“Are we downhearted? No! No! No!”
So goes a little chorus I have often heard children sing at church. Adults should sing the same song, for God does not want any of his people to be downhearted and discouraged. He doesn’t want us to wear out and give up. The word in New Testament Greek which covers all this weary territory is eklyo (ek LOO oh).
Here are the uses of the word in the New Testament. When 4,000 people had been without food for three days, Jesus would not send them away hungry because they might physically play out (Matt 15:32). When the Hebrew Christians began to grow spiritually weary and lose heart because of their afflictions, they were to remember all that Jesus endured (Heb 12:3, 5). When the new Christians of Galatia were tempted to throw in the towel, Paul reminded them that they would reap in due season if they did not grow weary and give up (Gal 6:9).
Now let’s look at the background of the word eklyo and make connections with the N.T. passages just cited. Centuries earlier Herodotus used the word to describe how a bow is unstrung when a person is through using it. Philo said that people could become unstrung too: “If a manual laborer works hard and is not paid promptly, his nervous system is unstrung by his sorrow and it renders him incapable of meeting the routine of his task.” Josephus (Antiq. 5, 134) told how the Jews were once made soft by luxury, and how Hyrcanus (Antiq. 13, 233) once became slack in courage as he saw his mother tortured.
In the Greek translation of the Old Testament eklyo describes how Saul’s army grew weary for lack of food (1 Sam 1:28), how one’s feet run and tire out (Jer 12:5), and how people faint from wounds or hunger (Lam 2 :12, 19). Ezekiel tells how hands go limp and trees wilt at the Lord's punishment (7:17 and 31:15). Most vivid of all, Jeremiah describes a mother in birthpains, gasping for breath and crying, “Woe is me!” (4:31). Yet in every adversity God gives courage, just as He spoke to beleaguered King Asa in 2 Chron 15:7, “Be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward in your work!”
Are we downhearted? No! No! No!