SCRIPTURE: “Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” (Psalm 4:8)
How did Martin Luther King Jr. handle discouragement?
MLK is admired for his strong passion for the Lord’s vision of racial equality and justice for all. But he must have faced a lot of discouragement. He was attacked by many, and even felt the pressure of his own supporters.
I know that if I were him, I would have really struggled with discouragement. How about you?
David deals with voices of discouragement.
We don’t know the story behind Psalm 4. But we do know the story of his life: chosen by God to lead Israel, he was under attack often from the nations around him. He also faced pressures within, and times when it felt like he was going to lose.
In this Psalm David deals with two kinds of discouragement. (1) In vv.2-5 he is responding to those who mock his calling and confidence in God. (2) In vv.6-7 he is responding to his own supporters that are doubting their chances of success. David responds by looking to God for help, and by telling those discouraging voices that God is with him, He will protect and prosper them!
Every Jesus follower will be challenged by discouragement.
Like David, Jesus also faced these voices of discouragement. Not only did His opponents resist and mock Him, but His own followers were doubtful, and said and did things to discourage Jesus. Behind all these voices of discouragement was Satan, the father of lies. When Peter tried to discourage Jesus from pursuing the path to the cross, Jesus responded by rebuking Satan, not Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23)
Tell Satan to get behind you, because the only one you want to follow is Jesus!
Like David, Jesus responds to discouraging voices by putting them in their place, by declaring the truth against their lies. Jesus refused Satan’s lies to the cross, and overcame him with the truth. Because Jesus beat Satan, we will too – with Jesus’ help! Jesus made it clear to His disciples that they would face the same discouragements as they tried to follow Him. But He also assured them that He had overcome the enemy, and they would too! “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus victory is our victory!
We can fight discouragement by refusing Satan’s lies and reaffirming God’s truth!
If you are committed to following Jesus, Satan will do whatever he can to discourage and defeat you. No doubt you have already faced resistance to your determination to live with, like and for Jesus. And this resistance is especially hard when it comes from people we know and love. David and Jesus show us how to refuse Satan’s lies by declaring God’s truth.
Unfortunately many believers focus on the negatives, and end up being discouraged. If focusing on the negatives discourages us, then focusing on the positives will encourage us. If expressing our doubts drags us down, then expressing our hopes will lift us up. Like MLK, we need to keep feeding the vision – ‘I have a dream…’ – and keep moving towards it.
We can fight discouragement by surrounding ourselves with encouraging people!
As Jesus followers we regularly meet together to inspire and encourage each other to stay strong, to not give up. David wrote this song to inspire other believers when they faced discouragement. And 3000 years later he is still encouraging us.
Jesus followers are urged to keep meeting together for encouragement: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) Through being together, through sharing words and stories of hope, through singing songs of hope, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Resisting the devil’s lies together by focusing on and declaring God’s truth together!
How is Satan discouraging you, and how are you responding?
I feel Satan’s discouragement often. Negative thoughts in my head, negative voices or experiences in my life. All of them trying to hold me back from my devotion to Jesus and His kingdom. I have also heard from many Jesus followers how they too are constantly battle discouraging voices or experiences. And sadly, many Jesus followers have giving in to them, letting those discouragements hold them back.
Every day things happen to encourage me.
Every day things happen to discourage me.
Which ones do I focus on?
Don’t give in, don’t give up. Satan is a jerk, and everything he says is a lie. Don’t believe the doubts, don’t make them stronger by repeating them, don’t let Satan win. Look up to Jesus, declare His victory and your strength in Him. And tell Satan to get behind you, because the only one you want to follow is Jesus! “Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” (Psalm 4:8)
Lord, help me to listen to Your Voice, and not to Satan’s lies. Give me courage to keep on following You, even when I face discouragement! Get behind me Satan, I want to follow Jesus! Amen!