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Weakening Discouragement
by Rick Stephenson
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Why is it that some days we wake up alert and energized ready to face the world feeling like we can conquer anything that comes our way and other days we struggle to open our eyes and tap into a source of motivation, confidence or optimism?

To be completely honest with you, Im not sure I have the answer for what makes the days begin one way or another (other than the common sense thing about getting enough sleep). However, I will tell you that I believe I have the answer for why even though the day may begin a certain way, it can be changed.

You see there is an enemy of our souls that is out to devour us as scripture warns us: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1-Peter 5:8 KJV).

The word devour here means to destroy something rapidly and completely, to use up something unwisely or wastefully or even to become an overwhelming and destructive passion or obsession for somebody.

So lets think about this for a minute. If we were going to destroy something, would we want the thing to be destroyed to be able to fight back or would we want it to succumb to our efforts quickly and peacefully? The answer is obviously that we would want to weaken it before destroying it. Hence, we have now figured out the devils strategy against us. He wants to sap us of our strength and discourage us before he pounces on us.

Our strength can be found in the physical power we possess, the emotional fortitude we have built up, our support systems, our personal assets and qualities weve been blessed with and the degree of intensity to which we take these things seriously and cherish or guard them in our lives.

Courage, on the other hand, is the quality of being brave, the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from our chosen course of action.

Understanding these concepts then, what the enemy will attempt to do is siphon off our strength through constant little attacks here and there that begin to demoralize and weaken those areas like this: for physical power he will run us ragged until were tired and weary, for emotional fortitude hell play games and get us to run on highs and lows of our emotions, for support systems hell get them distracted and their attention on other things, for personal assets and qualities, hell show us others who are bigger and better then hell chip away at their value and importance in light of these comparisons.

All of this may cause us to grow exhausted and overly taxed, which will then open us up for out right attacks that will test our courage through physical dangers, emotional difficulties, uncertain support, or deep pain where we thought we had significant meaning.

If we have not built up our defenses enough, prior to these attacks, we begin to wane in our level of courage or in other words, we begin to become discouraged. We feel like we dont measure up, or we lose our self-confidence. We begin to resist the struggle because it takes so much effort and we just want to begin feeling better about our life or our situation.

Then the enemy will take advantage of us further once we have reached this stage by trying to feed us false information confirming what we think we are feeling and suggesting poisonous alternatives that might make us feel better in the short run but that are hurting us overall: like pursing our own physical pleasure to feel good, seeking fame and notoriety to hide what we feel about ourselves, pumping our bodies full of chemicals (caffeine, alcohol, drugs) to make us think its is the only way we can carry on or even thinking that value and worth comes from outside of us through things and position. All the while these things are creating within us a dependency for more and more to prop us up and keep us going until eventually the enemy takes away the glitz and glamour of the false faade and we see the truth usually too late to do anything about it. We have been devoured.

Now for the good news! Since we are not ignorant of what the enemy is trying to pull, we can face it and counter act it. This is why scripture tells us repeatedly in many different ways to be strong and courageous. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:7 KJV)

In other words, what God is attempting to get through to us is that we need to first recognize our areas of strength and keep guard over them. Its like the muscle builder that knows unless they continually work out the muscles will stop growing and they will actually begin deteriorating. We must not sell our selves short! God has placed incredible value in you and he knows you can use it for His glory! However, we must also remember that these are gifts of His, meaning we are stewards or managers only of what He has given us not the owner. Therefore, as a manager we have responsibility to use these gifts responsibly and to protect their value. We can never handle them in our own strength but we can utilize them through His strength since He is undefeatable and the creator of all things (yes He even created the enemy but addressing that is for another blog).

Knowing this: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13 KJV) Then our true source of strength can never be sapped or weakened, which means that we can face whatever comes our way with God on our side. Therefore, no matter how we may wake up feeling in the morning if we think about this and the positive impact Gods word has on our lives we can always change how we think even if our feelings may not immediately correspond.

If you currently find yourself in a state of being devoured or thinking that you have gone too far so whats the point, please let me remind you that prey is usually not devoured in one bite, it is a process of time and as long as there is a breath in your body, there still is hope. All you need to do is acknowledge that you cant fight the enemy in your strength (your current state has proven that) but that you need Gods strength. So call out to him with a humble and repentant heart and He will come running to your aid.

Let me encourage you today that discouragement can be weakened by trusting in the one who constantly encourages us to be strong and courageous and then gives us the resources and help to do so.

For further strength and encouragement today please read Proverbs chapter 3!

God Bless - Rick


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