1. Distrust of God. Is not that plainly intimated by the words of David when he was chiding himself for his soul being cast down: "Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disquieted within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:11).
It was because he had allowed the difficulties of the way to take his eyes off the Lord that he had become dispirited.
Was it not also the case with Israel in the above incident?
When the Lord turned their course from a direct approach unto Canaan and led them back into the borders of the desert, they were "much discouraged."
They doubted God's goodness unto them-and questioned the wisdom of His guidance.
And do not the subtle operations of unbelief lie behind our discouragements?
Are they not due to a lack of faith that the very objects which dismay us are among the "all things"
God has promised He will work together for good!
If we concentrate our attention on the seen things, rather than on the unseen-we soon weaken and pine.
2. Discontent with God's provision. When faith in God's goodness and wisdom ceases to operate, then dissatisfaction takes possession of the heart.
Unbelief breeds fretfulness with our lot and circumstances, and prevents our enjoying the portion God has given us.
Discouragement, when analyzed, is being displeased with the place or portion God has assigned us.
It was so with Israel. They did not relish the fare which He had so graciously given them.
Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?
For there is no bread, neither is there any water was the language of peevishness.
The real reason for their disaffection was expressed in "We detest this miserable food!" (Num 21:5).
Sad condition of soul was that!
They were "much discouraged because of the way," because the day and fare of the wilderness ministered not unto their carnal lusts.
3. Self-will. That is the root both of our distrust of God and our discontent with His provision.
Discouragement is nothing less than a rebelling against the sovereign dispensations of God!
It was so with Israel.
They were distressed because things were not going as they wanted.
They desired to press forward in a direct course unto Canaan;
And since the Lord determined otherwise, they were cast down-much like spoilt children who are allowed to have their own way, and murmur and sulk if they be denied anything.
And is it not thus, at times, with many of God's children?
Most of our discouragements are due to the dashing of our hopes, disappointments in either things or persons from whom we looked for something better.
But disappointment is really a quarreling with God's appointment.
It is lack of submission unto God.
Discouragements issue from our longings remaining unrealized-from our plans being thwarted, our wills being crossed:
It is nothing but vexation of spirit and insubordination to the divine will.
4. Impatience. That also appears plainly in the above incident. Israel chafed at the delay.
They wanted to reach their objective by the short-cut, and when a roundabout course was appointed them, their spirits fell, and they gave way to complaining.
Unless we prayerfully heed that exhortation, "let patience have her perfect work" (Jam 1:4), we shall often become faint through discouragement.
The work which God has appointed patience to do...is to wait His time.
Patience is a contented endurance of trials which enables a Christian to bear up under them;
Whereas impatience is an ill-humored resentment against anything which checks the attainment of our desires-and a sinking of spirit which saps our energies when the hindrance persists.
Like Israel, only too often we are "discouraged because of the way."
But we ought not to be so, for God has not promised us a smooth and easy passage through this world...
But has told us that "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).