by Jennie Smith
I wish I could say “Pleased to meet you”
But I’m not
You’ve knocked at my door
And I’ve looked you in the eye
Do I let you come in?
I’m thinking about it –
No enthusiasm or joy?
Fear tugging at each corner of my heart?
Loss of hope?
That’s who you are
And then I hear a whisper
“The waters will not sweep over you…
For I am the Lord, your Savior
And you belong to me.”
A wind comes from behind me
The door slams
And I see you no more.
Have you ever walked through such deep waters that discouragement threatens your well being? Most people who serve the Lord with their whole heart can relate and I am no different. I’m not a person who reaches discouragement easily, and, being an English teacher, I have to have an intellectual understanding of the word, including its full etymological meaning (much to the chagrin of my students). So when I was facing discouragement, I wanted to know all about it – what it truly was and how to battle it – and I was surprised by what I found!
When I looked up “discouraged” in my Bible concordance, I was shocked to find that over 50% of the references tied fear and discouragement together.
“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” ( Joshua 1:9). Throughout the book of Joshua, the leader of the Israelites reminds God’s people to not be afraid and not be discouraged.
“…This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s…” (2 Chronicles 20:17). This same idea is repeated in many passages throughout the Old Testament. God asks His people to not be afraid and not be discouraged.
In debate class, I teach students to research all sides of the issue – to know it backwards and forwards. So, I went in my concordance and looked up the opposite of discouragement and spent some time looking at “encouragement.” Do you know what I found? Encouragement and strength seemed tied together.
“But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see” (Deuteronomy 3:28).
“Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31).
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father….encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:17).
Times of discouragement seem to hit hardest when we are in the midst of a terrible battle. We could be fighting for our marriages, praying fervently for a family member who has not yet been saved, seeking financial stability, or battling a severe disease. It is at those times that we need the most strengthening. So where do we find encouragement? Seek out a friend. Listen to worship music. Read an excellent book. But always, always look to the Lord for the best encouragement and strengthening. After all, the battle is His! This is the passage that helped me shut the door on discouragement; may it encourage your heart today:
“But now this is what the Lord says –
he who created you, O Jacob
he who formed you, O Israel.
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior”