So I’ve been dealing with a lot of discouragement lately. I guess I get discouraged at least one good time each month for several days, but I never enjoy being in that mental and emotional place at all. As a Christian, I know there is never a legitimate reason why I should be discouraged or even faint of heart, but I am often tempted to wallow in that cesspool. And I know that there are plenty of people who will tell me that God understands and that Jesus is well aware of everything that we are going through, so don’t beat yourself up about it. And all of that is true, but I disagree with that last part.
I am full of weaknesses. I am full of sinful inclinations. I am a frail person. But, I have been changed, yes transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have been given “unsearchable riches” (Ephesians 3:8) in Christ Jesus, chief of which is faith in God. Yes, I have been given faith from God to believe in Him, to have a sure hope in Him. My hope isn’t the futile human interpretation of the word. I don’t just wishfully think things could happen while deeply believing that it probably won’t. Oh no, no, no, no. I know. I know for sure what will happen. I know that what I experience in this life is not everything. I know that the things that I go through and am dealing with aren’t just arbitrary problems of life. My life is not just “the luck of the draw”, but it is God’s intended, sovereign, all-wise plan to sanctify me and conform to the image of His Son. And His plan will happen, and I will be changed permanently, completely, when it’s all said and done. His Word and promises are unchangeable and absolutely nothing can thwart His plans, not even me.
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. – Revelation 14:12
I do get upset with myself when I do give into that temptation of being discouraged because I know I have no business acting like the rest of the world. I’m called to stand firm and endure. And that alone is what grabbed my attention. If I face the same kinds of trials and circumstances that everyone else in the world faces, and I act just like them, how am I any different than them? What good is my faith if it does not transform even my very response to these situations? How does it bring any glory to God to know I have faith but behave as if I had none?
It’s sobering to think about. I can remember countless times where I had an opportunity to display the power of God at work in my life and bring glory to Him, but instead I wallowed in my discouragement, despondency, and misery. It’s even more sobering to know that Christ told us that we would suffer, that we would go through many things, and to even count the cost of following after Him. Following Him, I know my life would be dramatically harder. Yet, it’s like I never remember that point when things do get hard.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1
Nevertheless, His grace is sufficient, and His mercies prevail over my sins. I remember one thing that I learned my first year as a graduate student that God placed in my spirit then: Do not respond according to your circumstances, but respond according to the Word of God. It was so profound for me then, and it resonates even more clearly for me now. A month or so ago when I was dealing with discouragement, I was challenged in my prayer time with this: What good is your faith if you respond to things like the rest of the world. Live like you have faith. I thank God for reminding of this during this past week, and I realize that it is going to be an ongoing, life-long fight to stand firm on my faith. In fact, we are called, as saints, to endure, to persevere to the end. And I know that with God all things are possible. I know that He keeps me, and I know that in Him, I will overcome and endure to the very end.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
So I just wanted to remind you, especially if you’re going through a difficult time and know the Lord, to live like you have a real faith in Him, a faith that will never cause you to be ashamed. Stand firm in your faith, and you stand firm by being deeply rooted and anchored in the Word of God while keeping yourself accountable to other believers. You are going to continue to face many things in your life, but patiently endure it all, awaiting the eternal promise of God. We’ll all rest when we get to heaven, but until then, be diligent, work out your salvation, and stand firm in the faith so that you can endure until the end and receive that crown.