The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged. Acts 28:15
Have you had the experience of attempting something...you’ve really poured your all into it, but it’s looking like failure is imminent? All your time and effort, the late nights, the hopes and dreams. Maybe it’s a project at work. Maybe it’s a relationship that you’re desprately trying to save right now. Discouragement has you in it’s clutches. This devotional is dedicated to all of you who are discouraged and feel like quitting, no matter where you are.
Notice, first of all, that discouragement almost always comes when you are physically fatigued. Are you tired? Can you honestly remember ever being discouraged when you were rested? Of course not! But you can recall many times when you were weary; then this heavy enemy called discouragement set in.
Do you remember the Sunday School story about a fiery prophet by the name of Elijah who went up against the prophets of Baal and thundered forth the judgment of God. He won single‑handedly, yet when he was tired physically as the result of the conflict, he turned and ran to the wilderness of Horeb. Discouragement turned to despair as he said, "Lord, just let me die. I am no better than the prophets before me." Stop! Even a man who spoke with and for God got discouraged. And God put him into a deep sleep.
Second, notice that discouragement is extremely contagious. Motivational speaker Charles Tremendous Jones was an extremely successful businessman. In a few years he sold more insurance than many sell in a lifetime. When Jones was asked if he ever got discouraged he replied, "Sure, I do, but I can't afford to let you know. Then we'll just discourage each other." When one person allows himself to become discouraged, he’s contagious—he’ll discourage everybody he comes in contact with. Remember in the Old Testament, when the ten spies sent out by Joshua to check out the Promised Land discouraged an entire nation? Discouragement is a very expensive luxury.
Here is the third: Discouragement is an enemy which does battle with faith. Faith says, "I am willing to trust God” but discouragement cries out, "It is not worth it." Let’s talk about several ways to deal with discouragement:
1) Recognize that it is no sin to be discouraged. Spiritual giants and others of great accomplishment have all battled it.
2) You can deal with your discouragement by bringing it to God and asking Him for new courage and strength. I love that Psalm 55:17 says, “I will murmer and complain and he will hear my voice.” Do you remember when Jesus faced the temptation in the wilderness? God sent angels to minister to Him, and God still meets the one who will bring his discouragement to Him.
3) Let me remind you of the Apostle Paul, who found himself on the way to Rome where he was almost certain execution awaited him. Paul had a long journey across the stormy Mediterranean from Caesarea in Israel to Rome. Physically he was weary when he began the journey. As he came towards Rome, three fellow believers came to meet him and he "thanked God and took courage."
If you are struggling with the despair of discouragement, there is rest to be found in God. Memorize Isaiah 41:10: “I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” And then, begin again, with His help.
Resource reading: Acts 27:13-44.