Jul 23, 2013
It’s 1:47 Sunday afternoon.
We had a good Sunday at Mercy Hill. Rich worship. Powerful celebration of Communion. Wonderful testimonies of how God is working. A powerful passage to preach.
But truth is, I’m feeling discouraged. Really discouraged.
I’m committed to being as honest as I can be on this blog. So I thought I’d describe my fight of faith — hoping that my battle might encourage others.
Will I Battle?
That’s the first question. I don’t have to battle. I could just watch TV. Or complain. Or wallow in self-pity.
But I can tell, my discouragement is unbelief. All I’m seeing is my problems — not Jesus. I’m not trusting all God promises to be to me in Christ Jesus.
So what I’m dealing with is sin. And sin is my sworn enemy. Which means I must fight. So here goes —
Where To Start
I’m going to list what’s discouraging me, without sharing too many details —
- Someone is going through a painful crisis.
- Something made me doubt my effectiveness as a pastor.
- Someone did something earlier this week which made me angry.
- Someone made a poor decision which will bring them sorrow.
- Something else didn’t happen which troubles me.
- Something else happened which disappointed me.
- A conversation frustrated me.
I know. That’s pretty vague. But it’s all I can appropriately share.
And yet listing these is helpful. Because now instead of just feeling vague discouragement, I am seeing specific causes of my discouragement. So now I can fight the fight of faith over each one.
Fighting The Fight Of Faith
The fact that I am discouraged shows that my faith is weak.
But I preached this morning on how Jesus is the founder and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2). Which means faith comes from Him, and is strengthened by Him.
So when my faith is weak, I can turn to Him. I can ask Him to strengthen my faith (Mark 9:24). I can pray over Scriptures which He promises will give me faith (Romans 10:17). When I do that, He will give me all the faith I need.
So I’m turning to Him right now. This feels a little strange, but I’m going to write down what I pray —
Jesus, I’m feeling deeply discouraged. Please, forgive me for my unbelief. Forgive me for letting problems blind me to who You are. Thank you that because of the Cross I can confess sin and be fully assured of forgiveness.
As I prayed that, something happened. I’m not feeling any different. But I’m seeing things differently. I’m seeing that no matter what problems I have, since Jesus Christ is infinitely merciful and powerful I have no reason to be discouraged.
I’m seeing that, but I’m not feeling it. So I’m going to keep praying —
Please pour Your Spirit upon me now. Enlighten the eyes of my heart so I can see You more clearly (Ephesians 1:17). Use Your Word to strengthen my faith (Romans 10:17). Guide me to the promises I need to hear.
Praying Over Promises
Now I’m going to find a promise for each discouragement I listed above, and pray over those promises until the Spirit strengthens my faith so I can see and trust Jesus.
1. Someone is in the midst of a painful crisis.
I’m thinking of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 — momentary light afflictions will bring us an eternal weight of glory, because they us look to the unseen, eternal God.
“Father, thank you that You have planned this crisis to bring this person even more joy in Your glory. Comfort them as they go through it. Help them look to you in faith. And as they do, give them a taste of Your glory, and give them hope that more is coming. Help them trust Your loving control in this situation. And please, Father, turn this crisis around for them.”
Praying this promise is changing my heart. I’m still deeply concerned. But honestly, I don’t feel discouraged any more. I know God is in control and that He is going to bring this person even more of His glory through this. And I’ve prayed that He would deliver this person from their problem, so I can trust He will do whatever will bring them more of Him.
One down, six to go.
2. Something made me doubt my effectiveness as a pastor.
I’m remembering 1 Chronicles 28:20, where David says to Solomon — be strong and courageous; do not be afraid; for the Lord God will not leave your or forsake you until all your work is finished.
“Father, you have called me to be a pastor. Thank you that you will help me grow in areas I’m weak, you will enable me to fulfill my calling, and you will even accomplish your work through my weakness. I trust that You will be with me, helping me, until all my work is finished.”
This helps. Instead of just seeing my weaknesses, I’m seeing God. God called me, God equipped me, God will enable me to work hard, and God can use me with my weaknesses to accomplish His work. I’m feeling fresh hope.
Two down, five to go.
3. Someone did something earlier this week which made me angry.
I’m going to pray what Joseph said to his brothers, after they sold him into slavery for decades — “what you meant for evil, God meant for good” (Genesis 50:20).
“Father, what this person did makes me angry. All I’m seeing is the harm this will bring. But at the same time, You meant this for good. Help me know how I should respond. But thank You that You are in complete control, and that great good is coming.”
Instead of seeing just what this person did, Genesis 50:20 is helping me see God and His purposes. That makes a huge difference. This verse helps me trust God’s promise that what this person did was meant by God for good. So as a result, I am feeling encouraged about what He’s going to do with this.
Three down, four to go.
But wait …
I Think I Can Stop Here
Not just because this is getting long. But because I’m now seeing God. I’m seeing that the same God who is in control of the first three discouragements, is in control of the rest.
Now that I am seeing God more clearly, when I look at the rest of my list, I feel peaceful.
I can honestly say, my discouragement is gone. I’m not jumping up and down. But I’m feeling strong. Hopeful.
And thankful — for a God who changes my heart when I seek Him.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Feeling Discouraged Or Hopeless?
- How James 5:16-18 Conquered My Discouragement
- How You Can Escape The Giant Of Despair (from Pilgrim’s Progress)
- How One Word Removed Discouragement
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