Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dealing with Discouragement

In the Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the opening scene is one of a snowy night in Bedford Falls. We hear the voices of people praying for George Bailey – people who love him and whom he has helped. In the next scene, we see stars in the galaxy and witness a conversation that appears to be between God and a senior angel, Joseph. They are discussing a man, George Bailey, whom people are praying for. The decision is made to send Clarence, an angel trying to earn his wings, to help George. Clarence is beckoned and arrives.

“Clarence, a man down on earth needs our help” God reveals.

“Is he sick?” Clarence replies.

“No, worse, “God responds, “He’s discouraged.”

All faulty theology aside (for instance, angels come with wings -- they don’t earn them), my own heart is stirred with the reality that when we are infected by discouragement it can be worse than physical sickness. It can permeate the core of our being and attempt to destroy our joy and our hope, perhaps even leaving us weak and wounded. Sometimes it’s related to something particular (a dream dashed, a conflict unresolved, a trial persisting) and other times it sprouts up by itself like a seed blown in by a storm, taking root whence we know not where it has come from. As powerful as fear can be in our lives, discouragement can be equally so. It disarms our ability to persevere and be strong, if we allow it settle in and take up residence in our hearts, and causes us to lose sight of the big picture.

However, there is hope and His name is Jesus. Jesus overcomes our discouragement when we relinquish it in to His capable hands, and I believe He can transform it and use it to develop patience in us (and perhaps a hundred other things).

James 5:7-8 says, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” Whenever we feel discouragement settle in, whether it is in regards to our ministry, our calling, our relationships, our finances, our families, or ourselves, we can try and look past it, focus on the Lord and the hope that of the work that God has promised to do in us.

Patience will grow in us when we respect who God is, trust in His timing and remember that He is coming back. Now, we celebrate the first Advent, but we look towards the second Advent when He will come again. It is easy for us (at least it is for me!) when it seems as if things are just not going as I hope or plan, to be discouraged – but I can be short sighted and need to remember that Jesus is coming again and all that is orchestrated now is for my good and His glory.

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