Discouragement, be gone!
Sooner or later, everyone of us will face some discouragement. In fact, I am convinced that it is a primary way that the devil seeks to get us off balance and tear us down. Paul gives us insight into his discouragement—both explanation and hope. Take a look: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4.8-9
~>We are hard pressed on every side - Paul faced the harsh judgments and undermining of his credibility and call from fellow believers . . .but, he says, we are not crushed. Paul knew his calling and he knew who called him; he knew that God was in control.
How about you? Do you feel that you are ‘getting it’ from every side? Family, work, broken relationships, health, financial strain . . . One of the major causes of discouragement is fatigue. When we get physically and/or emotionally exhausted, a door opens to depression, anxiety and even illness. First, there is a sense of being overwhelmed, and right then, we need to act . . . fight! [some of you need to read those last two sentences again]
~>perplexed - ‘Why were these self-righteous, self-appointed religious critics persisting?’ Paul must have asked himself. How long would they be trying to tear down Paul’s credibility—his mission of sharing the good news of Christ? Hmm, isn't it strange to think of Paul as perplexed?
‘And you? ‘Things not going like you had planned? ‘Things not turning out like you expected, when you had planned so well? Failed expectations are so disappointing; they knock us off-center. Like, when you thought about being a parent, you never thought YOUR child would be so very difficult … when you married all those years ago, you didn’t see you were marrying your father, and that things would be so very difficult … you did not think you would be 50 years old, and dusting off your interviewing suit, hitting the pavement to find work …
Yet, here you are. Life was not supposed to be like this.
but not in despair - God is on the throne. Nothing that assailed Paul caught God by surprise; nothing you or I face is too much for our Father. He is able.
~>persecuted - Paul was on a mission from God, and yet he was often hungry and homeless. He was beaten, stoned, put on trial, shackled and imprisoned—why? For the same mission! He was shipwrecked and left for dead – but he trusted what God said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’1
~>but not abandoned – “The Lord your God is with you; he is mighty to save.”2
~>struck down – Paul always got back up . . . he never lost sight of his goal.
Some of us have been struck down by failure – failure to achieve, failure to execute and perhaps worst of all, moral failure. The question is, ‘did you get back up?’ Come on, people have reached out to give you a hand up, and you take it, but then you let your failure get the best of you again, and you are right back down on the floor! How did you get there again? Think about Peter walking on the water to Jesus. As long as he kept his eyes on the Lord, he skipped from white cap to white cap—when he looked down, he sunk into the white caps—he was consumed. Have you failed? Stop looking down!
Part of what is going on with you is that you are consumed with yourself …get your eyes off you, and back on Jesus!
~>but not destroyed – actually far from it!
More tomorrow….push on toward overcoming, Friends! Maybe this message isn’t for you, but for a friend, so pass it on. If it gave you courage, I’d love to hear from you. Overcoming discouragement takes courage, faith, and friends. Count me in!
And Jesus is the only One who can turn our graves into gardens. Check it out:
1 - Hebrews 13.5
2 - Zephaniah 3.17