I read a story once that says Satan once held a sale and offered all the tools of his trade to anyone who would pay the price. They were spread out on the table and each one was labeled – hatred, malice, envy, gossip, lust – all the weapons that everyone knows so well. However, off to one side lay a harmless looking instrument labeled DISCOURAGEMENT. It was old and worn looking but was priced far above the rest. When Satan was asked why this was, he replied, “Because I can use this one so much more easily than the others. No one knows that it belongs to me, so with it I can open doors that are bolted tightly against the others. Once I get inside, I can use any tool that suits me best.”
I wonder what heroic and inspiring accounts were never written because Satan effectively used his tool of discouragement? The Bible records many sad stories of people who lost heart and gave up. When Moses sent the spies into the Promised Land, all but Caleb and Joshua came back with discouraging news. The fearful saw the size and strength of their opponents rather than remembering the signs and strength of their God (Num. 13-14). Elijah did great things for God which resulted in the conversion of thousands of Israelites (1 Kings 18:1-40; 19:18); yet, he had become so discouraged when Jezebel threatened his life that he deceived himself into thinking that he was the only servant of God left (1 Kings 19:1-18). After Peter promised that he’d never leave Jesus’ side, he ran with the rest when the Lord was arrested, and a few minutes later become so afraid that he denied even knowing Christ (Matt. 26:31-75). He did so because he was discouraged after seeing the apparent lost cause his Lord’s ways had become upon his arrest.
We become discouraged when we make the same mistake that these guys made and start paying more attention to the obstacles than the opportunities. We become discouraged when we start believing Satan, “the father of lies” (John 8:44), instead of the Father “who cannot lie” (Tit. 1:2). And what has the God who cannot lie promised us? He has promised us that our work is not meaningless, so be steadfast and immovable (1 Cor. 15:58). He has promised us that our trials and hardships make us stronger if we allow them (James 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5). He has promised us that the hardships we endure seem painful right now, but they cause us to become more righteous later if we allow ourselves to be trained by them (Heb. 12:1-11). Do we believe his promises? Do we? Our actions always prove how strong our faith really is (James 2:14-26).
God can do great things with a heart that is his and a mind that believes it. Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who refused to be discouraged, went on to do great things for God and his people for years afterward. Elijah recovered from his discouragement and went on serving God, and as a result God brought him directly into heaven rather than allowing him to die. Fifty days after a discouraged Peter denied Christ, he converted thousands of people through courageous, strong preaching. All of these men faced what they thought were impossible situations. They had seen no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope whatsoever…but it turns out that they were wrong. Why? Because they forgot that God was with them (Phil. 4:13). Once they remembered that, look at the heights to which they climbed!
What heights can you reach with the help of God? What can God do with you? Does he have your heart and mind? Or is the devil having his way with you?
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Don’t allow Satan to discourage you, friends. “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed” (Heb. 12:12-13).