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  • Rick LoPresti

The danger of discouragement

God made man in His image (Gen 1:27). One aspect of man is emotion. Emotion is a powerful influence on thought and behavior. Emotions are not evil in themselves, but when they are not guided by the principles of the word of God, they can lead us into evil. We need to examine ourselves to see if we are controlling our emotions or if they are controlling us.

One emotion that everyone experiences at times is discouragement. It is unrealistic to expect to never feel discouraged. Even the greatest people of faith in the Bible through it. So the question is really how we are going to respond to it. Let us look at some examples in the Bible. Abraham was 75 years old when God called him (Gen 12). His wife Sarah who was 65 was barren, but God promised him a nation of descendants. 10 years went by and he still had no children. He and his wife decided to exercise a custom of their day and for Abraham to have a child by Sarah's handmaid (Gen 16). God told the mother that the child's descendants would be against everyone around him. That child was Ishmael and his descendants are the Arabs who have been at odds with Israel ever since. Then when Abraham was 100 years old and his wife was 90, God gave them the promised son. Abraham got discouraged and decided to "help God out".

David was a mighty instrument in the hands of God to give Israel victory over their arch-enemy of his day - the Philistines. King Saul was jealous of David and loved his position more than God (1Sam 17-30). He attempted to kill David at least 20 times. David had 2 chances to kill Saul, but he refused to avenge himself. He left that in the hands of God. After his second chance, Saul promised to stop pursuing him. However, David got so discouraged he decided the only way to save himself was to go live with the Philistines. He was even going to go to war with the Philistines against Israel. The Philistines refused to let him join them in the battle, and when he returned to the city he was staying in, he and his men found it had been invaded and their families and possessions had been taken. David and his men wept until they they could no more. David's men considered killing him. David encouraged himself in the Lord and prayed. He led his men to victory over the invaders, and they recovered all.

Elijah was a man of great faith who miraculously led Israel out of idolatry and back to God (1Ki 17-19). After his great victory, he became discouraged and fled for his life. God visited him and restored his faith. James reminds us that Elijah was a man with the same human struggles we all have, but he prayed and that made all the difference (Jam 5:17-18).

Discouragement can make us do things that we will regret, and are out of character. However, we can pray and draw strength from the word of God. Instead of letting discouragement dictate our perception and behavior, we can overcome it through the power of God and have a better outcome than we thought was possible (Eph 3:20).

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