Once upon a time, the Devil decided to have a huge yard sale. He advertised that he was selling off many of his tools. On the day of the sale, a curious crowd gathered, but they soon discovered that one tool had a big “Not for Sale” sign attached to it. One man got up his courage and approached the Devil. He asked him to explain what that tool did and why it wasn’t for sale. The Devil answered, “I can do without my other tools, but not this one. It is the most useful tool that I have. It is called “Discouragement,” and with it I can find my way into hearts that would otherwise be unreachable. When I can get this tool into a person’s heart, it opens the way for me to put anything else in there that I want.”
That’s just a made-up story, of course, but it highlights a problem we can all relate to. Discouragement often opens the door to anger, bitterness, fear, worry, and sometimes even hatred. We are all prone to it because we live in a broken, messed up world, and we have to be around other people who are struggling with many of the same frustrations that we are experiencing.
It helps a little bit to know that we aren’t the only ones who have struggled with discouragement. I doubt any of us have suffered as much as Job did, but we can still understand what he was feeling when he exclaimed: “When I expected good, then evil came; when I waited for light, then darkness came. I am seething within and cannot relax; days of affliction confront me. I go about mourning without comfort….” (Job 30:26–28).
Discouragement usually sets in when people or circumstances don’t meet our expectations. Is there anything that can we do about it?
Let me show you how God’s power can overcome the discouragements that come our way. Hang with me, because the solution is the opposite of what you would expect. It really does work, though!
Instead of removing our disappointments, God is so powerful that He offers blessings that are so wonderful they can overcome the anguish that life throws at us. Jesus put it this way: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Jesus explains the pathway to cheerfulness this way, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25).
In other words, Jesus is telling us to give ourselves completely to Him. Then (and only then), we can experience what real, satisfying life is all about. That’s because God created us to bring glory to Him (see Isaiah 43:7 and Revelation 4:11). That is why we exist!!
You may ask, “How can turning to Christ open the door to a satisfying life?” There are two massively important explanations. Think of them as two sides of the same coin.
We must first see that God is all-powerful and completely holy and unique. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). There is no one like Him!
We don’t need life to be easier. Instead, what we need is the presence of God in our everyday lives. That is why God says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
And the other side of the coin? Not only is God’s greatness way beyond our imagination, but He has also proven that He loves us. That continues to amaze me. That is why King David mused, “O Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him?” (Psalm 144:3).
The same God who made and controls everything has also rescued us from our rebellious ways. The hope that God offers “does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:5–6).
Let me assure you that “Indeed, none of those who wait for [God] will be ashamed….” (Psalm 25:3). If you will turn from your sin and come to Jesus, you will discover that “those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31).
Once you come to Christ, this promise becomes yours: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Don’t let the Devil use his “Discouragement tool” on you.
Bethel Chapel Church is located at the corner of K & Lycoming Streets in Juniata. Website: http://www.BethelChapelChurch.com. You can email Rev. Scudder at DaveBethel@gmail.com. His column can be read weekly in the Juniata News.