Deuteronomy 1:21 See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 8:1 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.
Joshua 10:25 Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”
1 Chronicles 22:13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
1 Chronicles 28:20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
2 Chronicles 20:15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.
2 Chronicles 20:17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”
In the last meditation I used the metaphor of the path that leads to Christ and presented the idea that if our identity is found solely in him we will keep our eyes fixed on him and walk the path solely in his direction. We looked at what it meant to veer off the path to the left when we depend on ourselves, grab control of our life and, in our pride, try to go it alone. Our pride tells us that we can walk through life on our own. Jesus may be our end goal, but we can get there using our own navigation.
As I stated, the enemy wants us anywhere but solidly in center of the road to which God has called us. He is thoroughly happy if, in our pride, we veer off the path to our left. He is just as happy if, in our despair, we careen off the road to the right. In our pride we believe we can go it alone, and in our discouragement we don’t believe we can go it at all. Either way, the enemy is content.
As you read through the nine texts above I hope you got a feeling for the consistent call in Scripture for us not to be discouraged. The common denominator in these texts, and dozens more that I could’ve listed, is the refrain, “the Lord will be with you.” We can only affirm this wonderful truth if our eyes remain fixed on Jesus. As soon as we look away from him, the challenges and trials of this life can overwhelm us. Even worse, when we look to ourselves to solve our own problems we too often meet with the kind of failure that can cause us to despair.
In a very insidious way our discouragement is more of a sign of our lack of trust in God than our pride. The 2 Chronicles 20:15 passage declares, “the battle is not yours, but God’s.” Do we believe that? Do we believe that the one who leads us down the path of life is the one who has overcome? Do we believe that he has scouted the way, knowing that even the struggles and trials we will face on this path will end in victory because we follow the one who’s won the victory for us? The only way a child of God can know discouragement is by looking away from the face of the Son of God and let the cares and concerns of this world rob them of the peace only he can offer.
This is the enemy’s agenda – puffing us up in our pride or beating us down in discouragement. Whether we think more of ourselves or less of ourselves than we ought we become ineffective as laborers in the kingdom of God. There is a “sweet spot” to the Christian life that far too few of us find. It is that place of stability, balance, and confidence when we are in the center of the path upon which God has called us, our eyes fixed fully on him, and our stride steady and sure in his direction. We find that spot when we deny the enemy and audience to lie and deceive us into believing that we can either go it alone, or to discourage us from going at all.
Where are your feet today? Your eyes? Your heart? Your identity? There is a “sweet spot” waiting for you.
Think back to the last time you were really discouraged. You may not have to think far. Focus for a moment on the cause of your discouragement. Was it unknown to God? Was it greater than his ability to overcome it? Was it outside of the bounds of his love for you? You know the answer to all of these is a resounding “no!” So what was the cause of your discouragement? Try completing the sentence: “I was/am discouraged because I believe that______________________________________________ was/is too big a problem for God to handle.” Read it to yourself out loud, and if you don’t believe it’s true, then say so, out loud, at the top of your voice if you need to. “This is a lie, and I’m not going to believe it anymore!” Then picture yourself stepping back into the center of the road God created you to travel. Take your eyes off the source of your discouragement, and focus them fully on Jesus Christ. Open your heart to him and begin to walk confidently and boldly in his direction. See if soon and very soon, your heart is changed and your spirit renewed as you reclaim your full identity in Christ and Christ alone.
Gracious and patient God, I don’t know why I get so discouraged and allow the struggles of this world to become such the focus of my daily life. I know this is not of you. I know you stand and call and wait and hope that I will stop looking at my troubles and start looking again at you. Thank you for your patience. Help me Lord, through the power of your Holy Spirit, to renounce this spirit of discouragement and to start back on the path that leads to you. These are not small problems, Lord. Some of them seem so big they almost overwhelmed me. But I do not believe they’re too great for you. I claim the promise that you will lead me through these struggles to a greater victory. I place my trust in you. Please help me put my feet back on the right path. I’m ready to move ahead with boldness and confidence with you as my guide. In your holy and victorious name I pray. Amen.