Encouragement: A Powerful Tool Against the Enemy
I once had the honor and privilege of hearing and meeting Roger Donlon, a retired Army colonel who regaled us with exciting and horrifying accounts of his military service. He was the Vietnam War’s first recipient of our nation’s highest award for valor—the Congressional Medal of Honor.
My fellow attendees and I sat in awe of this hero, the very epitome of courageous leadership under fire, drinking in every word he uttered. In closing, he took a yellowed newspaper clipping out of his pocket. He captured our attention with a story about an enemy, one that continues to stalk and at times defeat him:
The devil decided to go out of business and offered all his tools for sale. He attractively displayed the entire evil lot—malice, hatred, envy, jealousy—marked with price tags. One higher priced tool—wedge-shaped, yet worn-out—lay apart from the rest.
Someone asked the devil what tool that was.
"Discouragement," he replied.
"Why priced so high?"
The devil replied, "Because discouragement is my most useful tool. When I cannot get near a person with any other tool, I use discouragement to pry open and get inside the conscience. And once inside there, I can use that person in ways that best suit me. The tool of discouragement is so worn because I can use it with practically anyone. Few people realize it belongs to me."
COL Donlon’s courage in admitting this struggle was very comforting to me. Does that story resonate with you as well? How many times in your life have you been told you wouldn’t succeed? Are you tired of seeing others pass you by? Do life’s perplexities make you feel like a modern-day Job?
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 28:11).
Sifting through the ashes and rubble of what remained of their home after last summer’s wildfires in Colorado Springs, friends of mine found pottery still intact despite the flames. It had been fired in a kiln, that necessary finishing stage which creates an enduring piece of beautiful art.
When the Master Potter refines us into the image of His Son, His most amazing work in reshaping the clay of our lives into lasting pottery often comes through the painful fires of testing.
Combating Satan’s tool of discouragement requires confident faith in Jesus Christ, that unutterable trust of knowing He is always standing with us through all life’s bewildering fires.
The apostle Paul speaks of a powerful tool that we, the Body of OCF in the Body of Christ, can use together in resisting Satan’s attacks of discouragement when our faith is tested, Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
If you have you tasted the bitter pill of defeat and want to give up, I encourage you:
Don’t go it alone
The Lord will never leave you. When you are tested, tempted, or tormented—go to your knees, go to Scripture, and surround yourself with loving, Christ-centered friends.
Don’t rely on your own strength
Apart from the Lord we can do nothing. All self-efforts are in vain and will leave us frustrated. The Potter’s kiln of testing is to develop His strength in us for the heat and struggles yet to come.
Don’t forget God’s love and His best for you
No matter what you’re up against right now, lean heavily on the Lord as you continue to run your race. He has great plans for you and will use the difficulty to form unshakeable faith in you.