Have you felt it—that sickening discomposure that leaves you weak and confounded and thinking, “What am I gonna do?!” but too overwhelmed to imagine there is anything that can be done…?
Literally ‘dismay’ means to be shattered, to be broken down with fear, ‘shorn of strength’—’like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted before it is grown.’ (II Kings 19:26) You get the feeling.
There are plenty of examples. Joseph’s brothers knew this sickening dread the instant Joseph, that foreboding Egyptian ruler, identified who he was to them. They recognized not only his power, but the grave wrong they had done him and what was due them in return. (Gen.45:3) This is an interesting picture of what it will be like to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ—nothing but dastardly unworthiness on our part, but… He is our Brother and has forgiven. And that makes all the difference… But that is a tangent.
Dismay is the temptation Joshua faced when called to lead the Israelites to conquer all of Canaan and claim it as their own. There were giants in the land! The people back-pedaled fast, figuring it would be better to go back to Egypt. God must hate them to have brought them to this juncture. (Deut.1:27ff.) They were the picture of dismay. All but Joshua and Caleb.
Dismay is what all Israel felt--everyone but David, when Goliath stood up! Another giant in the land. (I Sam.17:10,11)
And it’s what they felt again when hordes of Moabites and Ammonites came to fight their puny numbers. (II Chron.20:15)
It’s easy to find examples of dismay. I’ve tasted it too—that sickening something in the pit of your stomach. So, just in case you haven’t, I’ve written down the recipe.
It’s a common sense recipe really. You just follow your best judgment with the proportions. Start with a good look at the situation. What are all the problems you face? How big are they? Compare them to your own strengths and aptitudes to see how you’ll measure up… You’ve got to really focus here. Keep the problems foremost in your mind.
Then forget about any hocus-pocus promises. They’re only words on paper after all. What you need is solutions you can work toward--a concrete plan of action.
Don’t be deterred by thoughts of what’s happened in the past—times when things all worked out for good. Those were lucky exceptions. This situation is going to require some brute force, either that or some astute maneuvering. You dare not leave it to chance.
And what about prayer. Well, the recipe that always works for me involves praying in my own name. Do you know what I mean? This is how I see the situation. This is what I want to see happen. And this is how I’d like to see it accomplished. Now for a game plan. Hmmm….this will require some quiet time to fret and fume.
Well, those are the main ingredients for mixing up a masterful batch of dismay, with a hint of discouragement and a touch of depression. Oh, and there’s one important instruction for mixing it up properly. Pay careful attention to every thought that flits through your head. Take each one seriously, as if it were the gospel truth. Think those thoughts and don’t question their source. It’ll give your batch of dismay a creative flare.
And that’s that—Be thou dismayed. Good Luck!
P.S. For more detailed instructions, consider the Scripture links included in the above instructions. They will help to flesh out the complete picture. And should you wish to brew an antidote for dismay, these links will serve that purpose too!