A word to the discouraged

Numbers 6:22-27 “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.’  So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

One of the ways the devil tries to discourage believers – and YES, he IS busy trying to discourage us – is to breathe lies into our lives about our situation.  This is particularly true when we pass through the deep waters of one trial or another.  It is at these moments, when we are feeling vulnerable and discouraged, that he can, in a sense, jump on us with both feet to try and drive us even further down.  There are times when we’ve failed to serve the Lord as we know it, or  we’ve fallen to some temptation to sin, and then some difficulty comes into our lives (whether or not it’s even related to that failure), and the difficulty can loom larger and larger until the light of our Lord’s presence can seem to be blotted out. As we sit in those shadows, we can start to question our faith. We can wonder if we ever believed, for if we had, why would we have failed so miserably? Then we can start looking at our lives and Satan will help us to see all the negatives – for anyone who looks hard enough can find them.  There can come times when God’s promises of blessing, life, peace, and joy seem like they haven’t been true for us, adding more weight to the guilt that is being heaped on our head.  

But to this, God would have us remember and look back into our past with the light of His Word.  That’s one of the things that came to my mind as I read the passage above from Numbers 6.  Here, God instructed Moses to speak blessings into the lives of the nation of Israel as He was leading them in the wilderness. In spite of their many sinful failings and in spite of the negative consequences that so often resulted, the Lord would have them to know that His purpose for them and His actions toward them were meant to bless them in the end.  And as the Israelites heard these words of blessing one would hope their mind would have turned back to how God had graciously blessed them already, over and over again. He had rescued them from their slavery in Egypt and brought them safely across the Red Sea. He had brought water from a rock to quench their thirst and manna and quail from the sky to feed them. Later, after their 40 years of wandering, they would see that, miraculously, “their clothes (had) not worn out . . . and (their) sandals (had) not worn off (their) feet (Deuteronomy 29:5).”  Time after time, God had surely blessed them.  

And so it is with us who follow Him now.  If we are honest with ourselves, if we look at the truth of what God has done for us, we will see His hand of blessing in a thousand ways, no matter the troubles that we are facing right now.  We have had food to eat, water to drink, and a roof over our head. Many of us have been blessed with wonderful families, a beautiful location in which to live, and eyes and ears to experience the wonders of God’s creation that surround us.  We’ve had people come into our lives at just the right moment to encourage and help us. We’ve been given a means to make a living in what has been, for many of us, a career that we’ve enjoyed.  And God has given us friends.  

You see, the truth is, for the believer, in spite of the trials and in spite of the hardships that we’ve faced, in spite of our failures and sin, God has truly blessed us, if we would but stop and really think about it sometime.  And that is God’s ultimate will and purpose for us, no matter the lies that might be whispered in our ears to the contrary from time to time.  

So, what are you listening to today? Where are your thoughts focused?  Are they on the lies that God has forgotten you, that you are forsaken and surely cursed for what you have done, or are they on the truth of God’s Word and the reality of the blessings He has surely bestowed?  You can be sure if you are His child, that no matter how things may appear, God intends to bless you. May we continue to trust Him and obey.  

So, if you are discouraged with thoughts of despair closing in, trust the One Who will never forsake you, and listen to these words which He has said:  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13).”  Praise His glorious Name!

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