Webster defines discouragement as the state of being disheartened or dispirited, not having courage or hope. The word is synonymous with depression, dejection, and hopelessness.

In the Hebrew, the word discourage (qâtsar) basically means ‘short’ and it’s used figuratively to denote being short of courage, patience, or endurance. The idea here in Numbers is one of utter discouragement: the people did not like the way. They were worn out. They had reached the limits of their endurance.


Why did the people become discouraged? They became discouraged because of the way: And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way, Numbers 21:4. They had to go around the land of Edom. The way was long and the land was arid. They didn’t like the inconvenience the Edomites  put them through. So they became discouraged.

It’s not different for us today. Like the Israelites, we become discouraged because of the way. We don’t like the way things are going. We don’t like the trials we’re in. We don’t like what’s happening to us. Things aren’t going the way we want them to go. Our prayers aren’t getting answered fast enough. If at all. We’re tired of the inconveniences and frustrations that are all too common in the way. The journey’s too hard. The way is too narrow. God’s got too many laws or requirements: His standards and demands are just too lofty, too idealistic, no one can live it. There’s so much opposition to us–and it’s even coming from our relatives, our brethren–the Edomites. It’s getting too lonely. We’ve lost too many of the brethren. We’ve got no friends.  The manna we’re getting every day or every week is supernatural, fresh from Heaven. But we’re used to it. We’ve had so much of it that we’ve come to despise it. It’s getting old. We’re tired of the same old manna, the same old message, the same old Word. We want something different. Something easier. Something less convicting or demanding. We’ve walked enough! We’ve suffered enough! We’ve had enough! We’re discouraged because of the way. And as a result, we find fault with God.

The cause of discouragement is painfully simple: it’s Self. We’re discouraged because things aren’t going our way: they aren’t going the way we would like for them to go. The Lord isn’t doing it the way we want Him to do it: the preacher isn’t preaching what we want him to preach; the message and walk aren’t what we want them to be. We’re not getting our way; we’re not having it our way. And because we’re not dying out to our own way, problems arise. Brethren, the Lord is talking to us in this hour about the need for us to die out to our own way. Have we gotten the message yet? Are we dying out yet? If not, then that’s the reason why we’re discouraged.


It’s easy to become discouraged, especially when there are so many discouraging things going on and too many discouraging things happening. And while it’s easy to give in to discouragement, seldom, if ever, do we take the time to consider beforehand what happens to us when we become discouraged.

If people knew there was a bomb in the plane, they wouldn’t fly that plane. If they knew a barge had damaged the bridge, they wouldn’t drive over that bridge. If they knew the salesman was dishonest, they wouldn’t have done business with him.  Do you see what I mean? Knowledge of danger or wrong keeps us from plunging headlong into trouble.

And by the same token, it’s easy to rush into something when we don’t know what lies ahead and don’t see the dangers involved. Brethren, discouragement has its dangers. There are risks involved when we give in to discouragement. And if we had the foresight, I would like to believe we’d think twice and not be too quick about giving in to discouragement. So what happens when we become discouraged?

1. DISCOURAGEMENT WEAKENS US.  One of the most harmful things discouragement does to us is it weakens us. Discouragement affects our spirit. It controls our spirit. Hence, it affects and controls our whole outlook on life: it affects and controls our attitudes and the way we respond to life’s problems or situations. Like a serpent coiled about its victim, discouragement saps all the life, joy, hope, and enthusiasm out of us. It drains us of all our spiritual energies. It weakens us. It causes us to become weary and tired. It robs us of the strength, motivation, or willingness to endure the trial, fight the war, run the race, and finish it.

Beloved, spiritual weariness is Satan’s tactic of the hour. It’s what he’s doing most against those of us who have committed ourselves to the Lord. Do you know why Satan’s fighting hard to discourage us? Because when a person is tired, he doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t care anymore. He doesn’t care about anything. He’s deaf and apathetic towards everything else. He can’t do anything. He doesn’t want to do anything. All he wants is rest. He just wants to be left alone so that he can get some rest.

And it’s the same way in the spiritual realm. When you become weary in spirit, you don’t care about anyone or anything. You don’t care anymore. And because you don’t care, it’s very hard for anyone to reach out and minister to you. You don’t hear, you don’t listen, because you don’t care. Nothing matters to you. Nothing concerns you. You aren’t interested. You’re tired. You can’t go on. You just want to be left alone. And when people won’t leave you alone, if the problems don’t stop, you get ugly and mean. It’s like you become another person.

2. DISCOURAGEMENT LEADS TO DESPAIR. It is the nature and work of discouragement to breed despair. When you’re discouraged and you don’t take care of it, you eventually become a very despairing person without faith or courage or hope. You see, discouragement is often what happens when you allow your senses to go uncontrolled. You look at the way, you look at the journey ahead, you look at the trials today, you let your mind reason any old way it wants to. And the result is, you become discouraged because of the way. Discouragement, I am saying, is a product of uncontrolled senses.

When you look at how bad things are going, two things invariably result. First, you despair. You’re so busy looking at the giants and Goliaths that you lose sight of God, you forget what God can do. You don’t see any remedies. You see no door of escape. Hope fades, my friend, when your vision is blurred. WHEN YOU GET YOUR EYES ON CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU LOSE SIGHT OF GOD. AND WHEN YOU LOSE SIGHT OF GOD, YOU LOSE COURAGE, HOPE, AND FAITH. That’s the way it always is! You lose courage, hope and faith when you get your eyes off of God. As a result, because you’ve got no courage or faith, you don’t do anything. You don’t rise up and fight back. You sit still and let the Devil run ram shod all over you. You resign yourself to “whatever will be, will be.”  Little do you realize that with God and with faith, whatever will be, won’t be.

And a second thing that happens when you let your senses wander is self-pity. You look at all the bad things that are happening to you and you get to pitying yourself. You feel sorry for yourself because it doesn’t look too good for you. You become a very self-centered person.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 3. More on the things discouragement does to you. It’s such a sad picture that you just don’t want to have anything to do with discouragement. It’ll motivate you to get out of that hole in the ground and look at the sunshine of God’s love and power.

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