Don’t Let Discouragement Choke You

 

Jon Bloom, president of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched in 1994, wrote on a topic that, as Aragorn said, “would take the heart of me.”

I especially needed to hear it today as I am about to embark on my first ever bike “race” Hotter ‘n Hell this weekend. I must confess I’m nervous for several reasons: mostly because I’ve never done it before; afraid I will get on the wrong course; someone will collide into me and something bloody happen; bonking (when you’re body is zapped of everything and you just collapse). But out of all of it there’s an underlying fear and prayer: that I won’t become frustrated and impatient with myself (it will project to others around me too) at my lack of skills/speed. I will have to fight feeling discouragement. It all boils down to faith and perspective. I need to honestly realize where I am as a beginner cyclist, and realize I have a lot to work towards. I don’t need to beat myself up that I “suck,” but take heart and realize that I can only get better with time and practice. I also need to enjoy myself and realize how I have progressed under Chris’ wonderful, patient training. Oh, and I need to fight against my stupid pride and just accept that there will ALWAYS be someone better than me, and that’s OK.

We all face discouragement and we tend to fuel it with doubts and frustration and impatience – a lack of faith. How do you cope with yours? Read Bloom’s article below:

Discouragement is a temptation “common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). And in dealing with it sometimes we need tenderness and other times we need toughness. But either way discouragement is not to be tolerated or wallowed in. It’s to be fought.

If we linger in discouragement it can be costly. Its sense of defeat and hopelessness saps us of energy and vision. It can consume a lot of time. It can keep us from doing what we need to do because we don’t want to face it. And it can even be contagious, weakening others’ faith.

When we feel discouraged we want comfort, which is right to feel. But the comforts we often turn to are ways to avoid our fears rather than ways to muster our courage to face and overcome them. When this happens discouragement simply becomes sinful indulgence in unbelief, no different than indulging in lust or anger or other sins of unbelief.

Jesus does not want us to be discouraged. In fact, he commands us not to be. Listen to what Jesus says to his disciples just before what probably was the most discouraging experience of their lives — his brutal death: “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1, emphasis added).

Note Jesus’s words, “let not.” These are not merely comforting; they are commands. He knew they would be tempted to fear. Things were going to look very bad, like the whole mission was imploding. What were they to do instead of being afraid? Believe! “Believe in God; believe also in me.”

In other words, “Don’t let your hearts be ruled by what you see. Let them be ruled by what I promise you.” And that’s what he’s saying to you and me too.

What’s tempting you to discouragement today? Are you having a hard time believing that God really will work for good what looks so bad to you (Romans 8:28)?

Then it’s time to fight, not pout or shrink. Think of discouragement as your faith being choked. When you’re choking, it’s not the time to plop down in front of the TV with a plate of comfort food to medicate your melancholy. You need to dislodge the obstruction so you can breathe. You need to fight for life. You may need to get someone to give you the Heimlich.

Go get encouragement — faith-fueled courage. Don’t let discouragement choke you. It’s dislodged by believing promises. God gave us the Bible so that “through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). It says amazing things like:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35,37)

Don’t let your heart be ruled by what you see. Let it be ruled by what Jesus promises you.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Shalom,

Rachel B. Duke

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Struck Down But Not Destroyed

“I am fatigued, but it is not the usual kind.” – Jane Fairfax (Jane Austen’s Emma)

“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints” (Revelation 14:12).

We all long for rest and refreshment. That’s a God-given longing that he promises to fulfill: “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (Jeremiah 31:25).

And in a very real way Jesus gives rest to “all who labor and are heavy laden” and come to him (Matthew 11:28). But in this age, it is not the complete rest.

In this age, Jesus grants us the gospel rest of ceasing the impossible labor of self-atonement for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). But in embracing the gospel we find ourselves also drafted into a war — a war to keep believing the gospel and a war to spread it to others. In this age we “strive to enter that [complete] rest” of the age to come (Hebrews 4:11).

And wars are exhausting — especially long ones. That’s why you are often tired. Most soldiers who experience the fierceness of combat want to get out of it. That’s why you feel urges to escape or surrender. That’s why there are times you’re tempted to give up.

But don’t give up. No, rather “take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

Don’t give up when that familiar sin, still crouching at your door after all these years, pounces again with temptation.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Don’t give up when you feel that deep soul weariness from long battles with persistent weaknesses.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:8–9).

Don’t give up when your long prayed-for prayers have not yet been answered.

And he told them [the parable of the persistent widow] to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).

Don’t give up when the devil’s fiery darts of doubt land and make you reel.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day…in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:13,16).

Do not give up when the fragmenting effect of multiple pressures seems relentless.

But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger . . . (2 Corinthians 6:4–5).

Do not give up when the field the Lord has assigned you to is hard and the harvest does not look promising:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Do not give up when you labor in obscurity and you wonder how much it even matters.

Your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:4).

Do not give up when your reputation is damaged because you are trying to be faithful to Jesus.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account (Matthew 5:11).

Do not give up when waiting on God seems endless.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30–31)

Don’t give up when you have failed in sin. Don’t wallow. Repent (again), get your eyes off yourself and back on Jesus, get up and get back in the fight.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9); if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

Jesus knows your works (Revelation 2:2) and he understands the war (Hebrews 12:3). “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). Finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7). “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:19).

Don’t give up.

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I came across this timely read by Jon Bloom on John Piper’s website, Desiring God. It so blessed and refreshed my soul – another reminder of how important it is to immerse yourself in His Word, grace and love. I’ve felt so dried up and exhausted (mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually) these past few months. I know it’s due to my own choices. Reading this was like the pleasurable tingle your skin feels when hot water touches and soothes it on a bitterly cold day. May we never grow weary of doing good. May our hearts be humble and quiet, even when people falsely accuse, call our integrity into question or think wrongly of us. May we just need Him alone and not base our identity in anyone or anything else, because we will crumble and it will destroy us.

Honestly, lately I’ve felt I had nothing worthwhile in myself to say and have lacked spirit and inspiration. Yeah, I tend to wallow in my inadequacy – working on it. I feel very low but I will rejoice in my brokenness, knowing that when I am weak, He is even more glorified — and as Gandalf says to Frodo, “And that is an encouraging thought.”

Two quotes from Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, I want to leave you all with:

“Spiritual growth is not arriving at some point where we need Jesus less because we’re getting better and better.”

“The gospel alone can free you from the burden of thinking you always have to be great in order for you to feel important.”

Shalom,

Rachel B. Duke