Why Does It Happen? – Daniel F. Cates

Why Does It Happen? – Daniel F. Cates

There is no earthshaking revelation in the recognition that discouragements come. They come in A.D. 2024 and have likewise in every year since the world was created (unless Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden for an extended period before they fell). In some of the lives of our biblical heroes, discouragements not only came but they were frequent and powerful. David’s manifold tears made his “bed to swim” (Ps. 6:6). On one occasion [likely on more that one, but only one is recorded for us], David desired to know the cause of his discouragement; he asked, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? …” (Ps. 42:5). David did not have his question answered there, but he motivated himself saying, “… hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God” (Ps. 42:11). While David’s question was not directly answered, the Bible does reveal the causes of some discouragements.

A first cause of discouragement is a lack of salvation. There really is no better reason to be discouraged, for a lack of salvation means eternal hopelessness and helplessness unless the Lord is sought. This is why “Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Gen. 4:13). It is why Jeremiah would write, “Her [Judah’s-DFC] adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. … But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us” (Lam. 1:5; 5:22).

A second cause of discouragement is a lack of peace. Whatever the source of the disquiet in David’s life, he said, “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears” (Ps. 6:6). A lack of peace may be associated with guilt or sickness or loss or fear or other such, but the result is the same, incessant sorrow.

A third cause of discouragement is a lack of confidence. Moses’ discouragement as he was being commissioned to deliver the Israelites from Egypt was summed up in his concern that he would not be believed or even heard or that he would not be able to say what needed to be said (Ex. 4:1,10).

A fourth cause of discouragement is a lack of faith. The discouragement of the disciples was clear when they could not cast out a particular demon (Matt. 17:15,16,19). Jesus blamed their failure on their lack of faith saying, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matt. 17:20). While Christians today are not living in a miraculous age, we still need to have a strong faith and to be motivated by it.

A fifth cause of discouragement is a lack of support. This was a factor in Elijah’s sulking under the juniper tree wishing to die and later his thinking that he was alone (1 Kings 19:4,10,14). This was also Paul’s complaint, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge” (2 Tim. 4:16).

A sixth cause of discouragement is a lack of empathy. This is why Job was unable to be comforted by his friends; when he saw them on the horizon, he expected to be encouraged, sadly they only provided more discouragement (Job 6:14,15). He had not asked for anything but their empathy and they have failed him (Job 6:21-23).

A seventh cause of discouragement is a lack of love. This was the reason for Hosea’s discouragement: His love for Gomer was unrequited (Hos. 2:2,5); sadly, this was also a reason for the Lord’s discouragement (Hos. 3:3,4). A lack of love was also the threat to the spiritual safety of the man who the Corinthians had disciplined but who had been restored. Paul charged them after they had duly punished the man, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him” (2 Cor. 2:6-8).

When we like David would desire to know the cause of our discouragement, may we also know the Solution: “Hope thou in God.”