Even Great Men Face Discouragement!

Even Great Men Face Discouragement!

“Many years ago a young Midwestern lawyer suffered such deep depression that his friends thought it wise to keep all knives and razors from him. During this time he wrote, “I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I awfully afraid I shall not.” He was wrong. He did recover and went on to become one of America’s most-loved presidents, Abraham Lincoln.” [1]

Abe Lincoln faced many hardships throughout his life. As a politician and leader, He faced bitter opposition in numerous camps. As issues heated up in the political arena where he was destined to lead, he became acquainted with failure, abandonment of friends, slander, deception, and finally, assassination. Many stories have circulated about Lincoln’s bouts with discouragement and depression, but it seems that he rose above them many times, by the written and verbal encouragements of those who loved and admired him.

Hi there! Thank you for finding your way to my blog.
Today’s post is on the topic of ‘discouragement’ and its effect in our lives.

The topic of discouragement is . . .well. . .discouraging! I really had a hard time putting this one together–because naturally, when one writes authentically–one’s own experiences  with the topic at hand resurfaces. Many times this causes the writer pain and even sorrow–again.

So it was with me! As I started writing my first drafts of this article–memories of a recent discouragement flooded my emotions and I nearly took a rabbit trail–telling you all about my misery.  You’ll be glad to know that I caught myself mid-sentence, and thank God for the back-space key! I decided to push through those old, negative feelings, (and memories that caused them), and get to the other side of discouragement--that of healing; being refreshed by the encouragement that comes from good and loyal friends; the renewed hope that comes as a result of that kind of encouragement.

Pastor Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church, boldly states,  “Discouragement is a disease unique to human beings, and it’s universal — eventually everyone gets it, including those in ministry. I have no doubt you’ve experienced discouragement at times, maybe many times. You might even be discouraged at this very moment–” (in his article, Some Cures for Discouragement.)

Certainly, though you may not be discouraged, you have felt the  sting of disappointment. Yes! Even great men face discouragement–even those who appear  to be on a pinnacle of spirituality.

The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.”―Billy Graham

When was the last time you have been hit with a wave of discouragement? Did it polarize you—making it nearly impossible to move forward in your life—on any plane? Did it lead you down a trail of dark thinking? Did it make you wish you were not even born? Well–I’ve been there–and thank God–my journeys on that road have never lasted long–but long enough, nonetheless.

Discouragement can afflict any of us!  No one is immune. Even those among us whom we deem “the greats”–have suffered from it. Christian or non-Christian–it hits at a moment when we least expect it. Discouragement dampens the soul, quenches our emotional stamina and causes the strongest among us, at times, to reach a point of despair. It is an effective tool in the hands of the enemy of our soul–Satan.

A shocking realization!

To illustrate just how effective discouragement is for the Devil and his work on earth–join me on an imaginary journey.

You strike out early one Saturday morning, cruising the neighborhoods for garage sales. Your goal is to hit a few local sales with some friends; laugh a lot, pick up a few good buys, and top it off mid-morning with a good cup of Java and late breakfast at your favorite breakfast place. What fun!

After hitting a few duds, (those sales where nothing appealed to any of you), you find yourself cruising slowly through yet another neighborhood—this one, a little nicer than the past two. Suddenly you see the strangest sign. It reads:

“A ‘DEVIL’ OF A SALE—THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD IS SELLING HIS TOOLS TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER—LIMITED SUPPLY—TODAY ONLY.”

The devil has decided to have a garage sale on this very day! And he has chosen this house. As you drive by, you peer with interest at his tools, which are placed on a dirty, oil-smudged canvas laid over the unkempt, grass lawn. Your friends agree that this could be interesting, so you pull up to the curb and hop out of the car, eager to find a bargain.

Since you are among the earliest “early-birds” you eagerly stoop down to examine a tool. Glimpsing the tag, you see it is labeled “hatred”. Dropping it quickly you pick up the one next to it. It has an interesting shape, but oddly enough you feel a strange sensation rush from your fingertips right up to your scalp, leaving a prickly feeling at the root of your hair. You look for the label and find that this one is envy. Replacing it, you move along to the next tool, deceit. You don’t pick it up! Instead you keep moving along, looking now without touching. You read the labels; lust, lying, pride, dissention, malice, bitterness and so on.

Then you see it. Set apart from all the rest—it appears to be a harmless-looking tool—at first–not nearly as interesting as some you just passed. Quite worn, yet it is priced very high.

“What is the name of this tool?” asks one of the other customers, pointing to it.

“That is discouragement,” replied the strange looking man presiding over this sale. Could this really be ‘the devil’? You wonder.

“Why have you priced it so high?” the customer asked.

“Because it is more useful to me than all the others!”

With a ghoulish smirk, he continues. “I can use that tool to pry open a man’s heart. Even when I cannot get near him with envy, jealousy or lust, I can slip in quietly and open his heart and mind with discouragement. It is so worn because I use it on almost everyone. Very few people know it belongs to me.”

His chuckle chills your heart and  is not contagious. Gaping at Discouragement–you suddenly come to and look at your friends, hoping they are ready to leave this place. You’ve had enough!

They too, are staring wide-eyed at the tool that has done so much damage in their lives, and in the lives of those dearest and nearest to them. Quickly you all agree to leave this weird garage sale. As you each walk towards the car you hear the man quoting the devil’s price for his tool, discouragement. You wince. The price is high, way too high.

That’s when the realization hits you! He really doesn’t care if he sells it at all because it’s his favorite tool. He’s still using it on God’s people—even today![2]

Discouragement is often Satan’s best tool!

This  fictional vignette poignantly  illustrates how Satan uses his special tools to get at ones like you and me, to hinder and harass us, even to defeat us. Discouragement is often the best tool of all to keep us from doing God’s will–from moving forward in our marriages, our jobs, our lives.

Once started, discouragement keeps us from living abundantly and joyfully! It worms its way into the deepest parts of our soul. This tool since the beginning of time, and he has put many people out of the race simply because they fall prey to discouragement.

How does discouragement get a holding in our life? It starts with something small initially, and once in, it spreads. I call this progression, (for it is a series of things) Satan’s Dirty “D’s.”

Discouragement often begins with a disappointment, small or large–it doesn’t seem to matter–because ‘disappointment’ progresses very quickly into ‘disillusionment’, then into ‘depression’ and ‘despair.’ Finally–if we haven’t licked it by then–it can end up causing us the final blow of ‘defeat.’

Defeat means “to win victory over.” When a Christian has reached the point of despair, Satan has defeated them. He has won the victory.

Below is a poem I wrote at a time when I was attacked by the enemy. –I call it Ambushed! Satan knows  how to use discouragement to ambush our life. And by nature, an ‘ambush’ is a  surprise!

I hope this poem resonates with you. In my next post–I will be discussing Satan’s Dirty “D’s” further–pointing out some ways we can overcome discouragement. I promise it will end on a positive note–that of being ‘refreshed’ through encouragement!

Blessings till I see you next.
Linda

Ambushed! A Poem

Unsuspecting, it hits us without warning.

Emotions fly and words, like well-aimed missiles, hit their mark.

The Enemy does his work on our minds, our hearts. . .

In retreat we scatter.

Like soldiers wounded, we crouch in shock.

The broken pieces of our lives surround us like the shards and debris after a battle.

It happened so fast! Stunned we wait in silence.

How quiet it is after the battle.

Ambushed! That’s what happened!

From safe places we replay in our heads what went wrong.

We count our losses. We bind our wounds—wounds left behind–

Gaping at us—gloating in victory.

We grieve.

How could this have happened?

The Enemy has won more than a skirmish.

Discouragement sets in—like gangrene eating our emotional flesh. We feel like giving up.

The downhill spiral has begun—disillusionment, depression, despair and finally—defeat.

Can we ever regain what has been lost?

 

Ambushed, A Poem: Copyright © 2010 Linda Bridges. All Rights Reserved

This article is adapted from an excerpt from: A Letter of Encouragement: A Study of 2 Timothy, by Linda K. Bridges ©2004(Unpublished))

[1][1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations: [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2] Adapted from Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, edited by Michael P. Green; topic: Discouragement, p.110

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