Slaying the Giant of Discouragement
My mom had been begging me for months to help her find a short devotional, “with a few verses, short devotional, and some questions.” We looked everywhere, but we could just never commit to anything. We could find something wrong with every devotional we picked up, starting with the fact that many were very complicatedly written.
You see, I tell this story over and over again, God is just so good. My mom is a brain aneurysm and 2x stroke survivor. The miracle is that she is with us, she wasn’t supposed to live. Her chances of surviving just the surgery for the brain aneurysm was already low, and then you add in two major strokes on top of it? She’s a walking miracle!
So fast forward to October when God laid it on my heart to write this devotional. I started writing the Simply Being Thankful series with great excitement! I was so thankful that God had called me to write it. I was anxious to see the look of excitement on my mom’s face because then she could FINALLY connect with God through His Word. I mean, I blasted through all thirty days of writing and then the moment of truth came. Would she like it? Would she be able to understand it?
I spent many hours writing that devotional. Many hours praying for the right words and that God would have His way with each day in that devotional. And a few days after I emailed it off to my mom, I called to her to see how she liked it.
I so vividly remember her sitting there, holding my devotional in her hands, just weeping that she couldn’t understand it. I was broken. To say I was discouraged was such an understatement, in fact, I felt defeated. I asked my fellow blogging friends to pray because it simply didn’t make sense that God wouldn’t make a way for my mom to connect with Him. I didn’t care whether or not she would ever understand MY devotional, I just wanted SOME WAY for her to connect with Him.
A few weeks later, she called me to let me know that she absolutely loved the devotional and that she wanted me to keep on writing. God had worked a miracle in this situation and even these few months later, I’m still in such awe of all He did!
Read Daniel 6
Daniel’s story doesn’t speak clearly about discouragement, but as I was thinking and praying about this devotional, this was the story that I couldn’t leave alone. There is discouragement. If I transport myself into Daniel’s shoes, I know I’d feel pretty discouraged.
Daniel did everything right. He followed the Lord. He was a man of integrity. He was walking out God’s calling on his life in a way that, I’d say, he was rocking it. But then others took notice and devised a plan that landed Daniel in a pit with hungry lions.
Related Post: Where Will You Place Your Trust?
Whether or not we’ve ever been thrown into a pit with hungry lions, I’m sure we’ve all been through situations where we can’t help but think, “I did everything right! I shouldn’t be in this position!” It’s discouraging, to say the least.
Let’s take a moment and zoom into Daniel’s story to see what we can learn about discouragement:
When things are going well, the enemy notices. Zoom in to Daniel 6:3. Daniel was distinguished. An excellent spirit was in Him. The king had big plans to set Daniel over the whole kingdom. These are excellent things, right? How many times do excellent things usually make us a target? The enemy doesn’t want us to have excellent things. When he sees that we’re distinguished and God’s hand is on us, he’s usually looking for a way to break that. After all, our enemy isn’t one who encourages. He’s the one that steals, kills, and destroys. If he can cause us to doubt God, then he has done exactly what he intends.
The enemy looks for weakness. The enemy saw Daniel’s devotion and relationship with God and he saw it as a weakness. God’s people see that as a strength. After all, if we’re on God’s side, we’re on the side of victory. But still, the enemy saw that Daniel was devoted. He saw that Daniel was faithful and unrelenting in his pursuit of God. We’d call that strength and the enemy would call that a weakness to exploit.
In the face of discouragement, Daniel knew where to find encouragement. When Daniel had heard that the king had signed the injunction, he continued to pray and give thanks to God, just as he had always done. Remember when I said that the enemy saw Daniel’s relationship with God as a weakness? Daniel just couldn’t seem to imagine even thirty days without God. He couldn’t imagine God not being apart of his day or his life. So Daniel’s “weakness” became his greatest strength. Turning to God for his encouragement ended up being the very “tool” that would defeat the giant of discouragement.
Where discouragement focuses on what’s wrong, encouragement looks for the good. Genesis 50:20 reminds us that what our enemy might have meant evil against us, God can turn it around for good. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God will work all things for good. So when you find yourself discouraged, how can God use your situation or circumstance for good? When we look at Daniel, we see that Daniel’s God had made Himself known through Daniel’s loyalty and devotion. In fact, King Darius made a decree that people were to “tremble and fear before Daniel’s God.” (Daniel 6:26b) The Bible goes on to tell us that Daniel prospered during Darius’ reign.
Related Post: Slaying the Giant of Pride
So how do we defeat the giant of discouragement?
First, we look to God for encouragement. It’s easy to turn to a friend to be miserable with, forgetting encouragement entirely. It’s easy to escape in our favorite TV Show, book, or movie. It’s easy to go anywhere else but to God. But you know what, when we stop running and we turn to God, we’ll find that we’re encouraged. In fact, as we find that we’re encouraged, we’ll be kicking ourselves for not turning to God sooner!
Second, submit our discouragement and our situation to Him. How can God do anything with, through, or for our situation if we don’t first lay it at His feet? It’s easy to keep our hands on our situation, trying to change the circumstance with our own hands. Remember how King Darius did everything in his power to reverse Daniel’s situation? In the end, only God could make a difference in Daniel’s situation. Only God could preserve Daniel’s life. Remember that. Take your hands off of your situation and give God the freedom and authority to do as He pleases with your life.
Third, we look for the good. If God’s going to turn our situation around for good, we need to look for it, expect it, and be prepared for Him to do things with, through, and for our situation that we weren’t expecting. King Darius had run to the opening of the lion’s den with the expectation that God was powerful enough to preserve Daniel. When Daniel’s enemies looked at his impossible situation, they had resigned his situation to hopelessness. But in God there is hope. We can trust God to work out good in our situations!
When I think of my mom and the miracle God had worked through her situation, I can’t help but give Him praise. He was the only one who could make any difference in her understanding and her ability to break through and connect with Him. In her case, it was easy to take my hands off and lay the whole heartbreak, discouragement, and defeat at His feet. He was so faithful, friends. He was beyond faithful as He not only met her in a real and practical way, but He also encouraged me and others around her. His miracle was never JUST for my mom, but for all of us who needed that encouragement and who needed that breakthrough.
Watch, friends. Through your discouragement, watch how God will increase your faith. Watch how He leaves you in awe of His solution, His goodness, and His faithfulness!
Are you ready?