Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Discouragement: To deprive of courage or confidence, disheartened, to hinder by disfavoring, to dissuade or attempt to dissuade from doing something (excerpted from Mirriam-Webster Online).
“Joshua Altars”: places or situations in your life where God answered your prayers to now “revisit” in memory–or perhaps even in reality–as faith-builders for such a time as this, based on what the Lord told Joshua to do in Joshua 4:4-7:
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the [River] Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:4-7, emphasis added)
You may have noticed, lately, that people, both believers and non, seem to have come to a place of discouragement, profound discouragement even, in the global battle we face today, not a battle like Joshua’s amid the series of wars for the Promised Land in the verses above (read more here for the complete narrative) but one spanning the globe, ideological as well as theological, physical (both macro and micro) as well as spiritual.
Prophecy scholars would note that this hour in all of history even has the earmarks of a prelude to the Great Tribulation, a time a believer is well advised to “keep yer Jesus seatbelt tight around ya,” as I heard it put the other day.
Of the most discouraged, I would say, are those who have been sounding warning bells for a long time, laboring for decades, even, in the work of information and education pertaining to the spreading lawlessness, greed, lust, and power-mongering, and–as in no time prior–they are running up against people who have progressed from ignoring them, to calling them fools, to now wanting to label them “mentally ill ” and even contain them in “camps” if they still refuse to comply with certain mandates and ideologies.
The real engine behind this kind of deterioration of civilization, by the way, has no political, governmental, religious, or cultural affiliation (it only uses those constructs) but exists everywhere, as allowed by men and women whose Pied Piper, although they may not understand this yet, is really the ultimate “enemy of the people” behind the scenes whose real goal is not some evolved humanity but to “steal, kill, and destroy,” as Jesus described him in John 10:10.
But enough about all that recklessness and revolution and on to the greater power, the polar opposite of discouragement, you might put it.
In a word: faith.
And one way of getting from here to there.
RETREATING TO YOUR JOSHUA ALTARS
I believe that in this relative lull of a few more days, weeks, months–perhaps even years–before the the final stage of what some call a global coup explodes into its brutal end game (for the truth is always revealed), and in this time when discouragement weighs so heavily on so many, that by taking another kind of “retreat” (see last post), this one, a “walk amid” another aspect of God’s provision, i.e., answered prayers, will not only remind us of His love and faithfulness but also refresh, renew, and restore our spirits, minds, hearts–not to mention boost the immune system–for the days ahead.
For if what the prophecy scholars say comes to pass, it’s going to get worse before it gets better and we need all the reinforcements (physical and spiritual) we can get to help us remain faithful.
Even Jesus warned us:
“If the world hates you, [a]you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)
So let me encourage you to take a retreat for a spell, if only in the mind’s eye, back to the scene of some redemption, salvation, encouragement, comfort, healing, deliverance, correction, or any other event or way God has shown Himself to be your loving Abba Father in the recent or distant past.
Draw from them what you learned then, and how it may apply today, for “(s)urely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1).
And He knows that especially in the throes of evil, whenever, however–and through whomever–it manifests, we more than ever need the uplift, the strengthening, and the power of personal knowledge of How He has previously fulfilled His promises to us and that He will do so again.
Here are some reminders:
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
“I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” (Jeremiah 1:12)
“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)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Although such a time as we find ourselves in might have rough, rougher, even the roughest of, passages ahead, we can still dispel discouragement when we build faith in He Who has promised to “never leave nor forsake us.”
And I often think of this, too, with both curiosity and awe:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Free for downloading, here is a booklet of devotionals built on several real and somewhat incredible answers to prayers, and even more encouragement based on the all-time greatest “Psalm for hard times (91)” as my way of helping you to dispel the discouragement (and discouragers) today and ongoing: