“Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 1: 21
King James Version
“Dealing With the Daggers of Discouragement”
“When we yield to discouragement, it is usually because we give too much thought to the past and to the future.”
St. Therese of Lisieux
Is there an event in my life that has caused me to be discouraged?
How did I choose to handle the situation?
“Every thought, word and deed for Christ carries you away from discouragement.”
Theodore L. Cuyler
“And they journeyed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.”
Numbers 21: 4
King James Version
In college, I spent a great deal of time reading English literature for I deeply enjoyed the classes that plumbed the depths of love and hate, especially the plays written by William Shakespeare. This is where I first learned about the weapon called a dagger. A dagger is a Dacian knife that has a double-edged blade used for stabbing or thrusting. Daggers became effective tools for stabbing because they could easily be concealed and then used to surprise an unsuspecting victim.
While this isn’t a lesson on the use and function of daggers, discouragement in our lives, stabs our emotional and spiritual well-being, just like the blade of a dagger destroys our physical health. Discouragement may be partially concealed by the busyness of our daily lives and then one day, when we least expect it, the dagger of discouragement thrusts itself into our emotions and sends us into a pit of spiritual depression.
I’d like to take a moment to look at three daggers of discouragement and how they affect us:
Dagger #1: This dagger attacks our faith in God. As we found in the text today in Numbers 21: 4, God’s children became, “discouraged because of the way.” They didn’t believe God was leading them anymore. As they wandered in the wilderness, doubts began to creep in. Never mind that God had a cloud of His presence covering them day and night. Who cares that God had repeatedly told them, “I will not forsake you, neither destroy you, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers.” When things began to get stormy and ominous clouds were seen, God’s children fell prey to the dagger of discouragement. I love this advice from Raymond Edman. “Never doubt in the dark what God told you; in the light.” When the clouds of discouragement roll in and darkness settles around us, it is at that time when we must hold the tightest to the hand of our Father who continuously promises to never leave us or forsake us. In the words of David in Psalm 37: 28,(K.J.V.) “For the Lord… forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved for ever….”
Dagger #2: This dagger attacks our confidence in ourselves. Once we lose faith in our Father who is leading us, in no time, we find we don’t have a bit of confidence in ourselves. We begin to think we are failures. We say things like, ‘How can God do anything with me? I’m such a mess.” As Mary Bethune so correctly notes, “Neither God nor man can use a discouraged person.” However, at times when we feel incapable of handling all that life throws at us, if we will remember that God doesn’t forsake us, our confidence to move in the direction He leads will be strengthened beyond anything we can imagine. When I feel myself being stabbed by the dagger of discouragement, I go to Isaiah 55: 12, 13 (K.J.V.) for these words of encouragement: “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
These beautiful words are enough to not only fill my heart with faith in God but also to give me the confidence I need to walk in His way.
Dagger #3: This dagger attacks our ability to believe in others. One of the constant problems we find in the book of Numbers is that the people were often breaking into factions. Because they had lost faith in God and themselves, they soon had an inability to trust each other. The result was unending fighting and backbiting and whining. The dagger of discouragement did untold damage to the children of Israel’s relationships with each other. The disciple John wrote in 1 John 1: 7, (K.J.V.) “If we live in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” I love the way Jacob Boehme describes the interaction we may have with each other when we don’t let the dagger of discouragement damage our personal relationships, “We are all strings in the concert of His joy.”
Today, may we ask God to remove the daggers of discouragement from our lives and let the sunshine of His unfailing grace light our way.
“He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light; He can bring your summer out of winter, though you have no spring; though in the ways of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, you have been benighted until now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, dumped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to you, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon.”
“The praise of your salvation, O God,
has died on lips that are parched.
The story of your wonders towards us
has turned hollowed, bitter, and sour.
I doubt any prayer can enter your heart,
your ear is deaf to my cry.
Soul-deep I am full of troubles,
and my life draws near to the grave.
I totter on the edge of the abyss,
ghostly, ghastly, shriveled.
I am like the wounded in war that stagger;
like a corpse strewn out on the battlefield.
I belong no more to my people,
I am cut off from your presence, O God.
You have put me in the lowest of dungeons,
in a pit of scurrying rats.
To a wall that drips with water I am chained,
my feet sink into mud.
I feel nothing but a pounding in my head,
surges of pain overwhelm me.
I cannot endure this suffering,
this furious onslaught, so searing.
I can remember no time without terror,
without turmoil and trouble of mind.
I have been dying since the day of my birth:
O God, have I ever really existed?
I have never known who I am,
and even my friends who once loved me,
who gave me some sense of belonging,
have drawn back in horror and left me.
My sight fails me because of my trouble;
there is no light in the place of deep dark.
I am alone, bewildered, and lost;
yet I cannot abandon you, God.
Day and day I cry out to you,
early in the morning I pray in your absence.
Do you work wonders among the tomb?
Shall the dead rise up and praise you?
Will your loving kindness reach to the grave,
your faithfulness to the place of destruction?
Are the stories of old an illusion?
Will you again do what is right in the land?”
“In times of despair, O God, rain showers of gentleness upon us, that we may be kindly one to another and also to ourselves. Renew in us the spirit of hope. Even in the depths of the darkness, may we hear the approach of the One who harrows hell and greets even Judas with a kiss.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
(Available May, 2009)