It comes upon all of us. Years ago I was having a conversation with my daughter and I needed to remind her of the fact that, like an ocean wave, these huge negative emotions we experience that threaten to engulf us, are relegated to the laws of nature. Like that wave, a huge emotion has no choice but to creep back into the ocean from whence it came. Though this sage advice is not much help when you are in the midst of it, it is curious to note how one day you can be overwhelmed and the next day not when no hard circumstance has changed. I have experienced that too many times to count.
Many people think that depression and discouragement are weapons of the enemy…and they are. I believe that too. I also believe God allows these experiences to sharpen our focus and address wrong thinking. Perhaps, in His mercy, he allows us to see where our broken thinking leads without actually physically letting us go there. All I know is that no one is immune to it. We all go through periods of sadness and periods of deep discouragement. If God permits this then what can we learn from it?
Yes, discouragement is a powerful force, but it is only a mighty gust at best, incapable of sustaining itself. Our thoughts, our thinking, the beliefs we cling to either perpetuate the discouragement or vanquish it. This is why our thinking is our most powerful ally, or our most effective enemy. In the midst of trials we can feel blown apart as all the work we’ve done seems to add up to nothing. So we must ask ourselves, “if God purposed this, what could be the purpose?” When we are blown apart, perhaps if we are fortunate, it may just blow the lid off of something sealed tight in our hearts. And if we examine our hearts, taking our pain into prayer, trusting in Truth and not in emotions, we may find that all along His intention was to reveal our unacknowledged sin.
Just months after the passing of David Wilkerson, I received one of his daily devotions from David Wilkerson Ministries. The topic was the root of fear. Here it is in its entirety. I want you to read it and see if you see the correlation to discouragement:
David Wilkerson Today from November 29, 2011
THE ROOT OF FEAR
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
“If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away,
And would not let wickedness dwell in your tents;
Then surely you could lift up your face without spot;
Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear” (Job 11:14-15).
All fear can be traced
To a spot
Of sin and secret iniquity
Harbored in a man’s heart.
He has the power in his hand
To put it away.
Despising the riches of God’s grace,
His . . . forbearance and longsuffering,
He continues in his evil way,
Allowing in his own life
What he condemns in others,
Becoming a law unto himself.
He seeks to be God’s favored exception
To escape wrath and tribulation.
But God is no respecter of persons,
Judging all alike,
Promising glory, honor and peace
To those who put evil away.
And then he shall lift up his face without spot.
He shall be steadfast
And shall not fear,
For only where sin lies at the door
Is man afraid.
Wow! Nothing is easy in this, especially if it reveals sin in our heart, but be blessed because revealed sin is the precursor of true repentance. If ‘to repent’ means to turn away from, how can we turn away from something we neither see nor believe is at work in us? Enlightenment comes with a cost. Through humility (what we bring) and through grace (what God brings), we can experience an exchange rate that is unparalleled anywhere else on the face of the earth. As the prophet Isaiah tells us in 61:3, “He gives us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”