by Emily Conrad
When I was dealing with some discouragement a few months ago, one of my friends suggested that discouragement is one of the devil’s favorite weapons. I’m inclined to agree. Why else take everything from Job but leave his three “friends” who thought Job had brought calamity on himself and the wife who would suggest he to give up and curse God?
Another reason I believe the devil is entwined with discouragement? When it starts to flourish in my life, lies are feeding it.
But for every lie, Jesus offers life-feeding truth.
Here are some of the lies I’ve found feed discouragement and truths to starve it:
Lie 1: My past disqualifies me.
Mistakes, sins, and failures can leave us in a pit of shame we can’t seem to escape though we have confessed our sin the way the Bible instructs us to. This shame isn’t from God.
As 1 John 1:9 says, But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (NET)
He cleanses. He continues to use us. The Bible is full of murderers and adulterers and blundering followers who blew it again and again. Yet God forgave, restored, and used them. If He did it for them, He’ll do it for you.
Truth: Jesus qualifies me.
Lie 2: If God were going to act, He would’ve done it by now. I think of Mary and Martha, sending for Jesus when their brother Lazarus is sick. Imagine their hope. They have a personal relationship with the Messiah, and He loves Lazarus. Surely, He won’t let their brother die. In fact, He promises otherwise in John 11:4: When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not lead to death, but to God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (NET)
But then Jesus delays coming, and Lazarus slips away. Lazarus has been in the grave four days when Jesus arrives, and the sisters struggle with understanding why Jesus didn’t come sooner. Moments before raising Lazarus back to life, Jesus says to Martha words that can encourage us today as we wait for God in situations in our lives: Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:41, NET)
Maybe in our lives, this will look the way we hope it will. Maybe it won’t. But whatever the case, when we follow Jesus in belief, we will see the glory of God. This is no trite thing.
Truth: God will come through in the most glorious way.
3. This isn’t worth the cost. When we face rejection, criticism, and setbacks of all kinds, those negatives can discourage us from speaking truth, loving like God loves, and following the Holy Spirit’s prompting. After all, there is sometimes a price to pay for doing the right thing, and we don’t always see the fruit we long for.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus faced rejection, criticism, and setbacks, too, but deemed it worth the cost in light of eternity. We can do the same. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17, For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.
Truth: The cost doesn’t compare with the reward.
4. The outcome is my responsibility. This lie reaches into the past, loading guilt and feelings of inadequacy on our backs because of situations that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, even when we weren’t in the wrong. It also reaches into the future, casting fear of failure over tasks we’re called to.
But God doesn’t ask us to be self-sufficient. He asks us to have faith, to believe, and to follow Him.
For example, when Jesus sent the disciples out in Matthew 10, He gave instructions about what to do if “if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your message” (v. 14, NET). If success were guaranteed, he would not have done that nor warned us of other problems we’ll face. What we’re left with then, is to follow Jesus and rest assured God has the outcome.
As Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage– I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33, NET)
Truth: The outcome is in perfect hands.
Have you noticed any lies feeding discouragement in your life? How do you combat them?