Lord to bring victory. We can trust that the Lord has a purpose to do good in our lives.
Victory over Discouragement
David after waiting and trusting in God came out ready to fight the battle. What we have to remember during discouragement is that we do not have time for a pity-party and we definitely can never quit. We have to stay busy serving God and moving forward. David walked out of his tent with HIS God and rallied the troops to go to war. I am not sure what he did or what he said to take mourning men that wanted to stone him and prepare them for battle. I do know that David knew that God was going to win the battle for them. David walked out confident and ready to trust God.
David then lead 400 men to defeat a huge army. This army was so big that when 400 enemy men escaped the defeat the Bible says that no man escaped. if 400 is not one of them, how many did David’s small army defeat that day without a single casualty reported. God can bring a victory if we move forward and stay busy. We cannot sit and sulk or quit on God. We must rally the troops and move into battle against Satan.
- Courage is waiting on God rather than taking matters into our own hands
- Courage is trusting that God is at work when we are not sure what he is doing
- Courage is needed most in the hardest situations
- Courage is not pretending that life is not hard and ignoring the problems and mess but taking rest in our Lord and Savior and then taking actions of trust in Him
- Courage is moving forward when everyone else falls back in anger and pity
If you are facing discouragement as I have and am remember that you are in good company. Many of the greatest characters in God’s Word faced these same feelings of doubt and discouragement but they knew something about their God that we must get a hold of. God is at work in our lives and desires what is best for us and will work all things together for good. Get alone with God and come our victorious as you move forward and trust Him.