Weary and Discouraged

As the iconic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” opens, we meet George Bailey, a banker who soon finds himself trapped under a boulder of challenging circumstances. Even though he has a wife, children, extended family, and friends who love him and would gladly help, he still feels trapped. At his lowest point, he feels like a failure and is ready to give up. However, help arrives in the form of a wannabe angel named Clarence. When given the assignment to help pull George out of his predicament, Clarence asks, “Is he sick?” The “boss angel” answers, “No. Worse. He’s discouraged.”

Discouragement! If we’re honest, we’ve all experienced it. We’ve felt its weight and know how mean it can be. Some of you may be there now. Unless we catch it early, it can dissolve our hope, weaken our faith, and erase our joy. Worst of all, it has the potential to damage our testimony. How can we prevent becoming a victim of such a powerful force?

Let’s take a close look at King David. David understood being overwhelmed by weariness and discouragement.  His arrogant son Absalom had turned against him and wanted Israel’s throne for himself. David hastily fled from Jerusalem to avoid being killed by Absalom’s men. Then, to add insult to injury, David’s wise and once-loyal friend Ahithophel betrayed him by siding with Absalom. Ahithophel boasted to Absalom, “I will catch up with him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away.” (2 Samuel 17:2 NLT)

David mourned and cried over Absalom’s and Ahithophel’s betrayal. Yet, David recognized that he had a very powerful ally who always stood ready to help and had proven His faithfulness time after time. God could and would offer him the help he needed! “Oh Lord”, David prayed, “let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice.” (2 Samuel 15:31 NLT) God granted that prayer and gave David victory, but He also gave David an added, and perhaps unexpected blessing – a new friend. Hushai showed up at just the right time with just the right skill set to frustrate and counter Ahithophel’s advice to Absalom.

Our relationships with friends and family can become just as messy as David’s! Too many times when we’re bone-tired and undone, we’re tempted to let our mouths (or text messages) continue to run when they should simply take a rest. When we give in to temptation, we say things we regret and make our circumstances much worse. (At least that’s been my experience.) We might also be tempted to let negative thoughts about ourselves speak louder than God’s description of us. During times of discouragement, it’s easy to make a list of all the reasons we have to be discouraged. We often paint them onto giant billboards and erect them in prominent spots in our minds so they’re always in plain view.

We might look at David’s wise, prayerful reaction to his discouragement and think, “Yeah right, that was David. Of course he handled his discouragement well and achieved his victory, but, I’m not David!” If that thought breezed through your mind, hold your horses just a minute. Remember Ziklag?

Years earlier, before David ever became king, he was a young fugitive trying to escape the wrath of King Saul. Saul was so insecure and jealous of David that he wanted to kill him. Over and over, he forced David to run for his life. Twice, David had the chance to kill Saul, but he wouldn’t lay a hand on God’s anointed, even if it meant having to remain on the run. 

Soon, however, David became weary and discouraged. He focused on the giant billboard in his mind listing all the times Saul had been angry with him. “David kept thinking to himself, ‘Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.’” (1 Samuel 27:1 NLT)

Perhaps David bought into the ancient proverb, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” King Achish of Gath and King Saul were fierce enemies. If David could ingratiate himself with Achish, then perhaps he could keep Saul off his heels. (As a side note: How ironic it is that David went to Gath, Goliath’s hometown, seeking asylum!)

David did eventually win the approval of Achish by lying and pretending to raid and plunder his own countrymen in numerous towns of Judah. Saying that he was attacking his own people established his loyalty to Achish. In reality, David was attacking the other enemies of Israel, namely the Amalekites. Whenever he and his men attacked a town, they took everything of value and left no survivors so that David’s lies would not be revealed. So, “Achish believed David and thought to himself, ‘By now the people of Israel must hate him bitterly. Now he will have to stay here and serve me forever.’” (1 Samuel 27:12 NLT)

King Achish gave David the town of Ziklag so that he, his men, and all their families could live there together. Having their own town outside the royal city allowed David to continue his covert operation. But then … the whole gang of Philistine rulers got into war with Israel. King Achish naturally expected David to join in the fight. Sadly, David agreed to do so. 

I’d like to think David was still pretending. I want to believe that he was just buying some time to devise another scheme to get him out of the mess he’d made, but I’m not so sure. After all, his weariness and discouragement had led him to settle in an idol-worshipping land where he became a lying murderer and thief. We have no indication in Scripture that he was merely pretending to join the forces preparing to fight against Israel. If given enough time, weariness and discouragement leads to despair, and desperate people do desperate things.

Though David had won the favor of Achish, the other Philistine rulers were not convinced of David’s loyalty and insisted that he and his men be sent back home. Arriving back at Ziklag, they discovered that the Amalekites had burned their town to the ground and taken all of their women and children. David had desperately needed a colossal wake-up call, and this one rang through loud and clear! “David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David FOUND STRENGTH IN THE LORD HIS GOD. Then he said to Abiathar, the priest, ‘Bring me the ephod!’ So Abiathar brought it. Then David ASKED THE LORD, should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?’ And the Lord told him, ‘Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!’” (1 Samuel 30:6-8 NLT, emphasis mine)

Overcoming discouragement and finding strength in the Lord was a painfully long and unpleasant process for David that nearly ended in tragedy. Yet, David FINALLY answered his wake-up call and remembered where his help came from. If only he had stopped hitting the snooze button at the beginning of his struggle.

Perhaps, your current struggle might be your much-needed wakeup call. Be quick to relinquish the control you think you have. Give God time to work things out. He is faithful and always stands ready to give us the help we need. 

As David’s son Absalom pursued and threatened David’s life, I have to believe that his memories of Ziklag were stirred. Those memories surely reminded him that his two greatest enemies had never been Saul and Absalom, but rather weariness and discouragement. 

When clouds of discouragement begin to rain down on you, humble yourself, and ask for help. It does no good to have an umbrella and not stand under it. Resist the temptation to go it alone or to run away. Instead, cry out to the only One who has the power to help. Then, wait and watch as extra blessings come alongside you on your journey.

“I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” (Psalm 121:1-4 NLT)

Posted in
IMG_5536

Donna Jackson

My God Story – Ella Van Deusen

By Donna Jackson | June 21, 2022 |

I’ve waited weeks now to introduce you to my sweet friend Ella Van Deusen! We first met when I began to serve the elementary aged children in our church. At the age of ten, Ella’s understanding of God and His Word made leading her small group a huge blessing. I’ve watched her grow into an…

One of the Good Ones

By Donna Jackson | June 14, 2022 |

You may call me shameless, and that’s okay.  However, I have someone who deserves a pat on the back. Some royal treatment. A great big “attaboy”. I’m sure you have a “someone” in your life who deserves the same. Even the apostle Paul told the Romans they should give honor to those to whom it is…

Weary and Discouraged

By Donna Jackson | June 7, 2022

As the iconic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” opens, we meet George Bailey, a banker who soon finds himself trapped under a boulder of challenging circumstances. Even though he has a wife, children, extended family, and friends who love him and would gladly help, he still feels trapped. At his lowest point, he feels like…

Your Story

By Donna Jackson | May 17, 2022

Have you ever wondered how your life’s story would read if it were part of the Bible? Would it be complicated or comical? Melodramatic or monotonous? Apathetic or adventurous? Heartbreaking or heroic? I wonder what Moses thought of the whole Exodus story. His exploits were definitely legendary – the stuff blockbusters are made of –…

I Don’t Want To

By Donna Jackson | May 10, 2022

For several years, our small tribe of women met for Bible study with female inmates in our local jail. They shared their stories of abuse, drugs, tragedy, and great sorrow. We did our best to point them to Jesus, the only One who could heal their hurt and help them find lasting peace. Since we…

No Time to Play Games

By Donna Jackson | May 3, 2022

Last Monday rubbed my patience about as raw as sushi. And I hate sushi. Everything I tried to do went sideways. In my mind, I imagined flinging my computer across the room so it would feel the same amount of grief it had caused me. Every click of the cursor apparently filled the hard drive…

A Life That Matters

By Donna Jackson | April 19, 2022

The motley tribe of seven disciples sat quietly beside the sea trying to understand the most recent swirl of events. Their time spent as Jesus’ close companions had given them direction and a purpose. But now, everything was changing so quickly. Their teacher, friend, and Messiah had been tortured, humiliated, and killed by Roman soldiers.…

You May Argue, But …

By Donna Jackson | April 12, 2022

Whenever my brain waves begin to lay flat and my mind becomes exhausted from a day of writing, I grab a glass of tea and the TV remote. I depend on Joanna Gaines and Giada DeLaurnetiis to give my mind a break. They offer the inspiration I need to fill a skillet or two for…

What Do You Want for the Children in Your Life?

By Donna Jackson | April 10, 2022

What do you want for the children in your life? That was the question I posed this week to a room full of courageous ladies in drug rehab. Answers flew back: “Happiness”, “Peace”, “Strength”, “A relationship with God”. In a previous Bible study, they had asked for a message on parenting. My wheels immediately began…

Why Travel Perfection Road?

By Donna Jackson | April 5, 2022

On the outside my grandmother Josephine looked like any other grandmother. She wore glasses, gray hair, and her share of wrinkles and spots. But on the inside pumped the heart of a playful little girl. We cut paper dolls out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog, sang at her piano, and turned brand-new pointed Crayola…