Isaiah 35:1-4 (NLT) Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
Courage – mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.
Encourage – to inspire with courage, spirit or hope. To attempt to persuade. To spur on.
Inspire – to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration. To breathe.
I would like to thank the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for these three definitions. Sometimes the awesomeness of God is found by simply studying His Word. Every word has a potential in the Lord as it projected by the breath that He began in us. It is full of power. Life and death are attributed to the tongue in Proverbs 18:21. Is it possible or even plausible that the words of our mouth have the power to sustain us with supernatural power? To move us from fear to courage with a simple yet profound confession? Absolutely.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts…
One would think that the words of Isaiah 35 an actual account of the current situation. They are not. It is the promise of God to restore Israel which has not occurred. To cast vision for the future as the destiny yet to come and find courage to attain it. Courage is not the absence of fear. Bravery is not in one’s ability to be fearless but maybe just fear a little less. God wants to strengthen our tired hands. Not to “do” more but become a worshipper, follower, and believer who can trust Him for the outcome in the middle of an ordeal. He wants us to encourage those who have weak knees feeling time is wasted on rhetorical conversations with an elusive God who doesn’t seem to be paying attention to our pain and suffering. Courage needs encouragement. Inspiration is to breathe in such things while releasing the expired breath within us. Each breath brings new life to our bodies. Perhaps, it could be the very thing used to encourage us so that our life is one of great courage, too.
Psalm 42:5-6 (NLT) Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—
David is discouraged. His heart overwrought. The man who was after God’s Own Heart is struggling within his own heart and mind. As believers, discouragement often feels like spiritual failure. A vortex that sucks us in as hopeless overtakes us. God is not disappointed in us when we become discouraged. His Love is greater than our feelings. He doesn’t even engage them. But rather continues to pursue us with everlasting love and unfailing kindness. We have His Word. The Word of God changes our vocabulary from worthless banter to powerful promises that can be held tightly to as the hope that anchors the soul. In rough seas and tumultuous storms, the anchor is not always visible like the forces of nature. It is such times that many will become isolated from the encouragers in their life and must find it within themselves to be courageous.
Friend, we must learn to encourage ourselves sometimes. The enemy will use every possible means to push us into isolation and solitude. It is in those times that courage must be found to overcome barriers and obstacles of our mind. To commandeer our thoughts and turn back our focus to Christ. He is not far. He lives inside of us just waiting to be our encourager from within.
Courage is provided by encouragement which is meant to inspire us. David was a worshipper. He knew what it meant to encourage himself after long nights in lonely fields tending sheep. Or maybe he found it hiding in caves avoiding his enemies. The breath in my body has the power to become a source of encouragement when I breathe in and out God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. You must be the one to speak it when all alone. Faith will fortify hope. We must cling to our hope when all else fails – God will not.
Psalm 42 shows the inner conflict. The wavering that sometimes occurs when our situation or circumstances do not represent the Promise of God that we hoped for. It doesn’t mean it is over but our soul will sometimes grapple with faith versus fear and needs courage to spur faith’s victory. It doesn’t prove an insufficiency of God in our life but the human weakness that only grace can overcome to infuse our life with power. Fear and doubt dissolve with discouragement when Christ is the strength and source of our life.
John 20:19-22 (NLT) That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
I cannot imagine the surprise of the disciples meeting behind locked doors in fear when Jesus showed up. It had already been a crazy week with incomprehensible twists and turns. Jesus was supposed to come and save them. How is this possible when He couldn’t save Himself? He was supposed to rule and reign but now He is dead and gone. But wait…rumors of a resurrection. Now what? Now Jesus is standing right in front of them showing them his nail scarred hands and the wound in his side – talk about a plot twist. He is alive. He is breathing. Jesus encourages them, “Peace be with you.” He says it again. Look what happens next – Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit lives inside of us. He is our helper, teacher, guide, and partner in this life. He will encourage those who choose a life of faith over fear and courage over discouragement. You must choose the course of your life first. Will you cling to hope? Strive for faith? Fight against fear by accepting godly courage? Will you become your own encourager? Will you inspire yourself? It is impossible to give water from a dry well. It is unhealthy to share polluted water with friends. You cannot be courageous without an authentic life of continual inspiration of God’s Spirit in your life. You cannot share encouragement with others until you taste and see that God is good for yourself. To be a living inspiration is contingent on your willingness to breathe in new life and exhale the past to receive His Glory.
Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT) Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
This promise is for you today, friend. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. The Lord is personally accompanying you no matter how high the mountain, deep the valley or rough the waves. He goes before you to make a way where there doesn’t seem to be a way. He is with you as provider, protector, healer, deliverer, comforter and most importantly Savior. He will never fail you. He will not leave you. There is nothing that can separate you from His Love. He holds you in the palm of His Mighty Hand. This is the promise of your life. An ever present God with a wonder working plan all you must do is continue in Him. To let the Jesus in you rise up against every fear and doubt. Be strong and courageous today. Learn to encourage your heart and soul. Breathe in His Word and release fear, doubt and negativity. You will prosper in such a way that hope will never lead to disappointment again because faith will not let go.
Joshua 1:8-9 (NLT) Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”