Lately, I’ve experienced a series of setbacks, one right after another, including a computer virus that didn’t want to let go. (I’m very thankful to the Lord for blessing me with a brainy husband that is skilled in these types of things.) I’m also so thankful to be able to get back on my computer to the Abiding in the Vine group and continue on the topic “Don’t Give Up!” Anyway, I would love to tell you that as a result of these setbacks, I immediately ran to the Word, fell on my knees in prayer, and received a breakthrough. However, I have to admit that I have had to fight to keep discouragement from getting the best of me.
Discouragement is a crafty and deceptive emotion. When we find ourselves in an unfavorable or downright bad situation, we may initially feel sad or upset about the circumstance. Then, we can often feel sorry for ourselves and have self-pity. Your mind immediately starts churning. Why me? I don’t deserve this. I didn’t do anything to anybody. Nothing ever works out for me. You get the picture. Before we know it, we are plunged into an abyss of doubt, depression, and despair. We become too paralyzed in our discouragement to be the productive, fruit-bearing believers that God has called us to be in the body of Christ.
What I have to share is absolutely nothing new, but just a reminder. When we allow discouragement to set in, we are lacking faith in God. We have made the decision not to trust the Lord, and many times without even being aware of it. The deceptive quality to discouragement is that we think that our future or situation is in the hands of ourselves, others, or fate. As believers, we serve and worship an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God.
I often think of King Hezekiah and how he was the only faithful king in Judah during over a 100 year history. He became very ill, and the prophet Isaiah told him that he was going to die. Hezekiah’s immediate response was to pray. He had lived a faithful, disciplined life in the Lord, so his natural reaction to the dreadful news was to turn to God in prayer. Hezekiah wept as he told the Lord, “remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight” (2 Kings 20:3).
I’m always struck by the short and simple prayer to God. God not only healed Hezekiah immediately, but also added fifteen years to his life. Hezekiah hadn’t asked, but God also saved his city from the Assyrians. These verses in the 20th chapter of 2 Kings remind me that faith and prayer will move God. He can change any situation, no matter how dismal and dark it may seem.
I Timothy 6:12 reminds us to “Fight the good fight on faith.” To fight the good fight, we must always wear our armor of God. What is the armor of God? In Ephesians 6:11-17, the armor is spelled out for us. The short version is that we need to have the truth and righteousness of God, the preparation of the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.
When I’ve really felt discouraged, I know that I have taken my focus off of God and on my problem. I haven’t put on all of my armor.
It’s interesting how we’ll take time to prepare ourselves to take tests at school, work, or for a license or degree, but many times when it comes to spirituality, which is the glue that holds our very lives together, giving us meaning and purpose, we don’t prepare ourselves for the tests that will surely come. Preparing ourselves for the tests and trials that life brings will undoubtedly insure that we don’t ever give up.
Have you allowed discouragement to creep in? Have you checked your armor lately? Drop me a line. . .