Don’t Be Discouraged

dis·cour·aged

adjective

having lost confidence or enthusiasm; disheartened.

I sense a lot of discouragement in our circles these days. So many of us are burned out and disillusioned. Whether it’s our shrinking churches, long-term singleness, or seemingly unattainable life goals, there are many things that bring us down. Not to mention family tension, career setbacks, social media drama, and frustrating sin habits. It’s not easy to remain upbeat and positive. Negativity is easier than optimism. Discouragement abounds.

Of course we know that, spiritually, the outlook is bright. But how do we translate that into hope and courage for the daily grind? How do we stay upbeat when our churches are just barely getting by or when relationships fall apart?

Well, let’s consider the following points:

1) God works mightily through small numbers. Remember how God whittled down Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300? Think about it: God used less than 1% of Gideon’s original army to soundly defeat a fearsome enemy. They were outnumbered 450 to 1 by the Midianites and still they prevailed. Guys, no church is too small for God’s work. No assembly is too little to accomplish great things for the Lord.

2) Singleness isn’t the worst thing ever. Yes, research suggests that married people are on average happier than single people. But marriage is not the answer to all of your problems. Remember, there are plenty of unhappy marriages too. Don’t rush into something you’ll regret later just because you’re desperate to escape singleness. On the other hand, don’t expect a Cinderella or Prince Charming to appear one day and whisk you away into endless euphoria. Instead of dreamily fantasizing about all the qualities you’d like to have in a future spouse, focus on how the Lord is shaping you so that you can be a better spouse someday. Remember, marriage is hard. And it is most certainly not the remedy for your problems.

3) Foreign mission work isn’t the answer, either. Many of you are itching to serve overseas in the mission field. That is awesome and hugely admirable. But don’t expect to find life fulfillment while serving abroad. Because if you’re not satisfied in your walk with the Lord right now, then a simple location change probably won’t cure that. Although foreign mission work does have a certain allure to it, it won’t instantly solve all your problems. An unsatisfied Christian in the U.S. will almost certainly be an unsatisfied Christian in Botswana too.

4) Remember—God’s timing is often painfully slow. Life unfolds slowly. It’s like a marathon, not a sprint. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” High school takes time. College takes time. Careers take time. Relationships take time. Character development takes time. Remember the big picture. Run with endurance. Pace yourself. Be patient, diligent, and gritty. Don’t lose heart as the hands of time march on.

5) The future is bright. In the midst of the humdrum routines of life, look to the future for hope. In Luke 9:62, Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Back then, when plowing, farmers would keep their furrows straight by focusing on an object in front of them. Turning aside or getting distracted meant their furrows would get sloppy and crooked. And so it is with us. Don’t be distracted or discouraged—all the shortcomings and disappointments of this life pale in comparison to the glories ahead of us. Remember that “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Friend, do not lose heart. Please don’t be discouraged. Remember the big picture. Most situations we face now are not as bad as we fear they are, and earthly things we don’t have now are often not as wonderful as they’re hyped up to be.

Best of all, Christ has ransomed us from sin and death, giving us peace with God and hope for eternity. That’s encouraging!

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