The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Discouragement is a common life experience. Discouragement comes upon us when we are deprived of courage or confidence. I’ve been discouraged and I know that you have as well. Discouragement comes when the object of our confidence is unreliable.
Often the object of confidence is ourselves or others. Conversely, the object of a Christian’s confidence is the Lord Jesus Christ. Circumstances may overwhelm us. For example, those who suffer with a chronic illness are keenly aware of discouragement. Discouragement when it grows to despair issues forth cries like, “I give up!” or “Why?”
This sentiment is stated by the Psalmist in Psalms 42 and 43, three times. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” In the midst of declaring his deep desire and desperate need for God, the psalmist recorded his state of mind. He was in the depths of discouragement. He could do nothing but ask himself “Why?” I notice that he didn’t answer his question, directly. Rather, he gave the remedy.
The “remedy” is to have a hope that is certain. There is only one certain hope because there is only one certain object of hope. The only certain object of hope is God. The Psalmist knew that God alone saves. God alone has promised to be with His people no matter what the circumstance. God has promised to bring His people to glory with Him. Jesus said that He was preparing a place for His followers and that He would take them to His Father’s Mansion in Heaven.
Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” God gives life to each one He calls to Himself. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13
God’s children have certain hope because He has revealed that heaven is their home!
However, while we live in this world, one of the reasons we often get discouraged is unfulfilled or broken promises. We must continue to remind ourselves of the futility in trusting in man. Placing trust in man or man’s systems will result in discouragement. Even the “best” of us may fail to keep our promises. God alone is always faithful. The Bible declares the truth of God’s faithfulness in the midst of man’s unfaithfulness. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” 2Tim. 2:13
Knowing God and what He has said is our only defense against discouragement. For example, even though “our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” The Bible declares that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2Cor. 4:16-17
In other words, whatever may be causing you to be discouraged God said it is temporary. If you are in Christ, He is renewing you every day. He is preparing you for glory. God has given His people this certain knowledge so that all of the distortions of this world would not overwhelm them. As a Christian, I know that whatever I am facing will pass; and more, God is using every circumstance good or bad to prepare me for glory. Remember, God is faithful and He will “never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
As a child of God, I didn’t always look at the beginning of my hope. I’m speaking of the gospel. Paul wrote to Christians that “the gospel is the power of God…” Rom. 1:16. The Lord used every manner of adversity in my life to teach me that He revealed the means and certainty of my hope including my rising from discouragement. He revealed to me the gospel. That He saved me by Jesus’ blood and righteousness is not simply a past action, but the truth upon which I live. The gospel is God’s power to save. I am saved. I am being saved and I will be saved. There is no other power to lift me or anyone else out of discouragement. After all, God raised me from death to life. Will He not also raise me out of the pit of discouragement?