..the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.Numbers 21:4c
Discouragement happens to everyone. Even the most mature of Bible saints faced things that took the wind out of their sails and caused their faith to falter.
Discouragement happens. I’ve been discouraged by:
- long-time saints falling into heretical teachings
- people who claim to love Jesus heading off on a path of pleasure
- career doors slammed in my face
- ministry carpets pulled from beneath my feet.
In fact, I’ve been much discouraged because of the way things are going in my life. Or the way people wronged me. And even over the way God failed to answer my prayers when I was sold out for him and his kingdom.
I don’t believe discouragement is a sin. It’s a sign we need to lean into God and his truth. We need to get our focus back on Jesus because with our eyes on him, the rest of the world fades until all we can see is his plan for our here and now.
Take a moment to flip over to Number 21. Let’s notice how Israel’s discouragement defeated them.
- They were “much discouraged” because the physical journey was difficult. Life can be a huge downer. If we stay focused on how hard things are, we can be sure discouragement will come.
- They spoke against God (Numbers 21:5). Well, it’s okay to tell God we’re mad at him, but if we start defaming him to others, we can be sure things are going to get worse for us – not better.
- They spoke against Moses (Numbers 21:5). Our pastor and leaders are placed in their positions by the Lord. Even if we imagine we could do a better job, we should be careful before we start dissing people in respected positions. God sees it as speaking against him.
- The Lord sent pain and death among the complainers (Numbers 21:6). Yes, things really can get worse.
- The people went to their leader and asked him to pray for them (Numbers 21:7). This was the same guy they railed on and complained about a couple verses earlier. How eager do you think he was to help them?
- The godly leader prayed for them. That’s what our pastors and leaders do. Rather than reacting negatively toward us, they pray for us. Maybe that’s why God placed them there rather than us—the ones who tend to complain and groan first — and pray later.
- God made a way for healing (Numbers 21:8-9). Jesus referred to this story when he met with Nicodemus (See John 3:14-15).
If you’re feeling discouraged, skip from step one to step seven. We don’t have to slide down the progression of murmuring and complaining into destruction.
If you’re discouraged today, pray. Or ask your pastor to pray for and with you.
God wants to hear from you. He cares that things are hard, and he’s got a reason for taking us through those difficult paths.
We’ll probably never know the why of the hard path that discourages us, but we don’t have to let discouragement defeat us. We’ve always got the shepherd walking the path with us.
…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…thou art with mePsalm 23:4