Practically speaking, discouragement might be described as a "black cloud" of unknown origin. Sometimes, seemingly driven by weariness; other times by what appears to be health issues or inter-personal conflicts. Additionally, there will be an absence of that sweet peace that God has promised to His children, who keep their minds on Him.
Is there a deeper issue than weariness, health, or conflicts when I experience that "black cloud" of discouragement? When I hear the psalmist ask the same question that I ask, in Psalm 43:5, what is his clear and precise answer to his own question? It is simply "Hope in God". That internal heart response will be externally revealed by verbal praise and a countenance of peaceful encouragement. So, what is my problem when I am discouraged? In what ways should I deal with it, in order to please God?
I know that any violation of God's heart, mind, will and purpose places me in a compromised state of fellowship with the God of my salvation. When my focus on thoughts, actions or words is on any desire than that which pleases God, I can anticipate a cessation of that perfect peace that only intimacy with God can provide. As I examine myself, I am asking God to show me any attitude, behavior or communication that violates or stands in practical opposition to Christlikeness. Once any identified flesh characteristic is confessed, and replaced with that of the Spirit, discouragement is instantaneously displaced by the secure hope in God, joy of countenance, and a spirit of contentment with the plan of the all-wise, perfect, Sovereign Lord for me.
After all is said and done, in the midst of life problems and all that this temporary dwelling place affords, Nehemiah is such an encouragement, in Nehemiah 8:10, when he said "the joy of the Lord is my strength"!
(C) 2013 N.A. Collins
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