Monday, November 22, 2010

Overcoming the Smothering Grip of Discouragement

For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.  -I Thessalonians 2:1 (NKJV)

One of the greatest hindrances to the work of the ministry is the false belief that our labors for the Lord are in vain.  According to the Word of God, when we follow God’s will and are faithful to His Word, then our labor will not be in vain.  One problem is that we want results and we want them right now.  I believe this explains why people so often enjoy doing yard work.  The results are immediate; you can tell right away that you have accomplished something.  The work of the gospel ministry doesn’t always work like that.  Sometimes it takes many years for the fruit of our labors to be realized.  This is where we can become discouraged and falsely believe that we aren’t accomplishing much or anything at all.  Does the devil want us to become discouraged?  The answer is, of course, that he does.  We must stand firm and not give into discouragement. 

The work among the Thessalonians was difficult and exhausting, but in no way was it in vain.  Paul was not about to give into the smothering grip of discouragement.  Paul knew something about what can happen when a person gets discouraged.  Consider the case of John Mark, a young man whom Paul had taken under his wing.  Look at the events of Acts 15:36-41.  That had to be a disappointing time for Paul, because John Mark had such promise.  However, we find that the rift between them was later resolved and healed.  John Mark gave into the darkness of discouragement, but later he came back into the work of the ministry.  The words of Colossians 4:10 and II Timothy 4:11 demonstrate this to be true.

To me, this is one of the all time great success stories of the Bible.  Mark had become discouraged and had walked away from the ministry for a time.  However, he eventually came back and is known in the Word of God for being faithful.  God is very forgiving and full of grace and compassion. So much so that one who becomes discouraged and fails can be restored and go on to serve the Lord in dynamic fashion.  That is what John Mark did.

Have you been feeling discouraged?  Have you considered walking away from your service to God?  If so stop now and remember that the Lord is full of grace and compassion.  Christ can re-energize and revitalize your faith and devotion to Him.  Open your heart and let the Lord do this today.  In Christ discouragement is overcome.

You are a vital part of God’s kingdom.  

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