Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God. William Ward.
The books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are the last three history books found in the Old Testament. These three books tell us what happened to the Jewish people after the Babylonian Captivity. Discouragement is not new to God’s people. Going from the mountaintop to the valley. I think of Elijah. From Mt. Carmel to underneath a little tree.
Over a thousand years ago, the nation of Israel was defeated, and taken into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar. They were dragged off to Babylon, where we learn in Jeremiah 29 they would have to live, dwell, raise their families for how many years? (70)
The 70 years did pass, and it would seem that this season of hardship was over. The prophet Daniel initiates a period of prayer and fasting in the life of Israel, and the Lord personally begins to work and move on their behalf. In fact, we can read in 2 Chronicles 36 that the Lord Himself comes to the King of Persia, King Cyrus, a Gentile, and directly appoints him to initiate the building of the temple in Jerusalem.
So Cyrus takes a national offering, restores the treasures that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Holy City, and issues a decree authorizing the people of God to return to Jerusalem.Then we come to the book of Ezra 4:4 which states, “Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building.”
Okay, check this out. These people begin talking into the ears of the Israelites. They write a letter to King Artaxerxes, who ends up issuing a letter demanding that the work on the temple stop. And look at verse 24 (read).
Scholars estimate that this work of restoring the temple stopped for almost 20 years. 20 years! And it was stopped in part because of blackmails, and false accusations, and political fear . . . but what are we told was the start of this downward spiral? “Then the people of the land. . .” What? “Discouraged the people of Judah.” Discouragement is an enemy that is powerful in its ability to paralyze us in our Christian walk towards. It is at times subtle. Often unforeseen. And if not discerned, crippling. So, by definition, what is discouragement? It is to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence; dishearten; dispirit; weaken. Most of our translations use the word weaken, or discouraged. And when we move it to our English language, and apply the word we think best describes what the original language was talking about, we end up with this word that has two parts to it. Dis, which is a prefix which means such things as the opposite of, or to deprive of or the exclusion or expelling of, and courage.
For someone to discourage you, is for someone to deprive you, to exclude you, to make you the opposite of someone with courage. Sounds about right, doesn’t it? How many of us are ready to conquer the world when we are discouraged? How many of us are ready to take on great challenges, scale new heights, launch new adventures, and build a temple for the Almighty God when you are discouraged? How many of us are ready to fight the enemy, battle the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional demons of our lives, when we are discouraged? And that is why discouragement is a powerful tool of the enemy in its ability to paralyze us in our Christian walk towards victory. Subtle, but powerful. And if not discerned, crippling.
How does this happen? How does discouragement enter into our lives and our spirit?It is really quite simple. Through our senses. This is how it works. Our senses receive negative information, our attention, our mind, our spirit turns its focus towards those negative pieces of data, and discouragement enters our life.
No matter what our position in life, we all encounter disappointment that can quickly lead to discouragement and paralysis. No one is immune. While everyone suffers in this way, some seem to be down and out much longer than others. It is important to realize discouragement is a choice. We can settle into disappointment and accept our discouragement, or we can look straight at it and consider our assets. Is there a broken temple needing repair in your life? He who is in you is greater than any obstacle hindering its repair.

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