The story goes that the devil decided to retire (now, wouldn’t that be great news!), and he had a “Going Out Of Business Sale.” All of the tools of his trade were openly displayed and priced on row after row of tables. One tool, however, was set off to itself under a glass case. It was more worn than most of the other tools, and it was considerably more expensive. A small labeling card was set in front of it with one word printed thereon- DISCOURAGEMENT
When asked to explain why this one tool, with extra wear and tear, was so much more expensive than all the rest, the devil explained: The reason it’s so worn down is because I use it more than almost any other tool. It’s more expensive because it’s just about the most valuable tool I have. You see, discouragement can get into people’s hearts when almost nothing else can, and I can use it effectively on almost anyone. The really cool thing is, most people don’t even realize that it comes from me…
The strongest of people become discouraged from time to time. We sometimes refer to discouragement by different names- blues, blahs, apathy, being down in the dumps, common depression- but the effects are similar. Experiencing these kinds of temporary emotional setbacks seems to be part of the natural cycle of life. The key is that they’re temporary; we bounce back rather quickly and regain a more positive and productive perspective on life. When we stay discouraged, when we allow discouragement to cause us to give up, that’s when the devil has his way with us. The exception is a person who suffers from true, clinical depression, a physiological disorder that requires medical intervention.
Why do people get discouraged? All kinds of factors can contribute to discouragement- illness, physical problems, financial difficulties, relational problems, even the weather… But those are simply contributing factors, vehicles on which discouragement hitches a ride.
Perhaps the most fundamental reason why people become discouraged is their loss of focus. They lose sight of the big picture while they focus unduly on a particular problem. They zoom in on that one negative factor to such a degree that it crowds out all of the positives in their life. All they can see is that one problem, and in their skewed view of things it seems overwhelming. Their vision becomes so consumed with that one problem that they no longer see all of the good things in their life that far outweigh, when considered together, that one negative.
People make themselves most vulnerable to discouragement when they lose focus on God. At the core of being discouraged is the feeling that the situation is out of control, that you don’t have the ability to fix the problem. If the devil can keep you thinking that you’re on your own, that there’s nobody to help you, then he wins! But if you remember that God is there, that He cares and that nothing is impossible for Him (Lk. 1:37), then you can beat the devil. God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). God can see you through whatever problem with which you might be struggling. He can give you victory. Don’t lose focus, don’t allow the devil to beat you down through discouragement…
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Gary L. Hutchens