* When some reject your faith don’t let discouragement stop you
Pharaoh would not listen to Moses and Aaron because he did not know or respect God. People who do not know God may not listen to his Word or his messengers. Like Moses and Aaron, we need to persist and don’t let discouragement stop you. When others reject you or your faith, don’t be surprised or discouraged. Continue to tell them about God, trusting him to open minds and soften stubborn hearts. (NLT)
Exodus 5:3 – But Aaron and Moses persisted. “The God of the Hebrews has met with us,” they declared. “Let us take a three-day trip into the wilderness so we can offer sacrifices to the Lord our God. If we don’t, we will surely die by disease or the sword.”
* Keep your faith in times of discouragement
This was the fifth time God sent Moses back to Pharaoh with the demand “Let my people go!” By this time, Moses may have been tired and discouraged, but he continued to obey. Is there a difficult conflict you must face again and again? Don’t give up when you know what is right to do. As Moses discovered, persistence is rewarded. (NLT)
Exodus 9:1 – “Go back to Pharaoh,” the Lord commanded Moses. “Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.”
* Pray when you feel discouraged
Hannah had good reason to feel discouraged and bitter. She was unable to bear children, she shared her husband with a woman who ridiculed her, her loving husband could not solve her problem, and even the high priest misunderstood her motives. But instead of retaliating or giving up hope, Hannah prayed, she brought her problem honestly before God.
Each of us may face times of barrenness when nothing “comes to birth” in our work, service, or relationships. It is difficult to pray in faith when we feel so ineffective. But as Hannah discovered, prayer opens the way for God to work. (NLT)
1 Samuel 1:10 – Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.
* Don’t let people discourage you
Criticism couldn’t stop David. While the rest of the army stood around, he knew the importance of taking action. With God to fight for him, there was no reason to wait. People may try to discourage you with negative comments or mockery, but continue to do what you know is right. By doing what is right, you will be pleasing God, whose opinion matters most. (NLT)
1 Samuel 17:28-32 – But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded. “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and dishonesty. You just want to see the battle!”
“What have I done now?” David replied. “I was only asking a question!” He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer. Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.
“Don’t worry about a thing,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight this Philistine!”
* Ridicule can cut deeply, causing discouragement and despair. Sanballat and Tobiah used ridicule to try to dissuade the Jews from building the wall. Instead of trading insults, however, Nehemiah prayed, and the work continued. When you are mocked for your faith or criticized for doing what you know is right, refuse to respond in the same way or to become discouraged. Tell God how you feel and remember his promise to be with you. This will give you encouragement and strength to carry on. (NLT)
Nehemiah 4:1-5 – Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samaritan army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they are doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a day if they offer enough sacrifices? Look at those charred stones they are pulling out of the rubbish and using again!”
Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!”
Then I prayed, “Hear us, O our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land! Do not ignore their guilt. Do not blot out their sins, for they have provoked you to anger here in the presence of the builders.”
* Discouragement often comes after spiritual victory
Elijah experienced the depths of fatigue and discouragement just after his two great spiritual victories: the defeat of the prophets of Baal and the answered prayer for rain. Often discouragement sets in after great spiritual experiences, especially those requiring physical effort or involving great emotion. To lead him out of depression, God first let Elijah rest and eat. Then God confronted him with the need to return to his mission–to speak God’s words in Israel. Elijah’s battles were not over; there was still work for him to do. When you feel let down after a great spiritual experience, remember that God’s purpose for your life is not yet over. (NLT)
1 Kings 19:3 – Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.
* Discouragement makes us feel sorry for ourselves
Elijah though he was the only person left who was still true to God. He had seen both the king’s court and the priesthood become corrupt. After experiencing great victory at Mount Carmel, he had to run for his life. Lonely and discouraged, he forgot that others had remained faithful during the nation’s wickedness. When you are tempted to think that you are the only one remaining faithful to a task, don’t stop to feel sorry for yourself. Self-pity will dilute the good you are doing. Be assured that even if you don’t know who they are, others are faithfully obeying God and fulfilling their duties. (NLT)
1 Kings 19:10 – Elijah replied, I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I alone am left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
* Remember God’s purposes during discouragement
Accomplishing any large task is tiring. There are always pressures that foster discouragement–the task seems impossible, it can never be finished, or too many factors are working against us. The only cure for fatigue and discouragement is focusing on God’s purposes. Nehemiah reminded the workers of their calling, their goal, and God’s protection. If you are overwhelmed by an assignment, tired and discouraged, remember God’s purpose for your life and his special purpose for the project. (NLT)
Nehemiah 4:10-14 – Then the people of Judah began to complain that the workers were becoming tired. There was so much rubble to be moved that we could never get it done by ourselves. Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.”
The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!” So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows.
Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the leaders and the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!”
* Avoiding discouragement when you witness
Jesus said he would be with them in person for only a short time, and they should take advantage of his presence while they had it. Like a light shining in a dark place, he would point out the way they should walk. If they walked in his light, they would become “children of the light,” revealing the truth and pointing people to God. As Christians, we are to be Christ’s light bearers, letting his light shine through us. How brightly is your light shining? Can others see Christ in your actions? (NLT)
John 12:37-38 – But despite all the miraculous signs he had done, most of the people did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “Lord, who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power?”
* Turning discouragement into opportunity
Being imprisoned would cause many people to become bitter or to give up, but Paul saw it as one more opportunity to spread the Good News of Christ. Paul realized that his current circumstances weren’t as important as what he did with them. Turning a bad situation into a good one, he reached out to the Roman soldiers who made up the palace guard and encouraged those Christians who were afraid of persecution. We may not be in prison, but we still have plenty of opportunities to be discouraged–times of indecision, financial burdens, family conflict, church conflict, or the loss of our jobs. How we act in such situations will reflect what we believe. Like Paul, look for ways to demonstrate your faith even in bad situations. Whether or not the situation improves, your faith will grow stronger. (NLT)
Philippians 1:12-14 – And I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.
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