Larry Olsen in Outdoor Survival Skills describes a man lost in the desert: "He has been out of food and water for days. His lips are swollen, his tongue is swollen, he's all beat up and bloody. Some of his bones are almost peeking through. He has been scraped and beat up by the cactus and sand and sun. He's blistered. As he's crawling over this little hill he comes across this little plant and props himself up on one bloody elbow, looks down at this plant and says, "You know, if things keep going like this I might get discouraged!"
Many of us today are subject to the discouragement that produces despair, that causes us to lose heart. Discouragement is the loss of courage. When an English word begins with the prefix "dis," it simply means that being described has lost whatever the rest of the word suggests.
The person who is discouraged has lost courage, has lost heart, he has lost the will to go on....fight on....and such a person is a defeated one. When Satan wants to gain victory over a man and keep him from fighting the good fight of faith, he does not have to throw an invincible foe against that individual. All he has to do is change the person's attitude toward victory. For when that man is convinced that victory is no longer possible, he is already defeated.
When one loses heart, he is affected physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Consequently, such a person feels like his spiritual life is on a respirator. And what makes this so insidious is that one moment a person can be on a spiritual magic carpet ride and the next moment carrying around a suitcase of pain that leads to despair....to losing heart.
Elijah was a good example of that. One moment he is on top of Mt. Carmel watching God defeat the prophets and god of Baal. But the next moment he is running for his life and as soon as he sits down, he is contemplating suicide.
This happens to us when we lose sight of God's tremendous love and acceptance of us and the tremendous provisions He has made for us... provisions that lead to victory. The Apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians 3 that God might make the Ephesian believers able to comprehend just how wide, how long, how high and how deep God's love is for them. As if his emotions have overtaken him, he declared that his heart's desire was that they may not just know about that love but that they might experience it on a personal basis.
The Christians in and about Ephesus were in danger of losing heart. I am sure some had come to the place where they thought, "What's the use? Why keep going? God seems so distant!" Clearly, the Apostle Paul sensed that they were about to give in and lose heart. So he essentially says, "I am concerned that you are losing heart. But you need to know that the situation isn't the way you think it is. I want you to look beyond the horizon of your own experience and see God's unbelievable love for and acceptance of you."
It appears to me that he anticipated those incased in a cement shell of discouragement and indifference would respond negatively. So he, with sledgehammer effect, declared that God is able to accomplish in our lives infinitely more than we could ever hope or dream if only we would believe His truth. The intimation is that if we look at ourselves or our circumstance we will lose heart. But if we believe what God thinks of us, it will strengthen our faith into believing God for the impossible. That is not a dream, it is reality through His power.
You may find yourself in the crosshair of discouragement...perhaps even despair. Don't lose heart, but jump into God's pool of love, grace and power. It really is truth to live by!