Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you...
We spend a lot of time teaching on fear.
Teaching about 'fear not'.
There is great value in such teaching.
Fear can cripple, enslave, rob us of joy, shackle our lives.
We live in a chaotic world where, in the flesh, there is much to fear.
Learning to 'fear not' is a powerful spiritual discipline.
But Fear has a close relative, of sorts.
I'm not sure it's even as a close a kin as a first cousin.
Let's call it a second cousin once removed.
And that second cousin once removed is Discouragement.
We tend not to hear as much about him.
He's a little milder than his strong arm cousin Fear.
A bit more insidious.
A little more wily.
But very, very effective.
Discouragement is the official 'Meh' of the enemy's arsenal.
It makes things grayer, takes the shine off of possibility and hope.
It takes our vivid, contoured dreams and compresses them to flat postcards of places we think we'll never get to go.
Discouragement is the natural predator to Destiny.
Allowed to curl up long enough around our ankles, Discouragement can almost come to feel like a comfort. If we don't dream, we don't have expectation. If we don't have expectation, then expectation can't be dashed. And we allow the gray wool of Discouragement to remain wrapped up around our feet, never realizing that the protection it seems to offer still shackles our hearts as effectively as iron.
But there is an antidote.
If the cure for Fear is Trust, then the cure for Discouragement is to Believe.
Joshua was careful to infuse the antidote into the hearts of the Israelites as they faced a vast army. He told them not to fear but also to not be discouraged. Where fear can petrify, discouragement can shatter. The Hebrew for discouragement or dismay is chathah, carrying the connotation of breaking or cracking or waning in belief. In the Greek, discouragement is enkakein, meaning to be faint, to be weary, to fail in heart.
To effectively fight Discouragement, we must not let Belief break.
When the enemy says, "Give it up," Belief says, "Through Christ, you can stand." When Discouragement whispers, "It will never happen," Belief says, "You have purpose in the Kingdom." When Discouragement laments, "You don't want to get disappointed again," Belief says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength."
Be discouraged not.