Saturday, February 9, 2013

Overcoming Discouragement by the Grace of God

8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. –Joshua 1:8-10 (KJV)

The grace of God in Jesus Christ brings peace and calm even in the most difficult storms of life. Rather than cowering in fear we are empowered to walk forward in confident faith. Often the trials we face appear to be insurmountable to the point of causing us to consider giving up. We look at what lies before us and wonder how in the world we will overcome these challenges. The people of Israel faced a similar situation when they began their conquest of the Promised Land. After 40 long years of wandering in the wilderness, the time had come to do what God had been leading them to all along. Joshua, their leader, stood before them with the challenge to not be afraid or dismayed, because the Lord would go with them every step of the way.

Dismayed refers to those dark feelings of doubt and uncertainty which can creep into our thoughts in the face of a new challenge. “Am I really up for this?” We wonder. “What if it doesn’t go right?” All the while we are allowing ourselves to be overcome by doubt and fear. As followers of Christ, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). Faith is walking forward in the power of the Holy Spirit even when all outward circumstances appear to be against us. Failure to do this means surrendering to discouragement. The grace of God in Jesus Christ compels us to keep going rather than quit. Not only are we empowered to move forward, like the Israelites in their taking of the Promised Land, we are also able to do so with blessed peace and calm.

I recall hearing a song many years ago about a man standing on the sidewalk in New York City and feeling the rumbling of the subway underneath his feet. The song then compared his thoughts as tumbling around in his mind like the rumbling of the subway. We can all relate to such feelings. The grace of God, functioning in us, brings peace and calm in the midst of any such troubling thoughts. We are then able to overcome discouragement before it takes hold and pulls us down.

What sort of challenges are you facing right now? Are you worried and fearful of how you will overcome these challenges? Do not forget the divine resources we have through Jesus Christ. We have been given salvation, forgiveness of sin, and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. We have been granted the wonderful grace of God. Remember the grace we have received and claim the peace which results from having Jesus as our Savior, friend, and guide.

Do not be afraid, for the Lord is with us. The mountain you are facing can be moved aside by God’s power. Be at peace, be calm, and let the Lord guide your steps.

God bless you today.