As a pastor, things happen every single day that can lead to discouragement. But discouragement is not reserved for church leaders. It rears its ugly head whether you are leading in your home… leading your children… leading a small group… leading at work… leading your friends.
When it comes to discouragement, there is a Scripture that God has been using in my life over the past couple weeks. And I believe He wants to use it in yours.
On August 8-9 I attended the Global Leadership Summit which is championed by Bill Hybels and the Willow Creek Association. We watched it live via satellite at Grace Community Church in Detroit.
During Session 1, Bill Hybels must have quoted this verse a dozen times: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9 NIV). In one hour, he read this verse word-for-word, again and again.
Then a few days later I picked up where I left off in Doing what Jesus Did by Robby Dawkins, a book I had been reading for the past couple weeks. Joshua 1:9 popped up again. Here is the excerpt from that book (which I paraphrased a bit):
Hudson Taylor faced incredible obstacles as one of the first missionaries to China. Obstacles that brought great discouragement. So much so, that in his memoirs he described lying in bed for months with terrible depression.
Everything changed for him when he realized that he was supposed to resist discouragement the same way we resist sin.
Discouragement is not a natural emotion we simply cycle through. It’s one of the only ones Scripture consistently commands us to resist: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).
With every battle you face, the biggest thing I would say is stick with it. Keep praying. Don’t give up. Continue to contend. You’ve got to make the commitment that you won’t get discouraged. (p.182)
When I read that excerpt, these words from Robby rang especially true: Discouragement is not a natural emotion we simply cycle through. It’s one of the only ones Scripture consistently commands us to resist.
I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now. Maybe you feel let down. Beat down. Misunderstood. Judged. Fearful. Frustrated. Betrayed. Angry. And some — or all — of these things has led you to feel discouraged. Your discouragement may not be making you bedridden like Hudson Taylor was. You might be functional in your discouragement. But just below the surface it’s there. And it hurts.
Why not take some time today to read and meditate on and pray through Joshua 1:9? Do it a dozen times, a hundred times if you have to. And may the truths found in that verse speak to your soul: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Why should we be strong? Why should we be courageous? Why shouldn’t we be afraid? Why shouldn’t we be discouraged? Because the Lord our God will be with us wherever we go.
***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. My sermon is titled “30 Pieces of Silver” as we do a deep dive into the fascinating story of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in Matthew 26:14-16. August 25. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***