Defeating Despair

“So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.”
Numbers 21:9 NIV

You may have heard the saying, “It’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey”...or something along those lines. Although I agree with that, the reality is the journey can be tough! Sometimes it can feel like you’re on a detour to your destiny! And that can create opportunity for despair. God wants to teach you how to defeat despair in your life so your journey isn’t drudgery, it's an overall victory!

While preparing for a service I was preaching at, the Lord showed me a vision. I saw someone with their heart ripped out of their chest and lifelessly trying to move forward. God asked me to ask why that happened, so I did. He told me they did it to themselves because they didn’t think they could accomplish their destiny - in other words, they felt disqualified. I asked why again and the Lord said to me, “Because they listened to the liar, and every time you listen to the liar you get steal, kill and destroy as your fruit.” I wanted to pick up the heart and put it back in their chest in the vision, but God stopped me and said their hearts will automatically go back into them when they hear My voice.

This is where the Israelites were in Numbers 21. On the journey to the Promised Land, they faced all kinds of trials. Among the recent challenges they faced near to this chapter were:

  • Moses just got told he wasn’t making it into the Promised Land

  • Their other leader Aaron died

  • The King of Arad comes against them and fights

  • Edom didn’t let them travel through their land, so they had to take a different and more difficult route

Their leadership fails, one even dies, they face warfare and the path they thought they were going to take becomes blocked so they had to take the hard way! Talk about an opportunity for the spirit of despair to find a place in their lives! The journey had been tough. The Bible said “the soul of the people became very discouraged along the way” (Num. 21:4).

I wonder if this is where you find yourself at on the journey to your destiny today. It’s what leadership expert Michael Hyatt calls “the messy middle.” Starting and ending seem to be the more celebrated parts of the journey, but it’s that middle part that gets tough. The passage goes on to say that the people complained against God and Moses (I’m sure that’s not like anyone reading this...probably the people at the church down the street...).

So God sent fiery serpents that bit the people and many died...and the people repented. It’s funny how facing the consequences for our sin many times causes us to run back to the Lord! (for the record, I don’t believe God is still sending serpents to bite people today). Moses cried out to the Lord and He told Moses to make a bronze serpent, and lift it up on a pole, and everyone who’s been bitten that looks at it, will live. And it happened! What a supernatural breakthrough!

I believe there’s a key hidden in this passage for how to defeat despair in regard to your destiny: What you focus on you empower.

It was when they looked up that their breakthrough came. It’s a picture to us saying that what we focus on we will empower (see 2 Cor. 3:18). This meant practically that they had to shift their eyes from the serpents, their wounds and their discouragement and look up. Many of us can be way too devil focused, way too wound focused and way too focused on the negative aspects of our trials. This causes us to not only move toward those things in an excessive way, but also gives them too much power in our lives! It’s time to look up and focus on Jesus, His goodness, His power and what He is accomplishing in you through the trial! (James 1:2-4).

Israel had to change their focus and it literally brought supernatural health to their lives. That’s amazing. It’ll be the same for you – when you shift your focus to the goodness of God, despair can’t stay.

Another key in regards to defeating despair is: What you listen to forms your beliefs.

Romans 10:17 says “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” To listen means to submit to, to adhere to. You can’t always control what you’re going to hear, but you can choose what you’re going to agree with. Many of us have been bitten by snakes and their poison is speaking lies to us. The enemy has lied to us - that we are disqualified, unloved, not good enough, not gonna make it, etc. And he even speaks in the 1st person - I can’t do this, I hate my life, I’ve failed, I’m messed up, I hate that person, they don’t really love me, they don’t care about me - so we think it came from us!

The truth is – it’s NOT YOU and it’s NOT GOD! It’s time we form our beliefs from the unchanging nature and truth of our God! He has more than enough truth to displace lies and bring freedom and victory!

Last thing is this: "Thank you" cleanses your lenses.

In all my reading of scripture I haven’t found one place recorded where Israel was saying “thank you” for the manna. Only complaining is recorded. It was BREAD FROM HEAVEN! Even their clothes didn’t wear out. God was taking care of them! They complained because they weren’t seeing properly. They got to the point that they said they hated the supernatural bread! (Num. 21:5). It’s like they were driving with a dirty windshield and needed a wash in their perspective.

Being thankful has a way of washing off the discouragement, resentment, and even bitterness. It allows you to see what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t. It magnifies the blessing of God in your life and allows you to move forward in joy.

I believe if you shift your focus, be intentional on hearing truth and live grateful - despair won’t have a place to land in your life.

Oh.. yea...I forgot to mention one thing.

Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:14-15). Wait a second! You mean that was a prophetic foreshadowing of what Jesus would do on the cross?! You mean there’s greater purpose to what I’m going through?! YES! It’s time to move forward with the victory over despair!

What about you? What has helped you defeat despair? Talk to me in the comments below!

P.S. Check out the full length sermon I preached at Summit Church by clicking here

P.P.S. Be sure to check out our other mp3 sermons at our Resources page!