Everyone deals with discouragement. Everyone deals with mishaps, failures and grief. Unfortunately it is a part of life this side of heaven. In my own life the last many years have been filled with many discouragements. I transitioned from an unhealthy failed marriage, laid down a career as a physician, battled a number of illness, financial struggles, etc. The road has been far from perfect or easy. The more I talk with others the more I hear people voice struggles with discouragement and challenges. Being a believer in Christ does not mean we do not battle discouragement.
This week I fretted over how long to renew my lease, agonized over whether the apartment would allow me to renew my lease with my given income, wondered how the bills would get paid, yet was thankful for a full afternoon of tutoring session that would significantly help with the needed income only to be in the middle of my first session for the day when a stormed rolled in and the power shut off.
I sat alone in the dark, no power, for the 3rd time in two weeks having to cancel a full days tutoring due to power outages. Plus I had been concerned by the lack of healthy, loving, life giving relationship that makes me he feeling like I am loving others with no one to love me. I had debated cutting down on such activities given it did not seem to be helping my discouragement.
Yes I had been dealing with a load of discouragement. The issues I was facing are a real reality. The knowledge that God is over all of those things made me feel unloved by God.
The Bible has much to say about dealing with discouragement. Jesus never tells us that we will not face discouragement. Rather he instructs us to take heart he has overcome the world. What discourages us in this life are almost always things of this world. Health, relationships, finances, jobs, family, children, etc. These are real challenges we face that wear us out and weigh us down. It does not help us to focus or dwell on the struggles and discouragement. So what should we do?
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
I started singing a little song to my dog Itsy. It went something along the lines of “God loves me so that I can love you.” I was repeating it over and over. It was a reminded that God did love me. I needed the reminder.
It is out of the love and blessing God gives us that we can pour out love to others. I did not feel very capable of loving, yet I was reminded that the dog food bin still had food, I had worked on cleaning Itsy’s teeth quite against her liking earlier in the day, she had her flea and heat worm prevention for the month and I was lying on my bed playing with her, laughing with her and giving her belly rubs. Telling her how much I loved her. She was taken care of and quite content.
Furthermore, although my attempts at urban gardening on a apartment patio have been less productive than I would have liked it has been a rather cheap hobby, filled with my learning experiences. I have learned many dos and don’ts. And despite the struggles I harvested my first two okra, have an abundance of garden cress micro greens and some green beans almost ready to be harvested. God did not send me a harvest as bountiful as I wanted or when I wanted it but we was indeed faithful.
We should not dwell on what is discouraging us. We offer it in prayer to Jesus. Trust he hears us in our times of need and the we dwell on the love of Christ. It may be unseen. But with faith and hope we can trust that whatever we go through Christ love for us is eternal and will not lead us astray.
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