Do you ever get discouraged? I do, and most often it is in relationship to Ministry. I love our church, I love our families, I love being in the ministry, but I get discouraged at times. Why? Because I love our church, I love our families and I love being in the ministry. You see, because I love them I want to see them grow, be faithful, see God do a work in their families and in their personal lives. I want to see God do something marvelous in His church and the family of God. I want to see Husbands grow, wives grow, teenagers and children grow in Christ, and go deeper in their faith. So, when I see families not attending, not putting their families in the one place that can have eternal value in their life (and that is regular systematic Sunday worship), I get concerned for them and at times it can lead to discouragement. Because, as we all know, one thing leads to another, and it doesn’t take long where a one Sunday absentee becomes a month absenteeism and then months of being not in Gods house. Then bad things begin to take place and we wonder : how did we or I ever get to this point in my life?
Then there are times when I get discouraged over the opposition, resistance and criticism one faces in the ministry when you are simply trying to do something for God. I am reminded of a letter William Carey wrote to a group of Christians who was opposing him on his missionary desires. Carey wrote, “do great things for God, expect great things from God.” Carey faced opposition, Nehemiah faced Opposition to rebuilding the wall, I face opposition and so will you. You will face opposition in your life when you decide to become what God wants you to be. When you decide to grow in Christ, go deeper with him, or attempt to serve Him in a deeper way, you will face opposition as well. And that opposition may come from family, friends, nonbelievers and of course the one who is behind it all ..Satan himself.
So, what do we do with our discouragement? How do we handle it? Do we even know where it is coming from? Let me give you some thoughts on this that comes from my series on Nehemiah that can be heard in its entirety at www.smithriverbaptist.org/sermons/
First, why do we get discouraged and where does it start? Well its starts with fatigue, with being tired. Often times being physically, spiritually, emotionally and/or mentally tired leads to discouragement. This is why we need times of rest for all four of those areas. We need to do as Jesus did and that is to get away and rest and pray. Another place that discouragement comes from is fear. Perhaps it’s the fear of the unknown, fear of the enemy. Perhaps we get tired of the spiritual opposition that we face in our life and that leads to the fear of that opposition and what they might say or do. And because of those two elements it leads to discouragement.
Now there is a danger in discouragement. The danger is that it can very easily distort reality. For instance in the Book of Nehemiah the people are tired, fearful and they see all the rubbish and basically tell Nehemiah they can’t go on because of all the rubbish. Well the truth of the matter is that the rubbish was half gone. It was not as bad as thought. We at times get so discouraged that we look at the rubbish around us, or the situation we find ourselves in and think it is worse than it really is. We look at the seemingly lack of progress we are making in our Christian life and think there is still “too much rubbish” and we say as the people of Nehemiah did, “I cant go on, I am discouraged, I quit.”
Well, what did Nehemiah do with his opposition and what did he tell the people to do with their discouragement. The answer is twofold – One is to pray, stay on our knees before the Lord. This is what Nehemiah did. When faced with opposition he prayed, he was a man of prayer. But the second thing he did was stay focused on what God had called him to do. That is what you and I must do as well. We must stay focused on Gods plan and will for our lives and not let ourselves get distracted with all ‘rubbish”.
But there was something else Nehemiah encouraged the people to do in relationship to their discouragement. They were not only to stay focused on the task at hand, but also focused on who God is. And that is what we are to do as well. Stay focused on who God is in our lives. Nehemiah says to the people “remember the Lord, great and awesome” ( chpt 4:14) Let us also remember that God is a personal God, God is a caring God (we can cast all our care on Him), God is a powerful God, God is an awesome God, God is a sovereign God, God is a Victorious God, and God is a God who is on your side. He is always on the side of His people. Never forget that.
Psalm 56:1-4 and vs 8-9 says. Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; Fighting all day he oppresses me. 2 My enemies would hound me all day, For there are many who fight against me, O Most High. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. 4 In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? 9 When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me