Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Week Twelve - Discouraged


 “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”  Isaiah 42:4

He – God – will not be discouraged.  The definition does not mean down hearted or feeling sad, as we would define discouraged. It means He will not be broken, dashed in pieces, crushed or oppressed.  God has a plan, and he will not fail.  His plan will be completed.  Nothing is going to sidetrack Him.  He has considered and prepared for every contingency.

Bible history reveals bleak times.  Lucifer led a coup and was cast from Heaven, Adam and Eve chose to disobey, Israel was fickle and wandering, the Messiah was crucified, but God is not surprised, oppressed or crushed by the actions of man, He is prepared and thorough in His planning.  Because He is sovereign and all-knowing He has the ability to see how things we would consider bleak can be turned for His glory and His use.  God, we can say, it determined!

We, on the other hand, can be broken, dashed in pieces, crushed and oppressed when our plans fail.  And therein lays the heart of the matter – our plans.  We set ourselves on paths that God has not designed and then wonder why things don’t work out.  When our plans fail we sometimes blame God and forget that He is the one ultimately in control.  We do not want to yield.

How much better for us to place our trust and our plans into the hands of a God who will not fail nor be discouraged?  He knows our days and our end.  He fills them with His love and attention.  He has a specific plan for our lives and he waters every moment to set us onto that path.  He will not fail us, and he will not be discouraged with us though we often fail him.

Can you see how set God is on working in your life?  Can you see that he is determined to complete his plan for your life?  Do you know Philippians 1:6?  “He that began a good work in you WILL perform it…”  He has a vested interest in you and cares too much to leave you to your own devices.  Just as He took time to plan the ages, He has taken time to plan for you.



“…and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.”  Numbers 21:4 

Dragging yourself, your family and all your belongings across a desert can’t be very encouraging.  Facing marauders, being taken prisoner and seeing those around you dying makes for a sad state of affairs.  The children of Israel are in these forty years of wandering and it has been taking its toll.  But that is exactly the point.  This was not supposed to be a picnic; it was punishment for disbelief and disobedience.

God had been clear about this.  They were to wander in the wilderness for forty years until their “carcases be wasted in the wilderness”. (Numbers 14:39)  When they heard this judgment pronounced the Bible says they mourned greatly.  They did not repent; they mourned – they were sad about the judgment, but not repenting of the sin. And such was their character throughout the wandering.

When the Bible says that they were discouraged because of the way, it does not mean they were cast down and sad.  It means that they were impatient, angry, troubled and vexed. Their attitude remained one of defiance and self-will.  They did not humble themselves before God, but stiffly set their faces and carried an attitude of resentment toward their plight.  Sadly, they seem to have passed that on to the next generation, for we read of the same attitude over and over through the books of Joshua and Judges.

The way of life can get hard.  However, our attitude toward it determines greatly the outcome.  If we live impatient, angry, troubled and vexed because of the path, we will never truly see beauty of life.  If we mourn at our situation instead of repenting, we are bound for a life under the chastening hand of God.

Proverbs 13:15 says, “…the way of the transgressor is hard.”  I think we would all agree.  However, we do not have to live the life of a transgressor.  We can repent and make the changes necessary to move us into the love of God and into His blessing.  The choice is ours.

Is life hard?  Have you taken time to look at your attitude?  Are you mourning instead of repenting?  Are you vexed with God?  If you are his child, he will correct you.  Better to yield than to live discouraged and angry.




“And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land…”  Numbers 32:7

“For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the Lord had given them.”  Numbers 32:9

Let’s look at another way the children of Israel were discouraged.  They have come through the years in the wilderness and are ready to go forward into the Promised Land. Now the story is about the children of Gad and Rueben wanting to possess land on the east side of the Jordan.  They have put their petition to Moses.  He uses the word “discourage” twice in his reply. 

First, he says that their request will discourage the heart of the others.  He means that it will break their hearts to see these two units stay behind. 

Then, in verse nine he is referring to the initial event that caused them to wind up in the wilderness. The definition of discouraged now means, to thwart, forbid, or to hinder. The report of the spies was the thing that caused the children to fear and the thing that hindered them from going forward by faith. 

Sounds to me like these people were living on emotion instead of faith.  II Thessalonians 2:2 admonishes us, “…be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter…”  If we react to every ill wind or discouraging word, we will never go forward.  We will be continually in the wilderness hindered and thwarted.  There are always those who enjoy focusing on the negative.  They should not be our guides. Instead of taking negative reports to heart, we are best to hold them up to the light of His Word, take any warning or caution, and then make a positive choice to continue following the Lord by faith. 

Are you living your life by negative emotion?  Do you fall at every hurdle?  Do you live hindered and thwarted? Better to live by faith than emotion.



“Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 1:21

Finally, a definition we would expect.  God is telling the children of Israel to go forward, do not face the future terrified.  Do not let the prospect of possessing the land discourage you.  This is the same word used as “dismayed” in Joshua 1:9.  It means to be shattered, terrified or broken down.  God had a plan for them.  It might have seemed a large task, but, as we read in Joshua 1:9, God was going to go with them.

It can be challenging to face life changes.  The fear of the unknown can grip the heart and weaken the resolve.  The hardness and frustration faced in making such changes can break us down and shatter our dreams.  God knows this.  He also knows how facing hardship has a place in our lives. 

Henry Blackaby wrote: “He (God) will take whatever time is necessary to grow your character to match His assignment for you…small character will fail in a large responsibility every time.”  Then he wrote, “King Saul was made king without ever enduring hardships, but he never developed the character or maturity to handle God’s assignment.  David spent years in suffering and heartache.  When he finally ascended the throne, he was a man after God’s own heart.”

If we allow discouragement to thwart God’s working in our lives, we will never see the Promised Land. If we see hardships as negative, we will become discouraged, terrified and broken down in the process of sanctification and preparation for service.  The only way to avoid discouragement is to keep our eyes firmly fixed and our hearts set toward on our Saviour, who is right there with us in the midst of whatever challenge we are facing.

Are you hearing the Lord asking you to go up and possess something?  Is he moving you into greater responsibility or greater challenges?  You can be sure that He is with you.  He will never leave your side.  Look for His moving and then follow with your head held high and your eyes firmly fixed on the leader!  Leave discouragement behind.



“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”  Colossians 3:21

To me, this is such a sad verse. To think of a parent who would knowingly push their child to anger and discourage them in their lives is disheartening.  This definition of discouraged holds for us yet another meaning: to lose heart.  But not simply that, it is with the “state of intense displeasure based in a real or perceived wrong.”  Did you get that?  The child loses heart based on either something done to them, or something they have understood incorrectly.

A child loses heart when they start to believe they cannot please their parents.  A child loses heart when there are no clear boundaries of right and wrong.  A child loses heart when they experience unreasonable or abusive punishment – physically, mentally, or verbally. A child loses heart when no one takes time to help them understand life.  The list could go on, but it shows that discouragement is initially a by-product of an outside action.

The action is: being provoked to anger.  So, we best define these two words before we draw a final conclusion.  To provoke is to exasperate, vex, cause to fret or harass.  The word “anger”, according to Perkins, “… signifies not just “be angry”, but to be provoked to such a degree that an angry response ensues. The emphasis is as much on the sinful provocation as it is on the actual anger...” (Perkins)  So, we can see that the response of the child is based in the behavior of the parent whose treatment would be considered vexing the child until they strike back in anger outwardly, or, seethe with anger inwardly. 

Barnes describes it like this: “Lest, by your continually finding fault with them, they should lose all courage, and despair of ever pleasing you…He who always finds fault with a child; who is never satisfied with what he does; who scolds and frets and complains, let him do as he will, breaks his spirit, and soon destroys in the delicate texture of his soul all desire of doing well. The child in despair soon gives over every effort to please. He becomes sullen, morose, stupid, and indifferent to all the motives that can be presented to him, and becomes to a great extent indifferent as to what he does - since all that he does meets with the same reception from the parent.” 

So the emphasis is on the parent.  Do you encourage or discourage your child?  Do they have a sense that you are pleased with them?  Are you just and measured in your discipline?  Are you beating them down by your words and responses or lifting them up? God will hold you accountable.

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