Embrace God's Word to Resist Discouragement
1. "I will find delight in your regulations. I will not forget your word" (Psalm 119:16, CJB). "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11, NLT). "I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart" (Psalm 40:8, NLT). "...Yeshua... looked up toward heaven and said, 'Father, ...the words you gave me I have given to [the people you gave me out of the world], and they have received them...'" (John 17:1, 6-8, CJB). And speaking directly to the men who would later lay the foundation for the Christian Church, Christ said: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7, NKJV, NLT). "Hear, oh heavens, as I speak! Listen, earth, to the words from my mouth" (Deuteronomy 32:1, CJB). "Therefore, you are to store up these words of mine in your heart and in all your being; tie them on your hand as a sign; put them at the front of a headband around your forehead" (Deuteronomy 11:18, CJB). Are you wrapped in the Word of God? Does it inform and guide your thinking and behaving? "If you love me, obey me..." (John 14:15, TLB). Obedience to God brings joy and delight instead of sadness and discouragement. "...Fill all who love you with your happiness" (Psalm 5:11, TLB), "and my soul shall be joyful in the Lord..." (Psalm 35:9).
2. Perilous is the way of all who neglect the holiness of character outlined in God's regulations. Jeremiah translated that neglect this way—"...they have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13, CJB). "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. 'Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words" (Jeremiah 19:15, NKJV). The words Christ shared with the Disciples more than 2,000 years ago are still relevant today—for either blessings of obedience or cursings of disobedience accompany them (Deuteronomy 28:1, 58-59). "But see here, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves from your own fires and not from God's; you will live among sorrows" (Isaiah 50:11, TLB). God's laws are inexorable. "The person who strays from the way of common sense will come to rest in the company of the dead" (Proverbs 21:16, CJB). In contrast, "How happy are those who observe His instruction, who seek Him wholeheartedly" (Psalm 119:2, CJB)! And to do that, you must "...treasure [His] word in [your] heart..." (Psalm 119:11, CJB)! For what benefit?
3. "Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling" (Psalm 119:105, TLB). When the Word of God has permanent residence in the mind, it is the antidote for discouragement. This is particularly relevant, in the context of "depression, ...a common disorder, affecting over 120 million people worldwide" (Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment). By God's sure Word, He fulfills a specific to you—"To all who mourn in Israel he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, [and] praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory" (Isaiah 61:3, TLB). Just as a pacemaker "treats arrhythmias—problems with the rate of rhythm of the heartbeat"—the Word of God is a mind regulator (Genesis 15:1-21, CJB, TLB). And when the mind is regulated, God "...keeps in perfect peace all who trust in [Him], all whose thoughts are fixed on [Him]" (Isaiah 26:3, NLT). "...Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls..." (Jeremiah 6:16, NLT). "Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, CJB). "Oh, the joys of those who... delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on His laws and thinking about ways to follow Him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper" (Psalm 1:1-3, TLB). Do God's words have that much power?
4. "...The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life" (John 6:63, CJB). For that reason, the Lord gave Joshua this command: "...Keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it..." (Joshua 1:8, CJB). The mind that is fortified by God's Word is not only encouraged and comforted, but also full of praise and hope. The Psalmist depicted a moment of praise in the following words: "Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times... when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise Him again. Yes, I shall again praise Him for His help" (Psalm 42:5, TLB). God's word reminds us of His majesty, His greatness, His faithfulness and much more; therefore, we can confidently proclaim: "The Lord is my strength, my song, and my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him. He is my father's God—I will exalt Him" (Exodus 15:2, TLB). When the word of God occupies the citadel of the amygdala, discouragement receives immediate eviction.
5. Hardships need not lead us to forget the "...more sure word..." (2 Peter 1:19) and capitulate into discouragement. Why is that? "May God, the source of hope, fill you completely with joy and shalom as you continue trusting, so that by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh—Holy Spirit—you may overflow with hope" (Romans 15:13, CJB). "...To those who, through the righteousness of our God and of our Deliverer Yeshua the Messiah, have been given the same kind of trust as ours, may grace and shalom be yours in full measure, as you come to a full knowledge of God and Yeshua our Lord. God's power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowing the One who called us to his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us valuable and superlatively great promises, so that through [the promises] you might come to share in God's nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world" (2 Peter 1:1-4, CJB). All this is made possible by God's Word (Deuteronomy 29:29). Therefore, we can expect God to "...keep in perfect peace, [all] whose mind is stayed on [Him]..." (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV). And since all we know about God has been made know to us by Jesus Christ, His Son, (Hebrews 1:1-2, TLB | John 17:4, 6), and which is documented in the Word of God (Luke 1:1-3, CJB). God's Word, therefore, is important for our encouragement and comfort. And together with His Word, we also need God's Holy Spirit to bring life to the Word within us in the same way that the "...man [God] formed... of dust of the ground [needed breath to]... become a living being" (Genesis 2:7, NKJV).
6. After Christ's resurrection, His replacement—the Holy Spirit—has a special role in comforting Christ's Disciples by confirming the revealed word (John 16:13, TLB). Hence, Christ gave the Disciples this assurance: "...The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). To help us grasp the importance of the Holy Spirit, let us borrow from physiology what we know about a special class of proteins called enzymes and examine their role in metabolism. Enzymes are catalysts, meaning, they start, slow down, speed up, or stop chemical reactions. Similarly, the embedded Word of God, in our minds, must be activated by the Holy Spirit, returning it to conscious memory for processing and decision-making. Because of this significant role of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said: "…If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13, NLT)? But if you ask, plan to do more than just asking for the “…Holy Spirit, ...is given by God to all who obey Him” (Acts 5:32, TLB).
7. The Holy Spirit has a special role in discouragement prevention. “…Christ… is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us…” (Romans 8:34, TLB). Before Christ took this office of Mediation, He, knowing that His time of departure was near, gave this assurance to the Disciples: "I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm… (John 14:18, TLB). "...I will never leave you. I will never desert you" (Hebrews 13:5, NIRV). There is no need to be intimate with discouragement, for that is one companion with which you are unequally yoked. Hence, Christ said: “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter, and He will never leave you” (John 14:16, TLB). “When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, He shall guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting His own ideas, but will be passing on to you what He has heard. He will tell you about the future” (John 16:13, TLB) so that you will neither “…get tired of doing what is right… [nor] get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9, TLB). In the gift of the Holy Spirit, God has already provided for every facet of our lives. Thus, though "we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are NOT crushed. We are perplexed, but NOT driven to despair. ...We get knocked down, but we are NOT destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies " (2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NLT). How then can you be in-Christ and be simultaneously discouraged?
8. By what means, therefore, do we live a life free of discouragement? When we walk in the Spirit, we can "set [our] affection on things above..." (Colossians 3:2,). The vertical focus is important, for it will take our gaze to the place where “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has shown it to us through His Spirit, …[who] understands… the deep things of God… [and] knows God’s thoughts. “…We have received the Spirit who is from God. The Spirit helps us understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 & 12, NIRV), which includes those things we see “…from a distance…” (Hebrews 11:13, NLT). With vision so formed, “[God] will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord” (Isaiah 26:3, TLB). With this heaven centered focus, our senses would have no time to perceive discouragement. So let us begin right now! “Think about things that are in heaven…” (Colossians 3:2, NIRV)! “…Think about what is lovely…” (Philippians 4:8, NIRV) such as the banquet that God is preparing for us (Isaiah 25:6-8, NIRV). Discouragement flees when the mind anchors in all of God's assurances.
Bro. Graham F. Watts, Sr.