The exhortation ‘Do not be discouraged’ is often repeated in the Bible. It’s usually accompanied by the words ‘Do not be afraid’, as in our text for today. Often discouragement can be the fruit of disappointment when we’re shaken, because things don’t turn out as we think they should. In consequence we lose the joy of the Lord, which is our strength.
One of the opening questions at a recent Bible study I attended was, “Have you ever been disappointed with God?” Initially there was silence, but the question required an honest answer, and the truth is that people do sometimes feel disappointed with God. They feel He’s failed them, despite the fact that He’s trustworthy and will never ever fail, and He’s promised ‘Those who hope in me will not be disappointed’ (Isaiah 49:23b).
To be discouraged is to be without courage or confidence, which inevitably results in fear. When we’re discouraged it feels as though God is distant from us. Discouragement is often the greatest enemy in hiding God from our eyes. Satan’s schemes are oppressive, and if we go along with them he’ll have won a victory in our lives. We may not see it like this, but, discouragement is a choice. We can either let circumstances drag us down, or look to our great encourager, the Lord Jesus, of whom it was said, ‘He will not falter or be discouraged’ (Isaiah 42:4).
Jesus was never discouraged, because He always worked from his Father’s perspective, never His own. Jesus saw things through His Father’s eyes, and He worked in union with Him, always desiring and doing the Father’s will. He never gave in, but endured to the end. We too need God’s perspective, and this is so closely linked with us having a true perspective of His character and who He is. Intimate knowledge of Him comes from surrender and abandonment to His sovereign will, even when it’s not what we would choose.
It’s part of our human nature to experience disappointment and then feel discouraged. However, if we linger there, we get a sense of defeat and hopelessness, which saps energy and vitality. If we’re able to press on, even joyfully, in the face of opposition, it will be because we refuse to let circumstances govern us, and choose to abide in Jesus and His promises, praying daily, ‘Not my will, but Yours, be done’.
Don’t allow discouragement or disappointment to ground you, if the pain you’re experiencing is bad just now. Be encouraged, for God will give you a new vision and a new purpose, in His time. My following prayer is based on 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.
Prayer: I ask You, Lord Jesus Christ, and You, my Heavenly Father, who loved me and, by Your grace, gave me eternal encouragement and good hope, to encourage my heart and strengthen me in every good deed and word. In my life today may Your kingdom come and Your will be done for Your own glory. Amen.
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