Joshua 1:5-9 – “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you… Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is My command – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Don’t be Discouraged
We are sometimes too easily discouraged and too quick to give up. Things don’t immediately go the way we think they should and we begin to lose heart and lose hope. Sometimes we feel defeated before we’ve really begun and start to wonder if perhaps God has abandoned us. But He will not abandon us and He cannot fail us. With all the things He has promised us, we have every reason to be “strong and courageous” – to be bold, firm, steadfast, (and yes) patient. Why then are so many people, even believers, abandoning God-given dreams and not receiving God-breathed promises? Let’s take a look at four major factors:
What Steals Your Strength and Courage?
1. Difficulty and Opposition
a. Human Opposition – Perhaps there are people in your life who have turned their backs on you or have even turned against you. Jesus Himself had to suffer through this during His years of ministry. Scripture says, “even His brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:5)” and when His teaching got “too hard” for many people they, “turned back and would not go with Him any more (John 6:60&66)”.
Besides all of this, of course, there were the Pharisees who tried to kill Him (Luke 19:47, Mark 14:1, John 7:1 – and did in the end. See: Mark 14:55-65, 15:1-25) and there was Judas who betrayed Him (Mark 14:42-46). He was no stranger to human opposition and He Himself said, “if they persecuted Me they will persecute you too (John 15:20)”.
Opposition and abandonment are to be expected but God has promised us so many wonderful things. He says, “no one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you… I will not fail you or abandon you (Joshua 1:5)”, “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6)”, and “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)”
b. Difficult Circumstances – Maybe the problem is not with other people but difficult circumstances beyond our control. This can be even harder to deal with – human opposition can be confronted or ignored, but we can’t always do anything about what happens to us. It’s when we feel powerless in the face of opposing circumstances that we can quickly become discouraged and lose heart.
When this is happening, the first thing we must do is remember that Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)” Then we must “cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)”. We must determine to, “Not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. (Philippians 4:6)”
Then, we must remind ourselves every day if we have to that, “through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive the salvation ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise, glory, and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:5-7)” because, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)”, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)”
c. Spiritual Oppression – Besides human opposition and difficult circumstances, there is a very real enemy out there who does not want you to accomplish God’s will for your life and will do everything he can to oppress you and cause you to give up too soon. He is “the father of lies (John 8:44)” and will tell you plenty of them – through your own thoughts and the lips of others. He has come to “steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10)” in any way he can.
It’s more than a battle for your soul – it’s a war for your joy, your heart, your destiny, and purpose in life. The enemy will do his best to steal your joy, kill your heart, and destroy your destiny. Yet God not only has a plan for your life (see again Jeremiah 29:11 above), but God has a purpose to use each one of us in His Great Plan and the enemy will do all he can to keep us all from taking our place and playing our part.
Thank God for His Holy Spirit! Because of Him Scripture says, “you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)”, “because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world – our faith. So the one who conquers the world is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5)”. Because of our faith in Jesus we have His promise that, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)”, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity and fear, but the Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)”.
Therefore God says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7-8)”, “For God is at work in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him. (Philippians 2:13)”.
Because we have the Holy Spirit we can wage spiritual warfare for, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)” Thus we can (in our own life and helping others to do the same) throw down all the lies of the enemy and break off the chains of oppression for, “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17)”!