Text 1 Samuel 30 v 6 David found strength in the Lord his God
Having been a preacher now for well over half of my life it would be wonderful to stand before a congregation and say that one always preaches or lives life from the point of view of victory.
That would however be untrue.
The preacher, like the person who sits and listens to the congregation is open to the same temptations, trials ,and difficulties as anyone else as well as being able to experience the same joys, peace and blessing that others have.
The difference in the case of the preacher is that they stand before a congregation regularly and, with the aid of the scriptures, aim to make sense of the varied experiences of life by bringing to bear God’s revelation in the scriptures.
Tonight I am going to speak on the theme "Overcoming Discouragement" .
For lots of families in our church the year has started stressfully.
The number of people who have been bereaved is running into double figures. Others have been struggling to cope with their employment.Several who work with children have already been through the rigours of an Ofsted inspection. A number have long term health difficulties which are on going and from which, outside of a miracle, there is no easy answer. Some are trying to move house with all the uncertainties that brings. Several marriages seem to have hit stormy patches. I could go on - but that would add to discouragement and not help overcome it!
In the book "Problems of the Spirit Filled Life" William Deal states
"There is no such thing as an unemotional person. Everyone has emotions and everyone expresses emotions either in a quiet way, a more controlled and demonstrative manner or in an explosive manner. We cannot trust our feelings and yet so often Christians are prisoners of their own feelings and consequently can be very up and down."
If we are prisoners of our feelings as William Deal states then is there a way out of that prison? Can we hope for an early release? Who is the gaoler and can we get hold of the keys?
Discouragement is a feeling that comes upon many people at different times in their lives. discouragement is not a sin. It is not even a sign that you are in a place of sin. How we handle discouragement can affect our spiritual life and growth.
John Wesley in his famous sermon called "Satan’s Devices" states that
Satan has three main methods of discouraging the believer. He tries to
i) Damp our joy
ii) Attack our peace
iii) Targets us especially in times of sickness and pain.
Christian people often seem to experience a spiritual struggle when they are unwell when God seems distant to them and they walk by faith alone. That is why those in hospital, recovering from surgery or having on going outpatient treatment need our special prayers. We can be certain that they will often be going through a time of spiritual discouragement.
Some of our friends live daily with pain or disability. This prevents them doing all they would like to do in life and whilst they live courageously most of the time may well lead to seasons when they just resent their condition and long for a friendly, understanding word that says that you have noticed, even if nothing else changes.
Satan tries to bring discouragement upon us in order to bring us down and rob us of life and power. This is no new strategy for we find it way back in the pages of the old testament and also the account of how it is overcome.
1)The causes of discouragement
a) Severe loss
David arrived at his home in Ziglag to find it a scene of rubble and devastation. His family had been taken off into captivity. There was a loss of confidence in his leadership to the point where those who had been his closest companions spoke of stoning him.
b)Mental and physical strain
David’s body and mind were tired. His nerves were frayed. He felt "on edge"..Ö At such times as this vision becomes distorted and we do not see things in their true perspective. The best thing to do in such circumstances can sometimes be rest and bed....a short break in the daily routine.
c) David was alone
His friends seemed in the process of deserting him. These are some of the reasons why David was discouraged and in need of inner strengthening.
At other times in his life he suffered discouragement because he was not in fellowship with God. Sometimes we can be out of fellowship with God when we follow ways of our own. Living carelessly or backsliding will lead to deep discouragement in the Christian life. The Christian who has back slidden is probably one of the unhappiest people in the world for having tasted the grace and mercy of God they turn their backs deliberately away from it.