Whether it be persons or things, when they yield not that which we look for-our souls are cast down.
And the stronger our expectation, the keener our disappointment when it be not fulfilled.
1. Learn then, dear reader, to hold all temporal things with a light hand.
Discipline yourself to do so. "Set your affections upon things above and not on things on the earth" (Col 3:2).
There is nothing whatever under the sun...which can satisfy the heart; and if we seek our gratification therein, then "vexation of spirit" (Ecc 1:14) will be our certain portion!
God is a jealous God and will brook no rival; and if we make an idol of any object He will break it to pieces or give us to discover it is made of clay!
Be careful then, not to make too much of the creature.
The less we expect from others, even from fellow saints, the less shall we be disappointed and discouraged.
2. Cultivate a life of faith. A being unduly occupied with the creature-is an evidence that faith is not in operation, for faith is ever engaged with unseen things.
Israel's despondency in the wilderness, was due to their eyes being removed from the Lord.
When the disciples became so faint-hearted and affrighted in face of their storm-tossed boat, Christ put His finger upon the seat of their trouble by saying, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" (Mat 8:26).
And how is a life of faith to be cultivated?
By daily meditating on God's Word, for that is its appointed food: "Nourished up in the words of faith" (1 Timothy 4:6).
If that spiritual food is neglected, then faith will weaken and languish...more specifically, by laying hold of and making the divine promises your own.
If you rest upon the promises of men they will prove but a broken reed; but if we count upon God's fulfilling His covenant engagements-we shall not be disappointed, for "faithful is he who calls you, who also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you" (Isaiah 26:3).
3. Cultivate a spirit of contentment. That was where Israel failed: their discouragement sprang from dissatisfaction with the provision God made for them...lusting after the fleshpots of Egypt, they wearied of the manna.
There can be no peace of mind or rest of soul, while we are displeased with the portion God has allotted us.
But how is our proneness unto such sinful dissatisfaction to be overcome?
By diligently and daily seeking grace to heed that precept, " Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said: Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
It is the spirit of covetousness which makes real contentment impossible.
They who are greedy, cannot enjoy what God has already given them.
O how we punish ourselves by our inordinate desires!
It is not the possession of things which brings satisfaction but the use we make of them and the pleasure we get out of them.
Be thankful for God's present mercies, and trustfully leave the morrow with Him.
Count your many blessings and develop the habit of gratitude.
4. Let your surrender to God's sovereignty be more complete and constant.
Israel were peeved and dejected because they could not have their own way; and much of our discouragement springs from the same evil root.
The corrective lies in yielding ourselves to the good pleasure of God.
He apportions His favors as He pleases; and it is not for us to murmur at the same but rather to say from the heart, "May the will of the Lord be done" (Act 21:14).
Shall the creature quarrel with the Creator, because He has bestowed this and that upon his fellows and withheld the same from him?
To do so is horrible arrogance and presumption.
But how am I to learn the holy art of meekly acquiescing unto divine providence?
By living under an habitual sense of your own unworthiness in the sight of God; realizing daily that "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed" (Lam 3:22).
Nothing will so much render us submissive to God's dispensations, than the remembrance that He is dealing far better with us than we deserve!
5. "In your patience possess you your souls" (Luke 21:19).
Israel's discouragement sprang from their failure at this very point.
They became disheartened at the prospect of a longer course rather than a direct approach unto Canaan.
Much of our discouragement is really a chafing over God's delays.
What is the corrective?
Self-discipline, the mortification of the spirit of restlessness and fretfulness.
Cultivate "a meek and quiet spirit" (1 Peter 3:4).
But how is that to be achieved?
By faith's recognition that God has charge of our affairs, for that enables us to calmly endure whatever He appoints.
He who believes shall not make haste (Isaiah 28:16).
Israel failed, as we often do, because "they waited not for his counsel" (Psalm 106:13).
Daily beg the Lord to place his cooling hand upon your fevered flesh.
Only by waiting on God and for Him shall we maintain peace of mind, cheerfulness of heart, and steadfastness in the performance of duty.