Anger and Discouragement Open the Door
This week I have been encouraged repeatedly to write about discouragement.
People of prayer must stand against ungodly anger and discouragement everyday. Of the two, anger has always seemed to be to be the more destructive. But over the years I have come to recognize discouragement as a deadly enemy also.
We know from what Yeshua (Jesus) said in John 10:10 that the thief (by which He meant satan) comes to us only to steal, kill and destroy. Ungodly anger and discouragement are some of the minions of the devil, our spiritual enemy.
Like many of you, I have a continuing battle against anger in my life. It is so true that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1:20).
Our personal anger over a situation is not usually an expression of righteousness. In other words our anger does not usually spring from a pure motive. Indeed personal anger is often merely an indulgence of our flesh (though not always!)
Anger is a dangerous and destructive emotion. But discouragement also comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy something: our hope, the very thing we need to connect with faith.
Years ago I heard a teaching about anger and discouragement taken from Genesis chapter 4. It has stood me in good stead many times, and I pass it on to you here.
In Genesis 4 we have the history of the conflict between Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were brothers with very different hearts toward God.
Abel was a shepherd, while Cain was a grain farmer. Both of them worshipped the Lord by bringing Him a gift. Abel brought one of the first offspring of his flock.
Not only was Abel’s gift a blood sacrifice (pleasing to God), but it also showed great trust in God. Genesis 4:4 says Abel included the fat portions of the first increase of his flock.
Essentially, Abel sacrificed the best part of his future. He trusted that the Lord would give him many more animals, animals that were just as good as the one he sacrificed.
But Cain had a different heart toward the Lord. Verse 3 says that he brought the Lord some of his grain.
This grain wasn’t the first part of his harvest, and of course it was not an animal sacrifice—no blood. Cain’s gift was not offered properly with an eye to what God really wanted. Verses 4-5 say that the Lord “had regard for Abel and for his offering” but not for Cain and his offering.
As a result, Cain became angry and “his countenance fell.” In other words, he became discouraged.
The Lord talks to Cain about this, asking him why he is angry and discouraged. Basically the Lord says, “If you had done this thing the right way, you wouldn’t be discouraged right now.”
And then He says something that paints an important picture for us. He tells Cain that sin is “crouching at the door,” desiring to come into Cain’s inner life. The sin He is referring to is the murder that Cain later commits in verse 8.
What the Lord is showing Cain (and us) is that anger and discouragement are like the precursers of sin. They open the door for sin.
Think of it this way. Picture Anger and Discouragement as two persons at the front door of your house. They knock at your door to come in and spend some time with you, and you welcome them in because they seem to fit in with what you’re doing.
But they have a third person with them, hiding in the shadows. When Anger and Discouragement get into your house, they leave the door open for Sin to slip in behind them.
As you entertain Anger and Discouragement, suddenly Sin comes out from the shadows and grabs hold of you. Oh, if only you had seen him coming into your house! But now it’s too late. Your anger and discouragement opened the way for sin to act.
Here’s what I want us to see from this. Everyday we have the opportunity to be angry and discouraged, sometimes even at God, because of things we are praying for that seem not to be coming to pass.
Sometimes these things are trials in our personal lives. Sometimes they are trials in the lives of others we are praying for.
But we are seeing little or no result from our prayer. If we give into the temptation to be discouraged over this or even to be angry with God, we have just opened the door to sin. Usually it is the sin of unbelief—of not believing what God said.
So remember that picture of Anger and Discouragement coming through the door to your life, and realize that Sin is also crouching there in the shadows, looking to slip in through an open door.
Shut the door on Discouragement, and you will be shutting the door to Sin.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Emphasis added.