Stay Encouraged

Though we aren’t in the 1920’s era anymore, many today are living under a great depression. Numerous people are burdened by the weight of discouragement or disappointment or depression. Life has simply not been fair, right? Relationships have gone sour, children have gone astray, some are tired of being single (or even of being married), careers are shattered — we’re unable to overcome the vice grip that life has on us and victory is a far-fetched dream. If you’re in this situation right now, let me at least tell you this: you’re not alone. The Bible is full of different men and women who have been discouraged, for instance, Job, Jonah, David, and Paul. Discouragement can lead to depression which can then lead to despair. And if you’re not in it right now, you might know someone who is battling the survival of the soul.

How do you make it until change comes?

     The Book of Hebrews is written to people — specifically Jewish Christians, but to you and me as well — who are giving up and ready to quit.
“Following Christ is too hard.”
“I’m losing friends and/or property.”
“My loved ones are in jail for their faith.”
“My world is shattered.”
“I want to go back to where I came from, back to being a slave, even if it’s for an evil ruler, because it’s familiar and at least I know I can manage.”
The author of Hebrews is insisting that you or I never go back to where we came from before Jesus came into our lives. It’s worth it to keep going even if you feel like stopping and turning around to go the other way.

Jesus is worth traveling all the way for.

     “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Then he adds: “Their sin and lawless acts I will remember no more.”“ Hebrews 10:16-17. There is a new agreement that God has made with you to cover you, and it’s called a covenant, or a contract. God would much rather forgive than punish; He wants to love and accept, and as a result, we have the option to be wrapped in total forgiveness and enter into the presence of God. Instead of going backwards, go forwards. Despite the temptation to digress, boldly enter the place of God (v.19.) Oftentimes, we can choose to stay discouraged because we don’t take advantage of access to our Father like we should. It is your God-given right, if you know Jesus, to enter the presence of God (v. 22).

     Sometimes I know that I, myself, want to tidy up my life before presenting it before God, which is the exact opposite of what He wants you to do. Nothing vague or cute or tidy. It’s not as if you’re going to totally shock and blow God away with the news of you life. He already knows, so lay it all out before Him. Lay your pain and discouragement, the sense of unfairness and bleak situations stretched out in His presence. The temptation is to shrink away, to get out, to stay away from God, even during dark and hopeless times. Especially when you don’t feel like making contact with heaven is the most critical time to draw forward. In the beginning of verse 22 says that Jesus wants you to draw near. Don’t let your feelings dictate your actions. In James 4:8, Psalm 145:18, and Psalm 73:28 say that same thing. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you — not as just a believer, but as a follower of Jesus Christ.

And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. — Hebrews 6:15,
New International Version

     There is a gap between God’s promises and His fulfillment. Different horses for different courses. God may not tell you when He’s going to fulfill His promise, but once He‘s made it, He‘s going to come through with it because He is unwilling and cannot lie. If you shrink back rather than drawing near because of discouragement, what has resulted is a lengthened time between the promise and the fulfillment of that promise. Some haven’t seen God move yet because the Promised is moving instead in the wrong direction.  You can only go backward or forward as a Christian. There is no middle ground. Similar to a swimmer, if you’re not moving forward and you think you‘re doing nothing, you’re actually moving backward. The waves won’t keep you in the center of the water forever, so you’re going to float somewhere. God is faithful. He’s not only preparing the promise, but developing your character. It took Abraham 25 years because he wasn’t ready for the promise to be fulfilled. It works the same way with people as it does with God. For example, If I’m working at a company for the first time, it wouldn’t make sense for them to place me in a CEO position right away. It takes time to gain knowledge and familiarity and understanding of certain processes and operations. It’s similar with God. God won’t waste his investment on someone that isn’t ready to receive it. Develop rather than delay. That simple.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. — Acts 20:28,
New International Version

     Unfortunately, we’re subject to discouragement or depression in life because of the evil in the world. However, part of the church’s job is to plan on how to stimulate believers to keep going (v. 24-25). We should be motivating each other. You should go to church partly for motivation you can acquire from other believers. If you don’t need motivation and the days are sunny for you — your day is coming. Don’t act like you’re beyond bad times. Job was a righteous and upright man, yet he had everything snatched from him and it was all taken at once. Life has a way of showing up and showing off when you least expect it — just ask Job. He didn’t receive an e-mail or a newsletter or any sort of warning that he was about to lose his children, his possessions, and even his health. So if you don’t need encouragement today, remember to encourage someone else during their trials and dark times so that you might not be lonely when those times come upon you.
We live in a selfish generation. People want to know what’s in it for them and only them. Let me take care of me, myself, and I first, then maybe I’ll remember you and your needs, right? “It’s mine! Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!“ is the mantra constantly repeated by much of society. There is nothing wrong with desiring and attaining certain things, but where are the prayers like, “Lord, show me who I can bless today,” or “Put someone in my path to lift up to You and encourage” said as prominently in today‘s culture? When you connect with people, you connect with God. Jesus says when you care for other believers, or for the sick, or for those in jail, or for the poor, you’ve done it for Him. When you’re discouraged, try loving someone else. Tell someone that you care about them. It’s possible to tell the truth with or without love. For instance, if you’re stuck in a hole and wishing to get out, the last thing you need is for someone to pick up a shovel and continue to bury you while you’re in the hole. You’d want them to get a rope and help pull you out, no? (Romans 15:4-6)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. —
Hebrews 3:13, New International Version

     Sin will keep you lagging behind and in a wandering state deviated from the path you‘re supposed to be on. Sin delays the promise, as mentioned before, and it also displeases God. You and I need people who love and care for each other enough to help one another off the rabbit trail sin has lead us and back towards God’s promise. Keep moving others forward. Looking behind at what you came from may seem like a sweet invitation to go back, however, in spite of your failure, in spite of your shortcomings, God still cares about you and loves you so much at the place you‘re at now. He knows you want to quit and throw in the towel. He knows you’re hurting and in pain, but God believes in you. If you keep your eyes off the pain and regret and on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of your faith, who can clear the way for you, you can keep going.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. — Jeremiah 29:11, English Standard Version

***As featured on TheDirtyChristian.com/StayEncouraged