Mark 4:19, “And the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful”
One day, according to an old fable, the devil decided to sell some of his well-worn tools. On display were some treacherous instruments, including hatred, jealousy, lying, and pride. However, set apart from the rest was a harmless-looking device with a very high price tag. “What’s this?” someone asked. “That’s discouragement,” Satan replied. “It’s one of my most effective tools. With it I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that tool when I can’t get near him with any other. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me.” That tool certainly worked in Elijah’s case. He had just slain the wicked prophets of Baal. When he prayed earnestly for rain, God sent it, ending a three and one-half year drought. The prophet then ran more than ten miles to Jezreel and went two days without food. These victories left Elijah physically and emotionally drained, and he was therefore vulnerable to discouragement. So when Jezebel threatened his life, Elijah quickly slipped into a state of fear and depression. As God took steps to restore Elijah’s failed strength, He will also do the same for you. Now let’s change our focus from Elijah to you. The valleys of life undoubtedly are lined with discouragement, which falls under the category of “the cares of this world” (Mark 4:19) that God warns believers to stay free from as much as possible. Thus, discouragement is one of life’s most difficult challenges, and we must constantly work at not letting discouragement get a foothold in our lives. Why you may ask? Well because living in discouragement will divide the mind, making it hard to focus on anything besides your pain. Then as anger becomes habitual, we’ll look for someone to blame, whether God, people around us, or yourself.
Discouragement can become a deadly spiritual virus to the born again believer, if not attacked aggressively. The difference in the outcome is determined by the way we decide to handle it. At some point in your life, you have or will, experience dashed hopes and disappointment, which hovers over us like a dark and dense cloud. Though we’ll all face disappointment from time to time; however, as believers in Christ we’re not to wallow in it. Instead, God wants us to trust Him with everything—even our unmet expectations and deepest sorrow. If you ignore the Lord and doubt what he says “He has promised” you will most certainly be depressed; especially if you continue carrying unnecessary burdens of guilt, fear, loneliness, anxiety, and turmoil in your life, because you refused to rest on the Lord’s great and precious promises recorded in His Word. My friend and brethren, we are told in God’s Word of His promises to us as His precious children, such as those listed here:
(1)”Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you: (1 Peter 5:7)
(2) “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).
(3) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
(4) “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry…. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:15 and 17).
(5) “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22)
(6) “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).
While deciding how to end this devotional my thoughts were of the prophet Jeremiah. If anyone had a good reason for being discouraged, it was him. For 40 years, he declared God’s judgment on the rebellious and unrepentant nation of Judah. Jeremiah suffered because of their disobedience, but he clung to his faith in God’s goodness. Even after witnessing the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of his people, Jeremiah wrote, “The LORD will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD” (Lamentations 3:31-32, 40). Thus, disobedience to God can cause great pain, but the doorway out of discouragement leads to the Lord, who “is good to those who wait for Him” (Lamentations 3:15). My brethren, if you are feeling discouraged today, don’t give in. Instead, seek God in prayer, claim His precious promises, share your needs with those who can give you Godly counsel and if others are discouraged, be ready to pray for them and encourage them with the love of Jesus Christ and His promises. We can learn from Elijah’s and Jeremiah’s experience, so don’t let the devil defeat you through discouragement that can and will lead to depression.
Turn not aside, discouraged one,
Stir up your gift, pursue your goal;
In God’s own time you’ll see Him work,
He’ll give you hope and lift your soul – D. De Haan
The devil can’t keep you down if you let the Lord lift you up!