2 Chronicles 32:7-8 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” NIV
Many of us struggle with discouragement. When we don’t see results or get that breakthrough that we want, we get discouraged and begin to feel defeated. “But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed” (Job 4:5).
If we are to be the person that God intends for us to be, we must learn to overcome discouragement for it is but the enemy’s strategy to keep us from pressing forward, from taking hold of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
In the Bible, we see God constantly reminding His people not to allow themselves to get discouraged. He knew that times of great challenge were ahead for them. Hostile kingdoms would come against them to stop them from entering the place of promise. He knew that demonic forces would try to seduce them or scare them away. He knew that weariness and human limitations would put a brake on their ability to accomplish great things.
God, in His wisdom, chose not to take the challenges away from them; instead He chose to help them to meet and overcome all the trials and challenges they would ever face. He would be with them; they would have to be strong, have faith, walk in obedience.
It’s very instructive that every time God told His people not to be afraid, not to be discouraged (the word implies a damaging and paralyzing sense of hopelessness, fear and defeat in the mind first and then affecting the heart), He always linked it to either His presence or His promise!
In Deuteronomy 1:21, for example, He said through Moses, “See, the Lord your God has given you the land [the promise]. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” In Joshua 1:9, He says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go [the presence].” And in Mark 6:51 Jesus told the disciples, “Take courage! It is I [the presence again]. Don’t be afraid.”
The message to us is that the way to overcome discouragement is to stay close to Him (the presence) and keep our minds focused on His word (the promise). Things might look bad but we do not lose courage. Our situation might seem hopeless but we do not lose faith. Instead, we strengthen ourselves with the knowledge of the presence of God and have faith in the promises of God. We rise up. We take a stand.
God does not ask us to pray for courage; He just says, “be strong, do not be afraid.” That means that strength and courage are choices we make. We can choose to be strong in the knowledge of His presence or we can choose to be weak in our faith. We can choose to trust that He will never fail us nor forsake us or we can allow doubt to fill our hearts. The choice is really ours to make.
Jude 20 says, “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith.” That means, you make the effort to build yourselves up in your faith! It means, you keep on reminding yourselves that He is always with you, that He is always faithful to you, that He always keeps His promises to you, that no matter what is going on around you, He is still in control. It means refusing to allow fear to flood your souls or lurk in the recesses of your minds. It means taking every thought that raises itself against the knowledge of Christ captive (i.e. thoughts that are contrary to what God has already spoken and is speaking to you, thoughts of doubt and unbelief, thoughts of defeat and hopelessness) and bringing it into alignment with the word of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). It means fighting back by speaking the word of God into every situation you face.
When the challenges come, when you are beginning to feel overwhelmed, when you are starting to get weary, you say to your soul, “I choose to be strong and courageous this day. I will not be afraid. I refuse to be discouraged because I know that my God is with me and He will not fail me nor forsake me. There is power from on high at work in my life. There is a greater power in me, and for me, than what is against me because the Lord God is with me. I cannot fail if I don’t give up. I’m pressing on. I’m pushing through. With God’s help, I can meet and overcome every challenge I face. My victory is assured! Praise God!”
This is the good fight of faith that we are called to fight, and win.