also doubted. He became so discouraged that he wanted to die! Have you ever felt that way in your service to Yahweh? Has a marriage relationship taken you to the brink of despair? A job? A friendship? Your relationship with a parent? Or a sibling? Your inability to fulfil an obligation or keep a promise? Have you wondered if you really were a Christian because you kept on making mistakes and hurting people? A person going through the Discouragement Test tends to dwell on doom, despair, agony, defeat and depression. If you have felt this way, then understand that everybody passes through this Test in different ways.
Do Not Lose Heart
The Discouragement Test, like the other five we have already examined, can make or break people. I have been through this many, many times. It has felt that life has come to an end, that I was under some sort of irredeemable curse, that I was a failure. You know what I mean, don't you?
"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart" (2 Cor.4:1, NKJV).
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day" (2 Cor.4:16, NKJV).
Daily Renewal vs. Refuge in the Flesh
A human life built on the flesh rather than the spiritual life is always brought to grief in this test because there is no way you can pass it without the daily renewal of the Ruach haQodesh. It is impossible! This means daily seeking Yah'shua in prayer. A person who has the presence of Yah'shua IN Him will pass this test even if he goes through the worst hell imaginable. He will survive, he will endure, in spite of what is going on around him. A spiritual brother or sister will be able to encourage such a person to hang on, to rely on Yah'shua: but a counsellor who is built on the flesh as well will advise the one being tested to give up, just as Mrs. Job did (Job 2:9). Job was made of sterner and purer stuff than either his wife or his first children who preferred partying to serving Yahweh. When his test came, though he suffered and struggled, he survived and prospered because he remained IN Yahweh.
On the Rock or Not
I think this is one of the toughest tests for people because it is the ultimate sifter between those truly built on the Rock (Yah'shua) and those who just say they are. It separates out those who have a relationship with Yah'shua in their hearts and those who think that knowing them only involves theological brain-knowledge. There is no way you can fake being a tare when you come under this testing. There is no way you can continue being a fake believer when you are being put through this trial of your faith.
The Eight Causes of Discouragement
"Then [Yah'shua] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1, NKJV).
What is it that causes the majority of believers to fail this test? How do they open themselves up for discouragement?
(1) FEAR - the expectation and apprehension of impending danger - the dread of anxiety;
"There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread. Yahweh scattered the bones of those who attacked you; you put them to shame, for Yahweh despised them" (Ps.53:5, NIV).
Intimidated by a Woman
Fear is a killer and it shows no discrimination between the great and the small, the weak and the strong. How could the great Elijah, mighty in faith, have turned tail before a mere pagan queen? How could he have wanted to die before the threatenings of one woman, he who had called down fire upon Yahweh's enemies and watched them consumed? Yet he did. And so Yahweh asks him, and all of us who know His mighty hand: 'Why are you overwhelmed with dread when there is nothing to dread?' If the prophets of Baal were nothing to Elijah, why wasn't Jezebel 'nothing' as well? David, who wrote the psalm I just cited, descended into fear and dread just as Elijah did, yet He had seen Yahweh's enemies delivered too. What we are seeing is a characteristic of the unredeemed Adamic nature, the flesh, the carnal disposition, which measures safety and threat with physical instead of with spiritual eyes.
Do You Feel Limp?
"Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. Yahweh your Elohim is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing" (Zeph.3:16-17, NIV).
"Do not let your hands hang limp" is a Hebraic expression meaning "Don't be discouraged or grow weak from fear" (GNB). FEAR CAUSES US TO BECOME:
Weak and Indecisive
(2) WEAK AND INDECISIVE.
"I hear all this, and I tremble; my lips quiver with fear. My body goes limp, and my feet stumble beneath me. I will quietly wait for the time to come when Elohim will punish those who attack us" (Hab.3:16, GNB).
Not knowing what to do, going back and forth over a couple of options, results when we are in a state of weakness and indecision, and these are caused when we are passing through the Discouragement Test and lose heart.
Paralysis and Inactivity
One problem with fear is that it also:
(3) PARALYSES US INTO INACTIVITY:
"I am young in years, and you are very old; therefore I was afraid, and dared not declare my opinion to you" (Job 32:6, NKJV).
Have you ever felt helpless to do what you knew you had to do because of fear? It seems when we are in this state that we can get nothing done. We fritter time away doing useless, and usually repetitive, things that do not require us to engage our minds or hearts.
Indecisiveness and inactivity combine further to create:
"The people in Judah said, 'The strength of the labourers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall'" (Neh.4:10, NIV).
What is possible when there is faith becomes impossible when fear raises its ugly head, leading to indecision, paralysis of action and fatigue. Have you ever felt worn out and so tired that you could barely move? When that happens, what do the wise do? Rest or sleep. The effect of rest and sleep is to refresh us and restore our strength.
Fatigue happens when our task is greater than our resources. It affects us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Another word for fatigue is:
(5) BURN-OUT! It occurs when we have depleted our strength and have no reservoir from which to draw more strength.
It is in the interests of the enemy to keep a burned-out person burned-out. By keeping him in sufficient fear and sending just enough difficulties to keep him paralysed and inactive, he ensures he never recovers sufficiently to be able to get back on his feet again. I speak from personal experience. A fruit of this constantly being knocked down and never being able to get up completely results in:
"Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia" (Ezra 4:4-5, NKJV).
Constant frustration - the feeling of never being able to get anywhere - inevitably leads to a:
(7) LOSS OF MORALE:
"I am going to frustrate the plans of the Egyptians and destroy their morale" (Is.19:3, GNB).
Frustration also leads to burn-out:
"Think about Yah'shua, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don't become tired and give up" (Heb.12:3, GW).
Frustration also leads to:
(8) RASH ACTIONS:
"Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash" (Acts 19:36, NIV).
Have you ever made an impetuous decision? Something you have not thought out carefully, not meditated on and slept on, not asked Yahweh about? Impedtuous decisions lead to rash actions. I remember counselling a Greek Cypriot woman many years ago who was devastated because she and her finacée had had a big row and split up. Her bride-to-be, losing all sense of reality and whilst still angry with her, went and married another woman to spite her! Did he regret this action? Oh yes, because he did not really want the women he had married, but having entered into life-long covenants, it was too late. When we think of rashness in the Bible we often remember Jephtah who made a rash oath that cause his daughter her life (Judg.11).
The culmination of all these things inevitably leads to one feeling abandoned, forsaken and deserted:
"Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Yah'shua cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My El, My El, why have You forsaken Me?'" (Matt.27:45-47, NKJV)
Have you ever felt deserted and wondered why? You're not alone. Joseph felt deserted in Egypt, David felt deserted when on the run from his own rebellious and murderous son Absalom, and Paul felt deserted in a Roman prison. Yah'shua felt it on the Cross as He bore our sins. There are times when we must stand entirely alone in this world. And that is the whole point of the test because ultimately we are supposed to lean on Yahweh alone, especially those in leadership positions. You cannot survive as a leader in Messianic Israel unless you are leaning on Yah'shua alone for your spiritual strength.
Leaning on the Right Person
There will be times - and may already have been times - when you have wondered why you have been permitted to go through terrible suffering and aloneness - why Yahweh allows you to be discouraged. It is to ensure that we are leaning in the right places. It is so easy to make people substitutes for Yahweh when they cannot possibly support us in what are supernatural issues. People can spend time with us, encourage us, and pray for us and give us breathing spaces but they cannot do our trusting for us or provide a survivable bypass around Yahweh for any length of time. They will fail us in the end because they cannot do what only Elohim can do. They can never be Yah'shua IN us.
Leading to Failure
Finally, when we fail the Discouragement Test, all of these things lead us inevitably to failure, which we have already talked about in the Fourth Character Test:
"Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself" (Ex.18:18, NKJV).
"Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, 'The strength of the labourers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall'" (Neh.4:10, NIV).
Five Reasons for the Discouragement Test
Yahweh permits discouragement to take place in our lives for very specific reasons, just as there are specific reasons for the other five tests we have already examined. In the divine economy nothing that happens to us is without purpose even though it may seem to be at the time. And though they may have been avoidable, when we fall into them, they can still be used to our good.
The more I look at the complexities of life and how Yahweh engineers everything to our benefit the more amazed I am at the extent of His omniscience and omnipotence. What is even more amazing is that His love is intelelligent and not, as ours so often is, rash. By that I mean He surveys the whole picture, sees what is best and most needful for us, and overrides the passion of His heart to just step in and intervene when such intervention would only retard our spiritual growth. When maturer and more experienced humans do this they are often accused of being unfeeling and uncaring when the truth is they see a bigger picture than we do and know exactly what they are doing.
What reasons could Yahweh possible have for allowing you to pass through the Discouragement Test? There are at least five:
Two Spheres of Existence
We often forget that we simultaneously inhabit two spheres of existence and reality. Because we so easily tune out of the finer, less easily perceptible, spiritual realm, we often deceive ourselves into believing that the physical world around us is all there is. And also we make judgments based in the flesh and not the spirit
Why Are We Here?
Having been in this world now for over half a century and experienced a lot I have had more than one occasion to reflect on why we're here. When I was young and naïve I assumed we were here to build something in earth - something to improve 'civilisation'. And then as I saw how impermanent everything down here was, how everything is in a constant state of flux, that we can never hold onto our 'favourite moments' because time sweeps them away, I began to realise - at first reluctantly - that what really matters is what happens to us on the (to physical eyes) 'invisible' plane. Even churches, ministries, spiritual movements, and fellowships come and go. Nothing stays...except that which is in the human spirit. And since that is all we can take with us into the next world and into the resurrection, I realised that that was what it was all about. The flesh, ever seeking anchors in the physical, ever seeking to freeze or bottle time, does not approve of this perspective.
Satan remembers his days of glory before he fell, when he was the brightest and most glorious of Yahweh's creation. He fights a battle to retain that memory but knows what was never can be again. He is at the bottom of the pile now and will always remain there, which truth enrages him and blinds him totally.
We Cling On
We, when seeking to hold onto time-clips and the memories, feelings and passions with them, must inevitably experience the same frustration. It is hard to let go of them and accept that our inheritance is what we carry with us in the here and now inside. Are we not rewarded for our good deeds, you may ask? Yes, is the answer, but that reward is already with you in the here and now. We carry that reward in the love, joy, peace and sanctification which we have IN Yah'shua right now.
The Slippery Fourth Dimension
We must not be deceived by fourth dimension called Time. It is a variable function of life, slowed down while we are in the dark corridors of mortality to enable us to work out our salvation. In the world of spirits, time alters. In the spirit everything is present, including our unresolved issues from the past. We are spirits, which is why our old unresolved issues cling to us however much we try to bury them. They are 'there' and will surface at some time, whether down here or before the Judgment Bar of Yahweh. Living IN Yah'shua means living in the here and now and dealing with all that undealt with débris from the past.
Waiting on Yahweh
I mentioned that there were five reasons Yahweh allows us to pass through the Discouragement Test. The fifth of these was waiting upon Yahweh for the renewal of our strength:
"Wait (qavah) on Yahweh; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait (qavah), I say, on Yahweh!" (Ps.27:14, NKJV).
"... those who wait (qavah) on Yahweh, they shall inherit the earth" (Ps.37:9, NKJV).
"Wait (qavah) on Yahweh, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it" (Ps.37:34, NKJV).
"Those who wait (qavah) on Yahweh ahall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isa.40:31, NKJV).
Binding and Twisting with Yahweh
Most Westerners have this idea that 'waiting' is like standing in a queue waiting for a bus to come while we twiddle our thumbs and tap our feet. But that is not what the Hebrew word qavah means even though we translate it to English as 'wait'. Qavah means to 'bind together by twisting'. When we 'wait' on Yahweh we do not 'wait' for Him 'out there' but we BIND ourselves to Him in the here and now! We are actually supposed to be twisting ourselves around Him, and He around us, and getting on with our calling. It is not something passive. It's actually another way of saying we should be echad with Him by active engagement, by being IN Him as He desires to be invited IN us. The waiting is a spiritual thing, not a physical one. You can be waiting on Yahweh and be in the middle of a battle or fast asleep at night.
The Purpose of the Discouragement Test
The grand purpose of the Discouragement Test is to encourage you to make this your priority in life. When we fail to do this, we twist ourselves around people and end up getting disappointed and disillusioned because people aren't Elohim. Only when people first get twisted around Yahweh, and then each other, do we get permanent relationships because the Permanent One is in them! That is the basis of eternal marriage and of the eternal fellowship of the saints (set-apart ones). The greatest lesson to learn down here is that the only permanency is IN Yah'shua our Messiah.
The Three-fold Principle
To be thus 'twisted around' and waiting on Yahweh involves three principle 'twisitings':
1. The twisting of our mind and words (making our thoughts captive to Messiah);
2. The twisting of our hearts (making Yah'shua the Sovereign on its Throne); and
3. The twisting of our physical bodies (which are the temple of the Ruach).
Qavah also means to 'gather together' - when we wait in Yahweh we are 'gathering together' every part of our beings - our thoughts, passions and body-temple and making them His in echad. The same principle applies on the level of human marriage with the wife twisting herself around her husband with the same goal of echad. The heavenly relationship is a spiritual similitude of the marital one.
Dealing with Discouragement
It is one thing to recognise the causes of, and ultimate purpose for, the Discouragement Test but is is quite another thing passing it. How are we expected to deal with discouragement and so come off the victor?
1. Encourage Yourself in Yahweh
"Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in Yahweh his Elohim" (1 Sam.30:6, NKJV).
"David strengthened (encouraged - RSTNE) himself in Yahweh his Elohim" (ISRV, HRV). How do you encourage yourself in Yahweh? "David made himself chazak (strong) in Yahweh Elohav" (OJB). He made himself strong in Yahweh!
The background of this quotation is the loss by David and his 600 men of everything they held dear - their wives and children - to Amalekite raiders at Ziklag. They were exhausted and heartbroken - little wonder they wanted to kill him. So what did David do? He "encouraged himself in Yahweh" (RSTNE), or as a modern version outs it, "Yahweh his Elohim gave him courage". How? By going to Abiathar the Cohen or Priest for a word from Yahweh (v.7). When we are discouraged in our spirits, the only way to get encouraged is by going to Yahweh! David got his word from Yahweh who told Him that if he pursued the Amalekites he would rescue all his men's families! Now there's a word of encouragement! No wonder he felt strengthened because he had faith in the word he received. So, rule #1 when discouraged, go to Yahweh for a word! (Incidentally, they got all their wives and children and belongings back unharmed and in tact).
2. Read Yahweh's Promises
"I write to you this brief letter with the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful Christian brother. I want to encourage you and give my testimony that this [word] is the true grace of Elohim. Stand firm in it" (1 Pet.5:12, GNB).
Are you having problems hearing the voice of Yahweh? Over 8,000 promises are available to you in Scripture alone. Start there! Soak yourself in them, believe in them! Make a note of, and mark, some of the ones you might be needing throughout your life - memorise them if you can. Let me give you a few to get you going if you're a new believer!