Encouragement When It Seems Impossible

Jan Smith

I would have desapired, unless...

I would have desapired, unless...

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 nasb)

When you’re battling discouragment, it’s imperative that you know what the truth is. Knowing the truth will not solve your underlying problems, but knowing the truth will allow you to cope with life and have peace even in the midst of the “storm” you’re in .

First of all, understand that Satan and his demons are the instigators of things like despair, discouragment, disillusionment, confusion, doubt, worry, anxiety, fear, panic, etc. Do you remember how the Bible says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 timothy 1:7)? I underlined the words “spirit of fear” to highlight the fact that fear is a spiritual force from Satan, not from God. The same evil spirits that generate fear are behind all of those negative emotions.

In contrast, Jesus said over and over things like, “Peace be with you”, “be of good cheer”, “do not be afraid”, “let not your heart be troubled”, and so on.

He also said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Jesus said He gave you His peace. If you don’t have it, Satan has stolen it from you. But you can get it back.

We know from Scripture that our battles with Satan take place in our minds, and we win the battles with Scripture. The more Scripture you know, the better equipped you are to win.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus demonstrated for us how this works. Satan tempted Jesus, and he countered with Scripture. I have underlined the phrase “it is written” as used by Jesus:

3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “it is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘ He shall give His angels charge over you,’
and,
‘ In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’” 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
(Matthew 4:3-11)

Three temptations, three applications of Scripture. In so doing, Jesus showed us how we can also defeat Satan and his demons.

By the way, did you notice that the devil also quoted from the Scriptures? The demons know the Word of God backward and forward, and they probably go to church a lot more than many people do.

Jesus stressed many times how important it is to know His Word. Example:

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

It’s as straightforward as that. Dig into the Truth of God’s Word, and the Truth will make you free.

We can get a lot of insight into how to achieve spiritual freedom and regain the peace Jesus gave you by tapping into the wisdom of the apostle Paul. Anyone who could write such encouraging letters while being in such miserable circumstances as he was is someone worth studying. For instance, Paul wrote:

11 … for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.

In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret

of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

(Philippians 4:11-13)

Notice how Paul used the phrase, “I have learned” twice. Contentment was something Paul said he had to learn. It didn’t come maturally to him, and it doesn’t come maturally to us. It takes practice.

Paul even shows us how to practice:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Taking Thoughts Captive
Here’s more wisdom from Paul on how to obtain peace of mind. He has shown us how to block unwanted thoughts from entering your mind.
4 for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Notice the underlined words: “take every thought captive”. I’ve used that verse countless times to banish unwanted thoughts. It really works! The moment I realize an unwelcome thought has come into my mind, I instantly say to myself, “I am taking that thought captive”. I may repeat it a number of times. I begin to praise God for the power of His Word, for the fact that He is in charge, and for the fact that I am able to think and reason clearly.

Speaking of praise to God, that was something Paul did also. He praised God.

Imagine yourself in prison, awaiting a trial and almost certain severe punishment. What would you be doing? Panicking, right? Not Paul and Silas. They were singing hymns to God! Look at this:

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25)

It’s impossible to praise God and remain tied in knots of fear, worry, or despair at the same time. When you praise God, it’ll pull the joy right back into the center of your life. It really works. It’s like turning a light on in a dark room. The darkness vanishes instantly. Just as light banishes darkness, praise to God banishes fear, doubt, anxiety, et al.

Let’s let their practice give us a clue about how we can do our practice. Their response — singing praises to God instead of worrying — is an example of a recurring theme in the Bible. In adverse situations, God wants us to focus on Him, not on our problems. That’s exactly what Paul and Silas were doing.

Remember in Matthew 14 when Peter wanted to walk to Jesus on the water? He was actually doing it… until he took His eyes of Jesus and began to think about the storm raging around him.

And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30)

When he saw the wind, he wasn’t seeing Jesus. As a result, he was sunk. And so are we when we take our focus off of Jesus.

The answer has been with us for thousands of years. Hundrds of years before Christ was born, Isaiah wrote:

You will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.

(Isaiah 26:3)

Perfect Peace! You need it; God offers it. All you have to do is keep your mind on Him. It’s a skill you are never too old to learn.