|E STRONG AND of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV|
Do you want to hear something funny? I started writing this article, "Dealing with Discouragement", several months ago and every time I began working on it, I would get discouraged and want to quit. Oh the irony. Well, I thought it was funny but now I wonder if it was spiritual warfare.
Discouragement comes in many forms; through trials, tribulations, burn-out, loss, grief, depression, weariness, illness, stress, finances, spiritual warfare, negative thoughts...the list can go on and on. With that said it also means it is universal and being universal you are not alone in your discouragement and you are not abnormal.
I have said this many times and I will say it again, "Trials and tribulations are part of life and life does happen." In fact Jesus himself said, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." - John 16:33 NKJV
I love that God's Word still applies to us today and because He has overcome the world we are more than conquerors through Him by faith. We can also find God's comfort and His solutions through the scriptures, if we would take the time to look. In this article we are going to take a deeper look at what discouragement is and find the biblical solution for this common but difficult situation.
The definition for discourage (dis + courage) means to deprive of courage or confidence. To be disheartened; which also means to lose spirit or morale. What's interesting is the word "deprived". Deprive means the lack of what is needed. So discouragement is the "lack of", "in need of" or "loss of" courage, spirit, morale and/or confidence.
In light of these definitions it gives us a whole new perspective to the word discouragement from a description of how a person is feeling to an explanation of what a person is missing, has lost, or in need of. Yes, one does experience the feelings and emotions of being discouraged but when we can understand what a person is missing or in need of, then finding the biblical solution becomes more attainable. It may not change us over night but it can certainly change our point of view from feeling hopeless to hopeful and that is encouraging.
So how does one make the transition from feeling discouraged to having courage? Also, is courage the answer or solution to discouragement?
Let's take a look at one biblical example in Deuteronomy chapter 31 to help answer these questions. In this chapter Moses is speaking to the people of Israel and tells them that He can not cross over the Jordan with them and then hands over His leadership authority to his assistant Joshua as the Lord had said for Joshua to cross over before them. Now Moses understood that the people would be disheartened by this announcement so he then shares these words of encouragement. "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV
It is understandable that Joshua might have felt discouraged and perhaps fearful at the learning of this news but Moses was confident and wanted Joshua to be confident but not in himself nor in Moses but his confidence was to be in the Lord. Notice again in verse 6 of Deuteronomy 31, "for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you." Moses was re-assuring him that God, Who is greater than himself was with him. The Lord God was going with them and if God was with them they had nothing to fear. It's unfortunate that we as people naturally look to men for our strength or guidance rather than God. God was going with them and because He was with them who could be against them?
We also learn in the book of Joshua how God Himself spoke these same words of encouragement in order to build Joshua's confidence in Him. Moses had just died and God knew exactly what he needed to hear in order to lead the people by faith into the promise land as God had promised.
"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:5-9 NKJV
So how did God and Moses build up Joshua? Simply put, they encouraged him. The definition for encourage is "to inspire with courage, spirit or hope". The word, "inspire" means to influence, move or guide by the divine or supernatural. Encouragement divinely inspires us to have courage and that courage comes from knowing God is with us and goes before us.
"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10-NKJV
Often times we need to be reminded of these precious promises and when we look at God's Word we are comforted to know that He is with us wherever we go. God now speaks to us through His Word that is living and active and speaks to the soul and the spirit and as it says in Joshua 1:8 that if we meditate on it day and night then we will be prosperous and successful.
Finally, the definition for "courage" is a mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. Notice that courage is not only a moral strength but a mental strength which involves our thought life. The bible says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." - Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
Joshua was first encouraged by Moses and then God Himself to be strong and courageous. Is there a situation in your life right now where you may be feeling discouraged or inadequate?
Do not be afraid and be of good courage, just as Moses turned Joshua's thoughts toward God by reminding him that God was with Him; those same thoughts ring true in our lives. Understanding that God is with us and for us, enables us to persevere through and to withstand danger, fear or difficulty with great courage because we know that it is God who defends us and goes before us and no matter how difficult a situation may seem. nothing is too hard for Him. God is faithful; He loves us and cares for us deeply.
I hope you are greatly encouraged as I am to be strong and courageous not in our own strength but in the power of His might who dwells in our hearts by faith and is with us wherever we go. May God bless you richly through His Son, Jesus Christ. Remember, If God is for us who can be against us?
Filoiann Wiedenhoff is a Pastor’s Wife, Work at Home Mom, Woman’s Biblical Counselor, Bible Teacher and Writer. You can subscribe to her monthly newsletter and visit her website.
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