Have you ever been stuck in one of life’s ruts? Do you sometimes feel discouraged and then defeated because you just cannot shake the feeling of discouragement? Have you ever felt so sure God was leading you to step out into the unknown (a new city, a new career, a new church, plant a church, etc.) and yet things are not working out like you thought they would? Your bank statement, an exam score, an overdue unanswered prayer, a bad habit you are failing woefully at quitting, a wayward child, among others can leave you plenty discouraged.
Today I had an epiphany in church (shout out to Pastor Jori). God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand. At this point when the promise first came, Abraham was fertile. The problem with the promise being fulfilled was not an Abraham problem, it was a Sarah problem. Sarah could not have children. How discouraging! I am sure with each passing year, Sarah grew more and more discouraged knowing that she was the reason Abraham had not experienced the fulfillment of his promise. So she did what she thought she had to do… she asked Abraham to procreate with a servant in order that the promise would be fulfilled. We know how badly that turned out and how that decision made from a place of discouragement, continues to impact the world today.
Decisions I make when I am discouraged are seldom prayerfully considered. For the most part, I am trying to do all it takes in my power to shake the horrible feeling and move on. I think of people who resort to drugs and alcohol for a quick pick-me-up (and I pray for the peace of God to guard their hearts like an umpire right now and in this moment).
This was not where I was going with this topic but lets just roll with it. I am reminded of David: He had every reason to be discouraged and feel defeated. He had just come back from war to find his village pillaged; his wives and children and those of his men taken into captivity (1 Samuel 30 ESV). The bible says he wept till he had no strength to weep any more. Then he did something remarkable. Instead of rushing off to try and get the captives back, he prayed and asked God what he should do.
Last week, I heard something on the radio:
How you feel is not who you are. Feelings are good servants but terrible masters.
When life beats down on you and you feel defeated, remember that’s how you feel and its not who you are! Don’t make defeatist decisions because more often than not, like any storm, discouragement passes and you’ll have to live with the consequences of those decisions. Don’t let how you feel dictate your next move! Try telling God how you feel.
God still wants to be your God in those moments when you feel like He has abandoned you. He wants to help you navigate the storms of life. As life rages, and your ship is beat down by waves of discouragement and billows of defeat, you have an assurance, a hope that God is ever present with you.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12 NIV
This hope is the anchor that will keep your soul steadfast and sure while the storm rages on (Hebrews 6:19 NIV) and this hope is fastened to the immovable, unshakable Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ
So dear reader, when you feel like you are being pulled in all directions and you are overwhelmed and in distress or anguished, my prayer for you is this
…when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2 KJV
Be intentional in your relationship with God, through the good times and the stormy times.