Everyone battles discouragement. It doesn't matter who you are, or how successful you are, everyone fights it. So, it's not a matter of learning how to avoid discouragement, it's a matter of knowing how to overcome it.
One of the most peculiar stories in all of the Bible happens in Exodus 17. Moses commands his general Joshua to attack the Amalekites. As Joshua does what he has been instructed to do, Moses climbs a hill overlooking the battle. That is when the story gets a little strange.
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. (Exodus 17:10-11)
Isn't that strange? I wonder how long it took Moses to figure out that the placement of his hands had such a huge impact on the outcome of the battle. If I were Moses I would be playing around a little bit, just enough to figure out what was happening. Hands up - "look we're winning." Hands down - "uh, oh that's not good." After Moses figures it out, he keeps his hands up until he no longer had strength to keep them up. That's when he asks Aaron and Hur to sit beside him and prop up his hands. Eventually, Joshua overcomes Amalek - all because Moses figured out how to keep his hands lifted up.
Why do you think God acted in this way? Isn't it strange? Why play around like that? What was the point? These questions rattle through my brain when I read this passage. I've come to realize, however, that most of the Old Testament battles can be used as metaphors for the spiritual battles we still face today. So, I started digging a little deeper, and here's what I found.
The name Amalek can be translated as discouragement. That's interesting because after the battle is won, God promises Moses something:
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Writethis on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14)
God promises that the nation of Amalek would eventually be utterly destroyed. And that happened. Today, there isn't a nation called Amalek or a people remaining from this clan. Yet, the next part of the chapter says something different.
15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:15-16)
Verse 16 says God will continually war against Amalek. How is that possible, if the nation is to be utterly destroyed? It doesn't make sense until we understand that Amalek means discouragement. Yes, the nation has been destroyed, but discouragement has been one of the devil's greatest weapons against believers in every generation past and will continue to be for the generations to come.
So, how do we overcome? The same way God led Moses and Joshua to victory. When Moses had his hands up, Joshua overcame Amalek. The raising of our hands is the universal sign of worship. As long as you are in the posture of worship and worshipping God, you will overcome discouragement. When Moses lowered his hands, Amalek seemed to gain strength and began to prevail. In the same way, if we become neglectful in our worship, discouragement will begin to set in and will gain the upper hand in our lives.
Use worship as a weapon to overcome discouragement. When you are too weak to worship on your own, make sure you enter into corporate worship, where others can lead you into the presence of God. That's one more reason why it is so important to regularly attend church. Because, not one of us is strong enough on our own to overcome the regular onslaughts of discouragement. We need each other!
Question: How has corporate worship strengthened you? Share your testimony or comment below in the "Leave a Reply" box.