Title: Do Not Be Discouraged
Date: April 19, 2022
The book of Joshua has been a source of strength and power for generations. The first chapter jumps right into skillfully teaching and warning us against discouragement, and that chapter is strikingly titled, “The Lord Commands Joshua.”
“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night so you may be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God tells us in His word over and over to be strong and courageous. This is the very opposite of discouragement. There are over thirty Bible passages that tell us to not be discouraged. How important it is then to be obedient in this area!
If we have complete assurance and trust in God then there our courage lies. This is definitely an area I have struggled with in my life. As much as it hurts to admit, God knows that my fears at times are stronger than my faith. I have come to recognize that fear and discouragement is overestimating my trials and challenges and sadly underestimating God! Can you relate?
God’s Word says nothing good about discouragement or despair. We do not tend to look at it as sin, do we? The Bible makes it clear that it is simply a wrong choice, just as lying or stealing is a wrong choice. That really puts being “discouraged” in a whole new light! Of course, life brings difficult situations, but God’s word continually points us toward refusing to remain there! I realize now there is a big difference between sadness and discouragement. Sadness is a natural emotion, however discouragement deprives oneself of courage or confidence. Sadness and discouragement are two different things and I never thought of them as such until I started really studying this topic!
Our loving Father chose to repeatedly remind us to be aware of discouragement because He knows how harmful it is to our spirit. His word teaches us it is a choice, much like getting dressed every day. We have the capability to “put on” encouragement every morning! On the other hand, discouragement is a plague straight from Satan. Our world is full of it and it sadly shows! When we fall into its trap it not only affects our spirit, but it entangles those around us as well.
Isaiah 43:12 says, I have called you by your name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and the rivers will not overwhelm you.
Wow, what a perfect verse to show us that even when life gets hard, even when things do not go our way, instead of wondering: why me? Why is this happening? Notice Isaiah says “WHEN” we pass through the waters, not “IF” we pass through them! We all have our share of trials. However, when we choose to magnify God over our trials that’s when we are encouraged! That’s when strength is ushered in and discouragement cannot rule over us!
I have a dear cousin who months ago, along with his wife, accepted Jesus into their hearts. My cousin was married to his beautiful wife for almost 50 years, but she recently passed away. My cousin is the perfect example of the difference between sadness and discouragement. His heart is grieved tremendously and filled with sadness over the loss of the love of his life. However, he has chosen to wake up every day encouraged. He has even started attending church with me every Sunday and he greets me with the biggest smile! It has been the sweetest blessing.
The other morning, right before the service was about to begin, God did something while we were sitting there waiting. As we were speaking together, it suddenly dawned on me that I had never shared the experience I had with his mom many years ago. It was just a few days before her passing and I went to his home to see her. No one was there except for my aunt’s nurse. I asked the caretaker if she minded if I prayed out loud. I began laying my hands on my aunt’s frail body. As I began to pray and speak words of life over her, to my surprise she slowly lifted her weak and tired arms straight up to heaven, despite her mind being nearly gone. In that moment the presence of the Holy Spirit was so thick that it even caused the nurse whom I had never met before to literally fall into my arms weeping!
As I shared this story about his mom, my cousin’s eyes filled with tears. I thought he was moved about what I had just shared about his sweet mom, however as soon as he was able to muster up his words he said, “Just before my wife passed away, she did the same exact thing!” Her frail and weak arms were outstretched towards heaven.
What a beautiful gift he was given! Both the women in his life departed this earth giving my grieving cousin the encouragement and confidence he needed, knowing he would one day join them in the presence of their God! Both mom and wife departed this earth in holy worship to their Father who was awaiting them to give them a new life without pain and sorrow, as an anxious Father standing at the door ready to greet his precious daughters!
The Lord is so sweet to us! He gives us so many reasons to find encouragement. He wants us to hold on, to choose faith over fear. He seeks to uphold us and strengthen us. If the Lord commanded Joshua to be not afraid, the Lord commands the very same of us. “Command” may seem like a harsh word, but in reality, it comes from the pure love the Father has for His children so that we can live our best life! Oh Lord may we continue to stay encouraged so that we can also encourage the world around us!
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he pulled me out of deep water.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I will leave you with the lyrics to the famous hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.” Its words are truly fitting and beautiful:
How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord, is laid out for your faith and His excellent word.
What more can He say that to you He hath said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.
Fear not I am with thee, O be not dismayed for I am thy God, and will give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call you to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow.
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
E’en down to old age all my people shall prove my sovereign eternal unchangeable love.
And then when grey hairs shall their temples adorn, like lambs they shall still in my bosom be born.
The soul that in Jesus hath learned for repose I will not, I will not, desert to his foes.
The soul though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
Delighting in safe pasture,