DISCOURAGEMENT — Chap. 2 From Guidelines For Giving and Receiving Prophecy: Both Personal and General Words of Prophecy.
There comes a time when one can lose heart and gets discouraged from waiting for the fulfillment of those things that have been promised from the LORD.
We have only to look to the prophet Elijah as he ran for the comfort of a cave, after calling down fire with the prophets of Baal and fleeing to Mount Horeb.
“Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:9-10.
It’s pretty amazing that a prophet such as Elijah who had faced 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah at Mount Carmel.
He had called down fire from heaven and it had consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
All the people saw what had been done, and fell upon their faces declaring that Elijah’s God was God. But Elijah fled in fear as Ahab had told Jezebel what had been done, and Elijah feared for his life.
Many of us are very close to calling down fire like Elijah did. If we would take courage and believe in the name of the LORD, the prophets of Baal would see the hand of God fall as it did at Mount Carmel.
And yet we wait and wait, wondering when those things spoken over our lives will happen. We look in fear at the Jezebels around us and cringe because we think that her spirit is stronger than our God.
Instead of running to our own caves in discouragement, we need to wait it out. People oftentimes get discouraged when their dreams haven’t come true or they have set the bar so high that it cannot be attained.
Sometimes we depend upon people to fulfill those dreams and expectations, and as we know, people will fail us, but God never does.
People sometimes run to help fill the void of discouragement with some things that are very unhealthy. Some turn to drugs or alcohol, thinking that this will ease the pain and give them some relief. This only can cause the depth of discouragement to become even more severe.
In Ezra 4:4, we read, “Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building.”
The work on rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem stopped for about 16 years. According to Haggai 1:4-9, the people’s focus shifted to building their own houses, and they neglected building God’s house. If the subject came up, they responded, “We tried that. It didn’t work!”
God sent two different prophets to help turn their discouragement around:
“Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo prophesied concerning the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel who was over them,” Ezra 5:1.
With the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the rebuilding of the temple began again, and was finished in a little more than four years.
When we take our attention off of a problem or situation, and place it upon God, then our discouragement can be taken away.
Also, when we spend time with others who are discouraged because of a hardship, then usually our attention is taken off of ourselves unto the other person.
The enemy of our souls, Satan, uses discouragement as a subtle tool again us. He doesn’t wave a red flag in front of us, to let us know what he is doing, but he comes in subtlety.
He would begin with planting seeds of doubt, and then this gives rise to discouragement.
There is a great example in the book of Numbers, as Israel spoke against God and Moses:
“And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners.
And Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.
And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.
And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: [now notice]and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died,” Numbers 21:1-6.
Oftentimes, discouragement comes after a time of victory. For at this time, the people were about to enter into this new land, but the Canaanites were there.
The Israelites were about to be overcome, and they prayed. They said, “If you will give us victory over these Canaanites, we will do thus-and-so.” And God gave them victory. They won the battle.
And yet the very next thing we read is that the Israelites had become discouraged:
“And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way,” Numbers 21:4.
We all face various trials in this life, particularly as we live our lives out according to God’s purposes.
I believe that this is also true as one waits upon the LORD concerning the words and directions that are for them.
We see this outlined in here:
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy,” 1 Peter 4:12-13.
The enemy would want us to think that these fiery trials are strange and unusual, but actually they are made for us by God.
He uses these times to create in us His character and to make us like fine gold that has been tried in the furnace.
And so we may think that these types of trials come from Satan and not from God, and then we lose heart.
When actually, we may well be in the heart of what God is doing in our situation. We need to trust in the process and let it run its course.
We can also become discouraged because of fear. Here again is something that is related to the nation of Israel, as an example that we might learn from them:
“And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:
And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.
Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: and ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,” Deuteronomy 1:22-32.
The word of the LORD says that, “They that trust in the LORD shall be safe.”
“But the fear of man produces a snare.”
And as fear and doubt creeps in, then the enemy can say, “See, those words spoken over you haven’t happened yet and it’s been a long time. “
The enemy also uses frustration to cause us to become discouraged.
“The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch: Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.
Thus shalt thou say unto him, The LORD saith thus; ‘Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land.
‘And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh,’ saith the LORD: ‘but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest,'” Jeremiah 45:1-5.
As time goes on and one is waiting for the promises of God to unfold, discouragement can turn into criticism.
For one can become critical of God and wonder at His plans for you. Why hasn’t this all unfolded for me yet?
Is your plan for me really correct? You may be critical of God and of His servants, for surely, those words spoken through this person were wrong. He must have been thinking of someone else rather than me.
This is a very dangerous way to think and it can spread into all other areas of one’s life if a person is not careful.
For this is the result of seeing things from one’s own point of view rather than God’s. As we need to be reminded yet again, God has His own time table.
When the twelve tribes of Israel were to go into the land of promise, ten of the tribes came back and spoke of the giants that were in the land before them.
And their discouragement was expressed to the entire nation of Israel.
“Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle; the children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying, Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon, even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle: wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.
And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?
And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?
Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land.
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.
And the LORD’s anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,
Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me,” Numbers 32:1-11.
In this case as said above, many were given the seeds of discouragement because of the attitude of some. Perhaps it would have been better if they had kept their discouragement to themselves.
The devil wants to destroy our relationship with God by way of discouragement. His primary goal is to throw a wrench in our relationship with Him.
We are told that “anything apart from faith is sin.” We need to realize that discouragement itself is sin.
And then when realizing this, we can give our discouragement to God and we will gain victory over it.
But we must realize again not depend upon people for encouragement, for they will always fail us, but not God.
David had learned to encourage himself in the LORD. He faced many battles and many enemies. But every time he turned his attention back to God, he was given back hope and encouragement.
Don’t give up on the plans that God has for you, even though you have waited for years for the fulfillment of those plans. He is faithful and He will bring to pass those dreams that He has for you.
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God,” Psalm 42:1:11.
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson of In His Truth Ministries came to the LORD is a special way in 1975 and has prophesied regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?