Discouragement is one of the most effective tools of our enemies and one of the most difficult problems to overcome.  Discouragement affects your attitude and, therefore, the people around you.  It stifles your motivation to do whatever you are attempting to do [dieting, maintaining your health, working, accomplishing a tough task, overcoming a problem in your life, strengthening your relationship to God, etc.].

If athletes become discouraged before the competition is over, they’ll lose.  If soldiers, pinned down in a firefight, become discouraged, they can give up before reinforcements can arrive to free them.  If Christians become discouraged they’ll give up on God before he accomplishes his will in their lives, like the Jews did in the wilderness.

So, what can we learn about discouragement from the Bible that will help us to recognize it when it comes and deal with it before it overwhelms us?

Discouragement often comes when facing overwhelming odds – Acts 27:20 Paul and the men onboard the ship had lost all hope that they would be saved.  The overwhelming adds against surviving Euroclydon had discouraged them to the point of giving up. 2 Ki 6:29-30 King Jehoram was so discouraged under the Syrian siege that he was ready to kill Elisha.

Discouragement often follows a great setback – 1 Sam 30:3-6 David’s men were so discouraged, after discovering that their families and possessions had been taken from Ziklag, that they wanted to kill him.  Ruth 1:19-21 Naomi was bitterly discouraged after her husband and sons-in-law had died in Moab.

Discouragement often follows a great work of God – Num 21:1-5 the destruction of the Canaanites was followed by the discouragement of the Jews in the wilderness.  1 Ki 18:39-40 and 1 Ki 19:4 the great demonstration of fire from God and the destruction of the 450 prophets of Baal was followed by Jeremiah’s discouragement; he wanted to die.  Jon 2:8-10, 3:10 and Jon 4:3 after Jonah’s “salvation” from the whale and the great response to his preaching in Nineveh, Jonah wanted to die.

How do you deal with discouragement when it comes?

Never quit trusting God – In many cases of discouragement, people give up on God or they get mad at God.  Naomi’s bitterness was toward God.  “For the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me,” she said [Ruth 1:20].  Job was so discouraged that he thought that God had become his enemy.  Jehoram was ready to kill Elisha because of his frustration toward God [2 Ki 6:31].  Trust God, instead.  Remember God’s promises.  The Jews were heading to the Promised Land.  Paul was heading to Rome and he made it.

Acknowledge the things that God is doing – Elijah suddenly forgot about the great fire from heaven, the response of Israel and the destruction of the 450 prophets of Baal.  Concentrate on the victories and on the good things God is doing in your life.  When the Jews started complaining again in the wilderness, they forgot about the destruction of the Canaanites.

Wait for God to work his plan – God was working a plan for Naomi that was better than bringing her own sons back.  Paul’s shipwreck resulted in the “salvation” of a ship full of prisoners and some folks on an island.  The Syrian retreat after the siege was the greatest economic turnaround that the King ever witnessed.  God has a plan but you need to give him time to work it out.  And you need to remember that others included in his plan might not be willing to cooperate [like a wayward child].

Encourage yourself in the Lord – David encouraged himself in the Lord at Ziklag.  He knew his men were upset with their loss and that’s why they were mad at him.  But he couldn’t change their feelings.  So, he encouraged himself in the Lord.  You can do that, too.  Just quit looking all the time at the problem that’s before you and start looking for God in prayer and in the Bible.  Like Paul said amid that terrible storm, “Be of good cheer: for I believe God [Acts 27:25].

Rest and recover – Jeremiah had outrun a chariot and killed all those prophets before his discouragement. He was exhausted.  He needed time to rest and recover.  When you are discouraged, often rest and recovery will encourage you.

Be thankful – a preacher once said, “The devil can’t sow seeds of discouragement in a grateful heart.”  If the seeds do get sown, they will never take root.

Conclusion: if you are discouraged, then you need to follow what these folks did and get back on your feet.  Others are being affected by your discouragement and you aren’t getting any better.  The altar is a good place to settle this with God tonight.