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Kicking Discouragement

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Ephesians 3:12,13[1]

The pandemic has had lots and lots of impacts to our lives. So many things have changed. Things that we once took for granted are either more expensive, harder to get, or just not available. I’m sure that you have your own, personal list

While the price of everything has gone up, bacon has gone on a skyrocket. It’s up 40%. The price of gas at the pump continues to jump up and down, but the overall trend is up. Housing costs also keep going up and up.

Discouragement has come over us like a flood. More and more people feel like the air has been let out of the balloon of their life. The joys of their life have all evaporated.

The Ephesians were down in the dumps because their spiritual leader, Paul, was in prison. The man who lead them to Christ, the one God used to turn their lives right-side up was in a tight place. He was being squeezed by the circumstances of life.

Being in prison, he was tied up, in chains. His whole life had been put on hold. He was hemmed in. He didn’t control his life anymore. He had few, if any, options. He was on a one-way street and there was no way out. There was no escape.

Paul certainly could have ordered them to be upset. To get angry. He could ask them to write letters, or to flood the internet with social media posts about his unfair arrest and treatment. But instead of trying to harness their outrage, he goes in the totally opposite direction.

He tells them not to be discouraged. He doesn’t want them to take their eye off the prize. He wants them to stay focused on Jesus and their living for him.

You see, when we let discouragement come in, it only weakens us. It distracts us to the point that we can’t focus on what’s important. We can’t keep our eye on the ball. We lose courage and become afraid. Discouragement never gives us strength or hope. No, it only saps all our strength and drains our hope.

Paul’s arrest, imprisonment, and sufferings were not the result of poor judgement, bad behavior, or breaking laws. He wasn’t arrested because he was out with the boys breaking the law one night. No, he was arrested because the religious and political leaders were jealous.

If you can believe it, Paul rejoiced in his sufferings[2]. Paul doesn’t want them to fly off the handle. Just the opposite. Paul wants them to stay steady. Like good soldiers, he wants them to stay on guard. Stay at their post. Remain faithful.

His message of encouragement to the Ephesians, and to us, is to stay loyal to Jesus. Don’t stop trying. Don’t let what’s happening in this life slow you down in any way. Don’t give up.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

Philippians 3:13

In our world we’re told to fly off the handle. That it’s OK to not only lash out but find someone to blame. And once we’ve found them, then sue the pants off them. We’ve been told the lie that this will somehow make everything right. Giving us peace in our hearts.

But it has just the opposite effect. As we keep thinking about how they’ve hurt us, the pain and bitterness only grows deeper. Discouragement quickly dives into depression as we spiral downwards.

The message of hope is that Paul’s suffering is not an accident. It’s not a fluke. It’s not a mistake. Paul looks at where he is and knows that God is in control. God can and will use Paul’s suffering for their benefit. For their good.

Can we say the same thing? Can you say the same thing? What do we do when discouragement comes in like a flood? Do we let it eat our lunch or do we take it to God and give it to him?

It may sound strange, but God loves it when we make a present of our discouragement and give it to him. When we turn it over to God, we give him ownership of our discouragement.

This is the only way to kick discouragement out of our life.

Noodling Questions

  • What’s your normal reaction to discouragement and disappointment?

  • How did that habit happen? What steps towards discouragement did you take?

  • What’s stopping you from giving your discouragement and disappointment to God?

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Bible references are from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. [2] II Corinthians 12:5, 10; Colossians 1:24


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