The first thing that grabbed my attention when I began exploring and reading on the topic of discouragement related to the word’s meaning and it’s relation to the great commandment. In the book, Real Solutions for Overcoming Discouragement, Rejection, and the Blues, Norman Wright gives the definition of discouragement. He states:
“Look at the word and take it apart. You find the word courage, with its root syllable cor. This is the Latin word for heart, which is the center of this condition. Discouragement is literally the loss of heart. When discouragement enters into our lives, hope exits. When discouragement gains a foothold, we are tempted to give up (7)”.
This has huge implications for the believer who is commanded to love the Lord our God with all our HEART, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27). No wonder Satan loves to bring discouragement. When we lose heart, we lose our love for God. He knows if he can move us to a position where we are unable to love God with all our HEART, then he can gain a foothold and tempt us even greater to give up and forsake our love for God.
Following graduation from college, I worked as an 8th grade school teacher and lived with a lady who always used to tell me whenever I felt like giving up: “This too shall pass.” She was reminding me to keep my hope in God and not to lose heart; to continue to love Him with my whole heart no matter the circumstances. In her wisdom, she knew that if I lost heart, I would allow a stronghold for other sins to take root. Charles Stanley in his book, A Touch of His Freedom states it this way:
“For many people discouragement is the first stage in a multitude of emotionally crippling disorders. For others it serves as the catalyst for their theological pilgrimage—a pilgrimage that more often than not leads them to conclusions contrary to that of Scripture (Stanley, 87).”
Using discouragement to gain a foothold, Satan can then propel his agenda to draw us further away from the God who is our encourager. Our discouragement often comes when we do not see results happen immediately and the way we believe our prayers should be answered. Our “give it to me now, the way I want it,” mentality loosens our minds for discouragement to creep in. And while we may call it discouragement, the reality is we have lost our whole-hearted love for God and replaced it with a love of self.
Consider these words from men of the Bible who held on to hope even in the midst of their extremely trying circumstances.
“Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him. I will still defend my ways before Him.” Job 13:15
“Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.” Isaiah 26:3
“For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Romans 8:38-39