Hope for the Discouraged and Dismayed
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. — Joshua 1:9 (NASB)
Although my mother claimed I was “never at a loss for words,” I have spent the last 4 hours staring into an empty yellow pad with the hope of writing you this letter. I’ve prayed, taken a walk, reviewed recent journal entries, but more or less felt stuck, negative, out of energy, and to be honest … depressed.
What’s strange, almost unexplainable is trying to understand why I would feel listless, unmotivated, and deeply discouraged when:
- Our Mid-year Match BUILD grew to $1,068,227.77, and was more than matched by the Living on the Edge Family! It was by far the largest Mid-year Match ever and allows us to take exciting steps of faith we’ve prayed earnestly about and shared with all of you.
- The Door of Opportunity in China is nothing short of MIRACULOUS!
- I was invited into the inner circle of leadership at the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum in Manila, Philippines, and got a fresh sense of the amazing things our God is doing around the world.
- It’s unquestionably the Best Season of Our Marriage ever with our grown children and 12 grandchildren flourishing.
- God just opened the Door in France and the French speaking world with the translation of True Spirituality (R12) at the D6 Conference in Paris in June.
- The church I left as Senior Pastor is healthy and growing and even invited me back to teach in July.
- We are launching the new Why I Believe group Bible study curriculum to equip pastors, parents, and grandparents to stop the exodus of our young people leaving the Church and their faith.
Seriously, I have so much to be thankful for and be encouraged by … and yet … emotionally dismayed!
The answer came when I picked up a small packet of Scripture memory cards that fell out of my briefcase and I read Joshua 1:9.
God was preparing Joshua and His people for a long and difficult battle. Like us, He assured them that victory was certain, but they would have to fight, suffer, persevere and trust Him.
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Joshua’s charge was to digest, model, and teach God’s truth and success would be guaranteed. Second, be strong and courageous rather than be frightened and dismayed. God was warning him of the 2 equally powerful foes that can render us powerless and ineffective in spiritual warfare.
The eternal foe is FEAR. Fear of the Enemy, the future, the cost, loss, what others will think, etc.
The internal foe is DISMAY. It’s the invisible enemy that attacks our mind and emotions. It casts doubts on God, His Word, our ability, His plan, and sucks the life and energy out of our soul.
It’s what Elijah experienced after his great victory over the false prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18:20-40) It’s what the Apostle Paul experienced after 2 stellar church planting trips. (2 Corinthians 1:8) It’s what Martin Lloyd Jones calls “spiritual depression.”
So, as you prepare for school starting and fall schedules ramping up, let me remind you to be strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed because the Lord your God is with you (and your family) wherever you go.
But do not be fooled! His presence is only experienced and strength and courage given when you and your family are practicing the command given in Joshua 1:8:
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Please listen to the audio recording as I share how to fight with God’s power. Second, I can’t strongly encourage you enough to make it a #1 priority to do the new Why I Believe group Bible study together as a family first, and then share it with co-workers, friends, and your church family.
My “dismay” has lifted even as I come to the end of this letter. Thanks for letting me share my struggles as well as my victories, and thank you for your prayers, gifts, letters, and emails of encouragement.
I am deeply grateful that we are on this journey together … helping Christians live like Christians.
In His Grip,
CEO & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge