Have you ever felt discouraged? I think it is safe to say that discouragement can come to the best of us. Often it doesn’t take much – it could be one look, a single word or someone’s silence. It could be waiting for the phone that doesn’t ring, or expecting something to happen that doesn’t.
There can be a million reasons for discouragement but when I read this story it dawned on me that there may be something or someone else at play.
The story goes like this:
It was advertised that the devil was going to put his tools up for sale.On the date of the sale the tools were placed for public inspection, each being marked with its sale price. It was a treacherous lot of implements: Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Doubt, Lying, Pride, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the pile was a harmless-looking tool, well-worn and priced very high.
“What’s the name of this tool?" asked one of the purchasers.
"Oh," said the adversary, "that's Discouragement."
"Why have you priced it so high?"
"Because it's more useful to me than the others. I can pry open and get inside a person's heart with that one, when I cannot get near him with other tools. Now once I get inside, I can make them do what I choose. It's a badly worn tool, because I use it on almost everyone since few people know it belongs to me."
I find this little story rather frightening, maybe because I hear the stories of others and know personally that discouragement is a major tool used on God’s people today.
Discouragement knows no boundaries. We all face struggles in life and godly people - you and I - are not immune.
It doesn’t matter how faithful, or obedient, or how many times the Lord has stepped in to rescue us before, we are still weak and fragile human beings. No amount of Bible knowledge or preaching will keep us from discouragement. It comes to the best of us.
You don’t have to look hard in the bible to find a number of examples of great men and women of God who experienced discouragement. The interesting thing is that they never tried to hide it.
How often are we tempted to cover up our discouragement? We don't want others to think we are weak. We certainly don't want people to think we are unspiritual.
But as we turn the pages of scripture we read how the people of God told their Heavenly Father about it. They came to the Lord with their feelings of discouragement.
Think about Jonah. He was a prophet of God. He experienced the Lord's grace and was saved from the belly of the fish. He saw how God lavished mercy rather than wrath upon the people of Nineveh. He saw God do incredible things in his day. Yet even after all of this, he became so discouraged that he prayed to die (see Jonah 4:3).
Or think about Elijah. This man of God experienced a miraculous victory on Mount Carmel, when fire fell from heaven and consumed a water-soaked sacrifice. When Elijah prayed, great things happened, but still he experienced discouragement (see 1 Kings 19:4).
And then of course there is Jesus.
In the Garden of Gethsemane we see, the One who was there at the creation of the universe, falling down on the ground in despair. In His moment of greatest need, He didn’t put on a show for His disciples but was honest and human before them.
In Mark 14: 33-35 we read: He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed (NIV).
Jesus is our perfect example in all things, even in how to handle discouragement. Jesus was honest before His followers and before His Father.
We are promised that when we cry to God, God will hear us (Psalm 34:17-19).
1 Peter 5:6-7 says,"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you" (NIV).
If you are discouraged today, please, be honest. Don’t hide it. Cry out to God. God hearsyour cries, and desires to be your help and comfort. You are not alone.
See you Sunday!!