This session was recently presented to the pastors’ wives at the National Church Planters’ Conference in Mentor Ohio, sponsored by ARCH Ministries. These sessions were adapted from my ladies’ Sunday School series on Biblical Womanhood created for Meadowlands Baptist Church of Edmonton.
Session 3 – Discouragement
Discouragement is something that most of us face in our lives. As Christians we know we should trust in the Lord and we believe what God says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” but yet we succumb at times to discouragement.
Let’s define our terms. What is discouragement? The Free Dictionary (www.thefreedictionary.com ) says discourage is “1. To deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit; 2. To hamper by discouraging; deter: 3. To try to prevent by expressing disapproval or raising objections. Another definition is: derailment; feeling of despair in the face of obstacles (www.english-test.net) while a third defines discourage: 1. To deprive of the will to persist in something; 2. To oppose by expressing disapproval (www.dictionary.reference.com) For our purposes we will define discouragement this way: to leave one without hope, to feel emotionally deflated or without confidence; to be dispirited.
For years he was forced to live a renegade life, eking out an existence in caves and tents, residing in neighboring countries which were at war with his nation. What heinous crime had he committed causing him to live such a life? Unflinching faith. As a youth David so loved and defended his God that he stood alone in battle against the mocking champion giant Goliath, with unwavering faith that God would guide him to defend His holy name. David grew into a mighty warrior, known for his skill in battle and wisdom as a leader. The prophet Samuel made it clear that the Kingdom of Israel would be taken from the disobedient Saul and given to David, and Saul was jealous and angry because of it. For a while the two lived in uneasy harmony until Saul attempted to take David’s life. So David fled and hid from Saul, gathering an army of warriors and mighty men to himself over time.
As his army grew it became more difficult to move the men and their families from place to place. In the providence of God David helped the Philistines defeat some common enemies and the godless Philistine King Achish rewarded David and his men by giving them the city of Ziklag to live in. David’s army fought alongside the Philistine armies to defeat many foes, but then the day came when the Philistines were to do battle with Israel. David did not want to war against his brethren and God caused the distrust and suspicions of some Philistine officers to keep David from joining the conflict. The Israeli army was sent back to Ziklag.
It took them three days to return home. As they topped the hill overlooking Ziklag they were stunned by a horrible sight. The city had been burned and was in ruins. No signs of life met them. The Amalekites had raided Ziklag, burned the city, and taken captive all of the women and children. Tired from their strenuous battles and weary from traveling the men mourned and wept. Some ranted and in their distress blamed David and threatened to kill him. Exhausted, displaced, and facing disgruntled men, David was discouraged.
The Bible uses several words to describe discouragement. What does the Bible have to say to those who grow discouraged?
- Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God…
- 2 Corinthians 7:6 God…comforteth those that are cast down
- Deuteronomy 31:8 And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
- Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
- Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
- Psalm 107:6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
- Psalm 107:13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
- 2 Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
- 1Thessalonians 3:7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
Matthew Henry comments on this:
“Those that have taken the Lord for their God may take encouragement from their relation to him in the worst of times. It is the duty and interest of all good people, whatever happens, to encourage themselves in God as their Lord and their God, assuring themselves that he can and will bring light out of darkness, peace out of trouble, and good out of evil… It was David’s practice, and he had the comfort of it, ‘What time I am afraid I will trust in thee’. When he was at his wits’ end he was not at his faith’s end.”
The flip side of this will be presented in Session 4: Encouragement