Has the quicksand of discouragement ever wrapped angry tentacles around your throat? Has it ever smashed your dreams to pieces, ruining your hopes and dreams? Take heart, for discouragement has a purpose in God’s plan. And yet it is not His desire to leave you there.
Sennacherib, King of Discouragement
Discouragement is epitomized in the Old Testament Assyrian King Sennacherib. (see II Kings 18:13 - 19:37, II Chronicles 32:1-22 and Isaiah chapters 36 and 37). He went everywhere conquering, wherever there were idols to smash.
Human wisdom and self defense provided no protection against this man, who took the fenced cities of Judah (which means 'praise'). Even godly king Hezekiah feared this Discourager.
Hezekiah tried to compromise (buy the man off) with silver and gold, including gold from the doors of the recently repaired temple. Not a smart move, for the next year Sennacherib returned with a even bigger army, preceded by the infamous bad news messenger Rab-shakeh (aka "rabid shaker"). He really shook up the people, but they weren't taken in by it.
Silence in the Face of Persecution
They could have run, they could have panicked, they could have taken matters into their own hands. Instead they listened to Hezekiah and refused to answer Rabshakeh's words (II Kings 18:36). That's the best way to answer a bearer of discouragement: by saying nothing. After all, discouragement is a communicable disease. Why spread it?
No Miracle For Herod
Jesus is a prime example for us here. He spoke up when necessary but remained silent before his persecutors. He quietly refused to perform any miracles for Herod. What might we learn from this?
“Deliver Us From The Evil One”
My God revive this "forgotten prayer!" and deliver us all from the spirit of slumber (heavy sorrow) that leads to temptation! I think of the disciples falling asleep in Gethsemane, whose spirits were willing but whose flesh was weak. And isn't that all of us?
Yet no matter how we fall, God is real; His forgiveness is powerful; His deliverance rocks! Hezekiah prayed for deliverance, and God answered him through His messenger, the prophet.
The Prophetic Word
“Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe in His prophets, so shall ye prosper.” - II Chronicles 20:20
In times of trouble, the prophetic rocks! That's because it's God's opinion on your circumstances. Prophetic words can confirm the things God has already been speaking to you. Or they may give you food for thought - something you never thought of before.
Hezekiah cried out to God for help against Sennacherib. But he also got the prophet Isaiah to pray. And God gave the prophet a word to share with him. (see II Kings 19:20-34).
God blessed Isaiah for believing this Word. That very night, He sent His angel to put to death - count ‘em - 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Can you imagine the sight of all those corpses? God got rid of Sennacherib, and the rest is history.
God’s deliverance was swift, sure, and decisive. He never leaves His people - the ones who call on His name - in the hands of the discourager. He saves all who call on His name (Romans 10:9-13). His plans for us are for peace, not evil. (Jeremiah 23:11). He’s the only one that’s good (Mark 10:18) and is much more willing to give good gifts than we are. (Luke 11:13)
Conclusion of the Matter
So how do we deal with discouragement?
First of all, pray. Ask God to show you the source of discouragement. Does God want to smash an idol in your heart? Have you become to critical, complaining, or self-reliant, bitter even? Ask the Lord to show you.
Second, don't spread discouragement when it comes.
Keep mum like Hezekiah's guys. Speak the word of God, as opposed to speculation. Turn off (and tune out) all sources of discouragement (such as the nightly news).
Third, pray. By yourself or with friends. Get God's mind on the matter. Get theirs.
Fourth, after you get God's mind on the matter (as near as you can make out), watch for it to come to pass. In the meantime let positive, encouraging words flow from your mouth, remembering that the tongue has the power of life and death. You can use your tongue to speak life and in that way rise above the circumstances that would bring you down.