Waves of discouragement often roll up on me unexpectedly and often without me even recognizing the discouragement for what it is until the waves have washed over my head. Such has been the case this past month. My initial battle plan to fight discouragement is to retreat or sometimes just dig in my heels and fight back in my strength at whatever the cost and with the wrong weapons. But God has a different way of fighting battles including the fight against discouragement.
After this, the Moabites and Ammonites, together with some of the Meunites, came to fight against Jehoshaphat…Jehoshaphat was afraid, and he resolved to seek the LORD. Then he proclaimed a fast for all Judah, who gathered to seek the LORD. They even came from all the cities of Judah to seek Him. 2 Chronicles 20:1, 3-4
Those times when everything and everyone around us gathers to fight against us, the flesh becomes discouraged and fearful. Thankfully, God has given us example after example through His word regarding how to rightfully respond to those times of discouragement and hopelessness. As seen in the above passage, our first response should be to seek the LORD. Also, instead of retreating to our “safe” zone, we should gather other believers around us and fast for wisdom and discernment in battling against discouragement or whatever fight we find ourselves.
Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the LORD’s temple before the new courtyard. He said:
Yahweh, the God of our ancestors, are You not the God who is in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can stand against You. Are You not our God who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and who gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend? They have lived in the land and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name and have said, “If disaster comes on us—word or judgment, pestilence or famine—we will stand before this temple and before You, for Your name is in this temple. We will cry out to You because of our distress, and You will hear and deliver. 2 Chronicles 20:5-9
When our souls are downcast, and everything appears to be against us, our hearts are seldom ready to praise God for the struggles. Charles Swindoll in the book, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind, also supports Jehoshaphat’s cry to the Lord. “In the midst of discouragement, it’s difficult to count your blessings. So, instead, create a list of God’s attributes from Scripture. Then, pray through the list, praising God for each attribute (20).” Jehoshaphat did not thank God for the armies that had come against him but instead called upon the character of the God He served as well as the remembrance of God’s past victories. Also, Jehoshaphat did not rely on his character and strength to fight against the enemy, but on the nature and strength of the God who dwelled inside the temple.
This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, go down against them. You will see them coming up the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel. You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you.’ 2 Chronicles 20:15-17
The LORD’s response is a little unconventional for most of us. First, it’s easy to believe the battle is ours and not God’s. Second, to be told to go down and face the enemy but not fight is absurd to our ears. But, God’s battle plan is usually unconventional, and when we fight against discouragement, we might find we have to go off roading.
In the morning they got up early and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were about to go out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Here me, Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem. Believe in Yahweh your God, and you will be established; believe in His prophets, and you will succeed.’ Then he consulted with the people and appointed some to sing for the LORD and some to praise the splendor of His holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing:
Give thanks to the LORD, for His faithful love endures forever.
The moment they began their shouts and praises, the LORD sent an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir who came to fight against Judah, and they were defeated. 2 Chronicles 20:20-22
I don’t know anything about off-roading but imagine it is way different than the smooth roads I travel regularly. Singing praises and shouting to the God of all creation seems rather unusual to me if I was going to war to face my enemy. And yet, Jehoshaphat and his army did not have to do anything but worship God, and God sent the ambush.
You might be wondering how Jehoshaphat’s victory has anything to do with battling discouragement. Let’s take a look at some of the principles we can glean from his battle and apply them to the fight against discouragement.
Seek the Lord
At the first sign of discouragement coming against us, we should seek the Lord. In seeking the Lord, it might also be wise to fast and seek others to join us in praying against the spirit of discouragement that has overcome us. (2 Chronicles 20:1, 3-4)
Call Upon God’s Character
Praying can also be a difficult thing when we are discouraged. Being thankful is not the first thing on our list. So, instead of giving thanks, may we call upon the name that is above all names as well as the character of who our God is. As we pray, we should claim ownership of our bodies as the temple of God created and dwells. (2 Chronicles 20:5-9)
After leaving our prayer closet, we are ready to do battle. As we go about our day and discouragement tries to bring us down, may we sing praises to God and worship the God whose faithful loves endures forever. (2 Chronicles 20:15-17; 20:20-22)
Father God, the God who sends ambushes so that your children do not have to fight, but instead praise Your name. Help us to not be discouraged or afraid to fight against a downcast spirit. Lift our spirits as we claim our bodies for Your dwelling place. The dwelling of the God who is All-powerful, All-knowing, Almighty, Healer, Protector, Defender, Shield, Refuge and our Encourager. Your faithful love endures forever. In Jesus Name, Amen.