by Pastor Tim Burt
Life is full of wondrous and wonderful moments. Look through your old photo album or go back through the photo album of your mind and you’ll hopefully you will be able to recall some. I was blessed to experience one of those moments recently watching my newest grandson Harrison take his first steps. We were all gathered in a living room when he took of across the room! It was exciting and left everyone cheering and clapping. Probably insignificant to anyone else but us, but to us it was one of those momentous occasions to remember!
Unfortunately, life also has its catalog of disappointments. Who hasn’t had their share? You may have figured out that disappointment can evolve into discouragement. Disappointments come to us in a myriad of ways, but it is so very important not to let them fester and grow into discouragement! Why? Discouragement carries a paralyzing element that puts a choke hold on hope. It works to squeeze every last breath of hope from you with the ultimate goal of choking off faith. This is how and why most people backslide from God. They allow disappointment to become discouragement that chokes out your faith in God. They let their discouragement take them down a path they later regret.
Whenever I think about this subject, I am reminded of Joshua and Caleb, two men of great faith. They were two of ten leaders that were supposed to go spy out the Promised Land which God told them would become theirs. Joshua and Caleb’s faith in God was sincerely rooted in their heart. They weren’t cheerleaders for God that didn’t show up to the game on a rainy day. These two were warriors with rock solid faith. When you have that kind of relationship with God, the hands of discouragement can’t even fit around the throat of hope to choke it. That was them. These two were surrounded by fickle cheerleaders—supposed leaders that only ended up chanting fear and discouragement that spread to God’s people like a virus.
Numbers 13:17-20 Moses gave the leaders of Israel instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: "Go northward through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls or are they unprotected? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Enter the land boldly, and bring back samples of the crops you see." (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)
When they came back the leaders reported what an awesome land it was but they accompanied the report with fear—everything they also saw that freaked them out and were afraid of!
Numbers 13:27-28 & 31-33 This was their report to Moses: "We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit as proof. BUT the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large. We also saw the descendants of Anak (giants like Goliath) who are living there…the other men who had explored the land with him answered, "We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are!" So they spread discouraging reports about the land among the Israelites: "The land we explored will swallow up any who go to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that's what we looked like to them!"
Caleb did not respond that way. He was not discouraged by what he saw. He was not even disappointed. His and Joshua’s faith were not in what they could do in their own strength but what they could do because of their faith in what God promised them. Their voice and actions spoke the faith that was in their heart.
Numbers 13:30 & 14:5-9 But Caleb tried to encourage the people as they stood before Moses. "Let's go at once to take the land," he said. "We can certainly conquer it!"… "The land we explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey, and He will give it to us! Do not rebel against the Lord, and don't be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don't be afraid of them!"
The people yielded to the voices of fear, became paralyzed in their hearts, and their disappointment became discouragement, choking their faith. They never entered into the Promised Land. They never experienced the momentous occasion and memory God planned and promised to them. They forsook it because of the disappointment of the hurdles and their fears. Only Joshua and Caleb experienced it!
Don’t let disappointment fester in your heart. Definitely don’t let it turn to discouragement that would paralyze your faith. Know that somehow and in some way, God is always true to His word and will keep His promise to you. Remember the words of Joshua and Caleb and make them your own for every situation. "We can certainly conquer it!"
2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT) "For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt