In the devil's marketplace were found many tools. Tools such as deceit, lying, jealously, pride, hatred, envy, etc. were all up for sale at discount prices. However, in the corner of the room, there was another tool, separated from the rest. It was well-protected and encased in glass as a means of protection from the dust. Unlike the other tools, its price was high. This tool was discouragement. When asked why such a small tool was so highly priced, the devil answered, “It is the most terrific of them all. It can pry open a heart no matter how shielded. It gets inside a heart when I cannot. Adultery, idolatry, hatred, etc. have my labels placed upon them, and so people will know it's coming from me. But not so with discouragement. You see how badly worn it is? Because I use it on almost everyone, and few people know it belongs to me.”
Discouragement can suck the joy right out of life. It can warp our focus to where all we can see is the negative all around us. Worst of all, discouragement leads to the desire to give up on everything, including God. Discouragement argues, “Look, you've tried. You've done what's right. You've lived by God's standard. Now, what has it gotten you?” And sadly, we listen, and that is where our trouble begins.
To illustrate just how much discouragement can change our outlook, I want to share with you two quotes that I found. Read them carefully.
It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.
I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall be better I cannot tell. I actually forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better.
Isn't it amazing that two people could have such different views of life? You want to know what's even more amazing? The above quotations were both spoken by the same man in different times of his life. Yes, even Abraham Lincoln knew what it was like to face discouragement. While there is no true “cure” for discouragement, there are some things we can do to keep it at bay.
First of all, we need rest. Yes, I'm speaking of physical rest. It is an accepted fact that when our bodies are tired, we are more susceptible to mood changes and stress. However, as important as that is, it is also important to get our spiritual rest. Psalm 37:7 says, Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. To rest in the Lord means to lean on Him, to cast our cares upon Him. The word “rest” implies peace and comfort. These can be found by going to God and sharing with Him the source of our discouragement. Then, lean on His strength to see us through.
Second, we need to reflect. This takes some practice, but it's worth it. Reflecting means taking all of our negative thoughts and turning them into positive ones. Bad circumstance? Yes, but what good came from it? Sometimes, we have to look really hard, and when all else fails, reflect on Romans 8:28 that reminds us if good hasn't come out of it yet, it will!
Third, we need to resist the devil who will be shouting at us constantly. No, it's not an audible voice, but sometimes it feels like he's sitting right on our shoulders, filling our ears with complaints and negative thoughts. It's easy to listen to him without even realizing we're doing it. That's why we need to become more aware of his presence. If the thoughts we're having are negative and leading to discouragement, they're not of God. II Corinthians 10:5 speaks of bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. When we resist the devil, that's the first step in getting our thoughts straight. Once he's no longer shouting in our ears, it's easier to bring those thoughts to where they need to be.
***Excerpt from The Deadly Darts of the Devil by Dana Rongione***