Have you ever thought you were having a bad day, or things were not going the way you planned? It seems like I have witnessed that a lot lately. The discouragement in people comes from all types of different things: relationships, family, church, friends, etc. You can define discouragement as: to deprive of courage or confidence; to make (someone) less determined, hopeful, or confident; to dissuade or attempt to dissuade from doing something. Discouragement can be a pretty harmful thing if left unattended. Not only can it be detrimental to whatever you are trying to do, but it becomes a poison that spreads to others.
In the Bible David definitely knew discouraging times. He spent many years moving from place to place running from Saul. In this story tucked away at the end of 1 Samuel David finds himself still running from King Saul. He runs outs of places to hide so he goes to live with the Philistines for a year. Now in chapter 29 the Philistines are about to go to war, and the King has asked David to join them. When they were about to leave some Philistines began to protest about David’s presence, and his loyalty. After much debate David was asked to return to Ziklag. So at first light David and his 600 men return to the camp.
30 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire 2 and taken captive the women and all[a] who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. 3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. 5 David's two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul,[b] each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Can you imagine as David and his men approach Ziklag, and they see the smoke coming from the city. I am sure they picked up their pace wondering what they would find. When they reached their destination every person they had known and loved was gone. These fierce warriors, who had gone to battle many times, were now reduced to tears. The Bible says they wept so much they ran out of tears. Their hearts had literally been ripped out; they were not discouraged they were distraught. They were in such pain and sorrow they began to lash out at David, blaming him and wanting to kill him. But don’t miss these words in verse 6 “But David found strength in the Lord his God”. As everything was falling apart around him, David found strength. He didn’t find it in others opinions, or their sympathy; he found it in the Lord. How many times do we discuss the problems we have with everyone but God? There are times there is absolutely no way to fix a problem except through prayer. We cannot change people, or the way they think, or the things they say and do, but we can choose how we respond. David could have been so discouraged that he did nothing, which would have resulted in a lot of people being left in captivity. David could have lashed out, or tried to place the blame somewhere else. However, David is a perfect model, in this situation, of what a great leader should do- He seeks God. He doesn’t react and shoot from the hip, instead he ask for specific guidance from the Lord. “Should I seek out this band? Shall I overtake them?” The Lord replies, “go after them, and you will over take them.” It’s interesting if you ask God specific questions, he often gives you specific answers. So why don’t we ask more specific questions, and expect an answer. I think it is because we have lost our faith. Sure we still believe in God, and that he sent his son to die for us; but we have lost the hope he gives us. I read today where someone said, “faith starts where your abilities stop”. The point is that we no longer depend on God to come through for us because we will only operate in box we know we can control. God does not ask us to control every little detail because as we try to control everything, he is pushed farther away, and we limit his ability to grow our faith.
In verse 16 the Egyptians slaves leads them down to where the captives are held, and David fights the enemy from dusk to evening of the next day. When all was said and done David and his men came back with every person unharmed, and a surplus of goods. The people were praising the Lord as they were returning.
What is the point of the story? To take back what the Lord has given us, and reclaim the attitude of victory and not defeat. The Bible tells us in John 10:10 we are to have abundant life. David and his men came to a point where they had to choose to get up and fight, or lay down in defeat. I believe it is Satan’s goal to keep us so discouraged, and disgruntled that we no longer want to fight. We had rather feel discouraged, and simply walk away. At some point we have to pick our self up from discouragement, and stop allowing Satan to rip us off. God can restore the fire in your soul, he can restore your marriage, he can cleanup your financial mess, he can heal your body, he can bring revival, and he can help you recover your faith, because he is God. No one else can do this. It doesn’t matter how many people we consult, they cannot change our hearts, or rid them of discouragement. In order to get out from under discouragement we have to find the faith that changes the way we live, talk, and feel. We have to truly believe once again that God can move mountains. We have to be willing to move into an area where we are operating in complete faith. He wants us to stop all the endless chatter, and enter into a time of prayer with him. After all, in the end it matters only what God wants us to do.
Are you discouraged today? Although discouragement can be a part of life, you don’t have to camp out there. Will you allow Satan to steel what is rightfully yours? Just like David if we seek God trusting him for an answer he will come through. James says, “5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. I challenge you today if you are discouraged that you ask God specifically what you can do to get out from under your discouragement. If you are discouraged with your church, what can YOU do to make it better! What attitude can you bring to encourage? If your marriage is failing what can YOU do to renew your vows! Does this mean it will change immediately, not always, but you will know you are doing your part in God’s master plan? Here is the key- you are praying for God to change you not everyone else around you! When you start asking God to change you, then you will influence others to get up and fight! It takes dedication and true godly repentance for God to answer prayers. Are you willing to be faithful enough for God to bring you through to the other side of discouragement?