More Than Conquerors - Dave Smith


June 2021

Discouragement is the breaking down of courage, which, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” It can be caused by disappointment (as we dealt with last month), exhaustion, being unthankful, wrong perceptions, increased responsibility, or past failures.

The disciples allowed physical and spiritual exhaustion to lead to discouragement. In the evening, Jesus told them to get in a boat and cross the Sea of Galilee. But because of a strong storm, they worked diligently rowing most of the night so that by between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., they were only in the middle of the sea. When they saw Christ walking on the water, they were extremely afraid because they thought they were going to die. But Jesus told them to be of good cheer—encouraged—because He was the great I Am (Matt. 14:22-27; Mark 6:45-50).

Another reason people are discouraged is because they are unthankful for miracles God has performed in the past, and they are concentrating on current problems. For example, the soul of the Israelites was “discouraged because of the way” (Num. 21:4), which included all the problems they had experienced since they had been in the wilderness. They had forgotten all the miracles God performed in their deliverance from Egypt, at the Red Sea, and His provision of water (Ex. 15:23-24; 17:1-7; Num. 20:2-5), bread, and meat (Ex. 16:2-3; Num. 11:4-9).

Now they were complaining that there was no bread and water for them even though God was still providing them with enough manna to eat every day. They had grown to despise that very manna (Num. 21:5), and their complaining was unbelief that God could not or would not meet their needs (Ps. 78:19), and that they had been better off in Egypt (Ex. 14:12; Num. 11:4-6; 14:3-4).

People are also discouraged because they have wrong perceptions of reality. Elisha and his servant were at Dothan when the great Syrian army surrounded the city. When Elisha’s servant woke up the next day and saw the city surrounded and outnumbered, he asked Elisha in great fear, what they were going to do (II Kings 6:15). Elisha then prayed that God would open his eyes so he could see the greater number of angelic hosts that would protect them. “For they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (II Kings 6:13-17).

Sometimes believers can be discouraged because of receiving greater responsibility. This could have happened when Moses died and the leadership of at least two to three million Israelites was given to Joshua. God told him, “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” (Joshua 1:9). So, God told Joshua that he did not have to be discouraged, afraid, or hesitant. Nor did he have to draw back from being confused, alarmed, crushed, or broken because God told Joshua to do it, and that He would be with him every step of the way.

Some are discouraged because of guilt resulting from failures. One of David’s failures came about as he fled Israel when Saul was trying to kill him. He went over to the land of the Philistines for sixteen months and lied to them that he was fighting Israel when in fact he was fighting and killing other enemies of Israel (I Sam. 27:8-12). While David and his men were away, the Amalekites came to David’s camp at Ziklag, burned it and took their wives and families as captives (I Sam. 30:1-3). David was greatly distressed, and his men were grieved. They threatened to stone David because they blamed him for losing their families and possessions. When he came to the end of himself, David encouraged himself in the Lord (I Sam. 30:6).

The disciples on the Sea of Galilee overcame their discouragement by recognizing Christ and realizing that He was with them. The Israelites were encouraged by remembering all the miracles God had done for them and that He was going to continue to meet their needs. Elisha’s servant saw for himself how great God and His angelic host were. God reminded Joshua that He had made him the new leader of Israel and would help him just as He had helped Moses. By receiving forgiveness for his sin and direction in dealing with the Amalekites, God encouraged David.


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