Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Origin of Discouragement

     In anguish of heart, David raises the question we all ask in times when our soul is troubled.
    "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted in me?" (Psalm 42:5).
    The Apostle Paul answers: "There are many adversaries...  We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (I Corinthians 16:9; Ephesians 6:12).
    Too often we view discouragement as merely a condition of our own origin and making.  Certainly it is true that we are responsible if we embrace the temptation to be cast down.  However, we fail to completely understand discouragement if we do not factor in the existence of influences outside of ourselves who seek to foist despair upon us.  The world, the devil and the flesh (both of ourselves and others) entice us to ignore the perpetual hope wrought in us by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God.  Failure to recognize these nefarious attempts to disquiet our soul leaves us as easy prey, and also fosters the discouragement which results from our being unaware of its true origin.
    Our enemies know that a discouraged believer is a paralyzed believer.  Thus, they seek to cast us down in countless ways, while masking the very fact of their attacks.  The latter ploy may be the most effective weapon in their arsenal because a discouraged, paralyzed believer is also a believer who feels great condemnation for his lack of realized peace and joy.  If we view discouragement as a device completely of our own making, we will inevitably join our enemies in casting ourselves down into the perpetually downward cycle of ignorance and unbelief.
    Even a cursory reading of Scripture reveals that believers in the Lord Jesus have infinitely more about which to be encouraged than discouraged.  "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).   Our enemies know this, and they also know that a consistently encouraged Christian is a sharp and double-edged sword in the Lord's hand.  Recognizing the temptation from without to be cast down prepares us for the determination within to "fight the good fight of faith" (I Timothy 6:12).  Indeed, we do well to get our spiritual dander up, as it were, whenever we sense discouragement.  Because somebody is seeking our harm, and even more, the stilling of our Christ-honoring walk with God.  May we not allow such a thing to happen as we "put on the whole armor of God" by joining David in the provision He found for a soul tempted to disquiet and despair...
"Rejoice the soul of Thy servant: for unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul."
(Psalm 86:4)

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