Discouragement Worksheet

This worksheet augments the lesson on Discouragement 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.

Causes of Discouragement – Worksheet

 

Following are biblical examples of people who faced discouragement.  We will see the biblical response of encouragement in the next lesson.

D – Disagreements and conflicts – Discouragement in RELATIONSHIPS

  • David and King Saul – 1 Samuel 18
    • Saul was David’s father-in-law
    • The throne was removed from Saul and promised to David
    • Saul tried to kill David
  • Barnabas and Paul – Acts 15
    • Barnabas was an encourager
    • Barnabas and Paul disagreed about ministry
    • Barnabas and Paul parted ways and conducted separate ministries

I –Issues with finances and possessions – Discouragement in PROVISION

  • Job lost all of his possessions – Job 1
    • Job was a very wealthy man
    • God took away all of his assets
    • Job’s wife told him to curse God and die
  • Widow and the cruse of oil – 1 Kings 17
    • Because of the famine the widow had almost nothing
    • Her creditors threatened to sell her sons into slavery to collect their money
    • Elijah’s commands to her required great faith on her part

S – Spiritual Warfare – Discouragement in SPIRITUAL WARFARE

  • Elijah and the 450 false prophets of Baal – 1 Kings 18 – 19
    • Elijah thought he stood alone fighting against idolatry
    • There was a showdown on Mt Carmel
    • Jezebel sent her servants to find and kill Elijah
  • Jeremiah prophesies to an unbelieving Israel – Jeremiah 20, 32, 37, 38
    • Jeremiah warned the people of judgment
    • Jeremiah was imprisoned, persecuted, and thrown into a wel
  • Vision in Daniel 10
    • Daniel fasted and prayed 21 days waiting for the Lord
    • The angel fought with Satan for those 21 days until Michael came and helped him

C – Circumstances – Discouragement in our CIRCUMSTANCES

  • Children of Israel as they wandered through the desert  Numbers 21:4
    • The Jews (likely a million or so people) wandered in the desert for 40 years
    • Their disbelief caused those over 20 to be kept out of the Promised Land (Numbers 14)
  • David at Ziklag – I Samuel 30
    • The city was burned and the women and children taken captive
    • Some of David’s men wanted to kill him
  • Isaac and Rebekah and the wives of Esau –Genesis 26: 34 – 35
    • Esau did things his own way
    • Esau married Canaanite wives in spite of God’s commands
  • Naomi – Ruth 1 -2
    • Naomi and her family had to leave Israel because of famine
    • Naomi’s husband and two sons died in Moab
    • Naomi the widow returned to Israel with her foreign daughter-in-law
  • King Asa and the 1 million Ethiopians – 2 Chronicles 14:10-12
    • The Ethiopian army greatly outnumbered the Israeli army
    • Victory was humanly impossible

O – Our Sin / Sinful Responses – Discouragement due to our CHOICES

  • Jonah – Jonah 1 -4
    • Jonah ran away from God
    • Jonah’s disobedience caused others to be in danger
    • Jonah did not like it when God granted forgiveness to Nineveh
  • Samson – Judges 14 -16 (entire book of Judges describes the cycle of the Judges)
    • Samson did God’s work in his own way
    • Samson’s disobedience cost him his ministry and ultimately his life
  • Israel making a golden calf at Mount Sinai – Exodus 32
    • The people would not wait for Moses to return
    • They made idols to worship God their own way

U – Unfulfilled Expectations – Discouragement of DISAPPOINTED EXPECTATIONS

  • Disciples after Christ was crucified – Matthew 26:56; John 20:19
    • The disciples thought Christ’s kingdom would be in their lifetime
    • They were dismayed when Christ was crucified like a common criminal
  • Abraham  and the promise of an heir – Genesis 15; 16: 1-2
    • Abraham was promised an heir when he was 90
    • Sarah and Abraham had a hard time waiting and believing so they “helped” God

R – Response to emotional pain – Discouraging WORDS and EMOTIONS

  • Hannah – 1 Samuel 1
    • Peninnah taunted Hannah and mocked her childlessness
    • Hannah was in distress of soul
  • The Children of Israel and the report from 10 of the 12 spies – Numbers 13; Numbers 32:9; Deuteronomy 1:28
    • The spies did not believe God
    • Their words influenced the others

A – Answers to Prayer are Delayed –Discouragement of UNANSWERED PRAYER

  • King Jehoram, Elisha, and the siege of Samaria – 2 Kings 6 and 7
    • The siege had lasted a long time so that some people had resorted to cannibalism
    • The king blamed Elisha and wanted to kill him
  • The Shunamite’s son who died 2 Kings 4
    • Because the Shunamite ministered to Elisha and his servant, God gave her a son
    • Her son died unexpectedly of a fever
    • She ran to Elisha for help

G – Grieving God – Discouragement of our SPIRITUAL FAILURES

  • David – Bathsheba  2 Samuel 12:9; Psalm 51:4  David ignored his kingly responsibilities.
    • David committed sin with Bathsheba, then had her husband killed
    • Nathan the prophet confronted David
  • Lot – Living in Sodom  2 Peter 2:7
    • Lot chose the best land
    • Lot’s righteous soul was vexed daily from living in such an ungodly place

E – Employment conflict – Discouragement in our RESPONSIBILITES

  • Moses judging the Children of Israel (Exodus 18: 13-23)
    • Moses settled conflicts from morning to evening every day
    • He was worn out from his work
  • Rebuilding the temple (Ezra 4)
    • A remnant of people returned to rebuild the temple
    • Neighboring peoples tried to stop them with discouraging words and threats
  • Jacob’s wages – Genesis 28 -30
    • Laban changed Jacob’s wages multiple times
    • Laban regularly tried to cheat Jacob
  • Joseph and Potiphar’s wife – Genesis 39
    • Joseph was sold into slavery
    • His master’s wife tried to seduce him
    • Joseph was wrongfully imprisoned and then forgotten
  • Queen Esther and Haman – Esther 4
    • Esther was made queen to Ahasuerus
    • Haman wanted to kill all Jews out of spite
    • Esther had to be willing to forfeit her life to speak for her people

D – Disease, Illness, Pain, Physical Causes – Discouraging PHYSICAL PROBLEMS

  • Job – Job 2:4-8
    • Satan was allowed to take Job’s health
    • Job’s friends gave unhelpful advice
  • Paul – 1 Corinthians 12:2-8
    • Paul had a “thorn in the flesh”
    • God would not remove it

 

Friends and Thieves

When our children were young we had no other families with small children in our new little church.  Often at family devotions one of our children would pray that God would send them each a Christian friend, but they had to wait a long time for God’s answer to that prayer.

In  struggling with the desire to have a friend her own age, our daughter wrestled  with the temptation to overlook things she knew were wrong for the sake of having someone to play with.  Her prayers for a Christian friend seemed to be answered when the family of one of her classmates began attending our church and the two girls started spending time together.  The new family had standards which were different from ours, evidenced in almost every area of life.   This difference provided a springboard for our children to ask many questions as to why we do what we do, and allowed us to point out the biblical defence for our choices.

One day while these nine year old girls were playing together, they decided, without permission, to ride their bicycles to the nearby drug store. When their trek lead them to the cosmetics counter, our daughter’s friend held up a brightly coloured lipstick and suggested they should each get one. Our daughter pointed out that they had no money, but her friend showed her how easy it was to slip that slender tube into her pocket and take it without paying for it.  It was so pretty!  They would be like the bigger girls!  And, after all, it only cost a little bit of money so it wasn’t really like stealing.  James 1:15 tells us “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin,” So the deed was done and the girls left the store.

The lipstick stayed hidden for a short time, but soon I noticed telltale red marks in the vicinity of my daughter’s lips. (Did she think I wouldn’t notice?)  Had she used mommy’s lipstick without asking?  No?  What do you mean it is your lipstick?  You’re not allowed to have lipstick.  You got it at the store when you were at your friend’s?  How could you buy it when you had no money?  Soon the compromised conscience of a young child who has been taught right but has done wrong caused her to confess her sin in tears.  We told her that she had to go with us to the store and talk to the manager, confess her theft, and pay for the lipstick.

We then called the friend’s mother and told her what had happened.  Imagine our consternation and absolute shock when this mother responded that she knew about the theft but wouldn’t dream of embarrassing her daughter by making her go to the store manager and confess the theft. No amount of urging or biblical admonition would budge this woman’s position.  The welfare of her child’s soul was bartered at the altar of keeping up appearances.  And so ended a less than beautiful friendship for these two girls.

The Bible has much to say about friendships.  Godly friends can bring us immeasurable benefit.  David was grateful for the unselfish friendship of Jonathan, who put his friend’s welfare before his own. (I Samuel 18:3)  The Proverbs remind us that a true friend loves at all times and speaks the truth to us, even when it may temporarily hurt.  (Proverbs 17:17 & 27:6)  Obedient Christians are counted as friends of Jesus. (John 15: 14-15)

On the other hand, the wrong friends can harm us.  Amnon’s friend gave him counsel that ultimately lead to death.  (II Samuel 13:3)  Haman’s friends commiserated with him in his plot against the Jews and none of them warned against carrying out the wicked scheme (Esther 5.) Job’s friends came to wrong conclusions about Job’s troubles and could not help him see God’s providential hand in difficult circumstances (throughout Job.) We are warned not to make friends of an angry man (Proverbs 22:24) or with worldly people, who are God’s enemies (James 4:4.) Finally, we are warned that evil or ungodly companions can corrupt us (I Corinthians 15:33.)

Our daughter learned some valuable lessons about friends through that incident.  She still yearned for a close friend and even had other disappointments of friends professing faith in Christ, then falling away from that profession.  Her tender heart discovered that in Christ “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”  (Prov. 18:24) Several years later God graciously granted her the desire of her heart by bringing a newly saved classmate to our church.  This girl loves the Lord, is obedient to the Scriptures and wants to serve God with all her heart.  Our daughter gratefully discovered the joy of having the right kind of friends.