by Steven Chan
Becoming weary and discouraged is a common problem afflicting many. There are many reasons for becoming discouraged. An unkind word, an unappreciated act of kindness or disappointment with friends, or any such like, can douse the spirit of a person so that he is no longer “hot” or fervent in his service to God.
Jesus knows that we can become discouraged. In Luke 18:1, the Bible recorded that Jesus spoke a parable to them that “men always ought to pray and not lose heart”. The antidote to discouragement is the practice of unceasing fervent prayer to the Almighty to yield ourselves to His will as He has never failed to deliver us from our predicaments and problems. The Bible exhorts us in 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Again in Rom 12:11-13, we are exhorted: “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”; “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.(Phil 4:6-7).
We need to be vigilant in our prayers: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”(Col 4:2). The practice of prayers is to be characterised by earnestness and vigilance, accompanied by an attitude of thanksgiving to our loving God who is our Creator and Saviour. If we are feeling discouraged, perhaps we should consider our practice of prayer as to whether we have been truly diligent and vigilant in it.
When we get discouraged in doing good, the Bible tells us in Gal 6:9: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” We need to realize that we will most certainly reap what we have sown so long as we do not give up mid-way. We may not know exactly when we may be able to reap what we have sown but we have God’s assurance and promise that “in due season” we shall reap – and God’s promise does not fail – and so we can place our trust in Him. So, let’s not become discouraged if we do not see any immediate results or benefits from the good that we have been doing. Let’s keep on doing good and let’s wait with patience, the fruit that will be come from our good effort.
When we get discouraged, remember the exhortation of the apostle Paul in 1 Cor 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” The Bible assures us that all our efforts expended for His Work, are never in vain – that’s God assurance to us. He knows our works. Hence, we need to keep on keeping on with the doing of God’s work.
When we get discouraged, do not forsake the assembly of the saints because that’s where you will get encouragement: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:23-25). “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”( Heb 3:12-13). We need to be present in the assembly of the saints so that we may encourage one another. God has gathered believers together in His church so that we can help one another to grow in our faith and as a means of preventing us from becoming discouraged.
It is possible that some may have become discouraged by some brethren in the assembly but let’s not condemn all the brethren in the assembly as being equally discouraging. Remember that immediately after telling the parable about how men ought always to pray and not lose heart in Luke 18, Jesus went on to warn against the danger of being self-righteous in our prayers:
“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men- I fast twice a week (or modern equivalent of that: I teach two Bible classes a week, etc“(Luke 18:9-11).
Trying to compare ourselves or our so-called righteous deeds with those of others – is not the way to go. Jesus said concerning the sinner “who would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’”: “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13-14).
When you get discouraged, let’s remember to look to God in prayer and to His Word for His assurance and to the brethren for encouragement. Let’s not stop doing the work of God for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.