Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Discouragement

The following is a brief devotional written by Dr. Chuck Yopst, a retired pastor in our congregation. It blessed me and I hope it does the same for you. 

Inner Geography:  Discouraging Days

"What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?  O Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help."   (Psalm 30:9-10)

"Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life."   (Jeremiah 45:5)

"Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, 'Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me"?  I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.' "   (John 16:19-20.  After His Passover Lord's Supper on Maunday Thursday evening before His crucifixion in Jerusalem.)

"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)


My dear friends and fellow believers, I have had my share of discouraging days.  Death of my sister 50 years ago this month.  Out of work a couple of time because of jealous supervisors.  Automobile breakdowns in isolated places.  My self-esteem felt quite low in those times.  I could bore you with the list.  And you have your own uncomfortable lists.  What could I learn from this?  What could help me?  I share your feelings.  Been there.  Done that.  But how to improve?? 

I was pointed to some others who have suffered major let downs.

Joseph kidnapped and throw unjustly into an Egyptian prison (Genesis 37:23-25; 39:20, 21).

Moses exiled from Egypt where he was considered the Pharaoh's son (Exodus 2:15-21).

Elijah after championing God at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:15-19:11).

Jonah at the repentance of the Assyrians after his swallowed and released from a whale in the sea (Jonah 4:1-11)

The Psalmist moaning at his feelings about being thrown into the pits. (above)

Jeremiah sitting at the bottom of a damp well in hiding (Jeremiah 38:1-6)

Jesus weeping at Lazarus's grave (John 11:33-35).

Jesus' disciples after His crucifixion and death (Luke 24:13-33).

Paul the Apostle prohibited from sharing the gospel in Asia Minor, not knowing yet about Philippi (2 Corinthians, above).

The list of these people is endless.

And what happened to them??   Their discouragement was a prelude to even greater success and witnessing.  There are, of course, some exceptions, more than a few but not many.  Even then they were urged to look ahead to God's heaven.  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  (Matthew 5:11-12)

Now, what did you say was discouraging to you now???

Grace and peace and from the praising God-for-His-phoenix-out-of-the-ashes-promises, improvisational church.