Feeling Discouraged?

Discouragement. Apparently renowned church leader John Stott admitted this was one of his greatest challenges. Everyone, even the most saintly and godly of people can suffer with this. Discouragement.

Many things fuel discouragement, and different people find different things discouraging. And this is in normal times; and we all know these aren’t normal times. This COVID-19 season can be particularly discouraging, with its ups and downs, ongoing uncertainties and understandable ways that people react to how it is affecting them.

If you have never been discouraged you are a remarkably positive person or you have never realised how serious is the ministry to which you have been called. In 2 Cor 3 that ministry is spelt out – we are all ministers of reconciliation, people who with a knowledge of the love of God and work of Jesus, share that love and redemption with others so they can be reconciled and be friends again with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So what do we do?

Paul writes ‘we do not lose heart’ twice in 2 Corinthians 4. At the start of the chapter he gets us to look back, to remind us of God’s mercy. We don’t have our ministry because we are great, we have it because God is great and merciful. Then in verse 7 he reminds us that we have this treasure in jars of clay, so we depend on God’s all surpassing power. Because of who God is, we do not lose heart.

And at the end of the chapter he gets us to look forward to the day that is to come, to an eternal glory that outweighs all our light and momentary troubles, and to the renewing presence of the Spirit. Because of who is in us, and where we are going, we do not lose heart.

Both of these are about perspective. Does this prevent discouragement? No. It will come, and it is wise to acknowledge it, share how we are feeling with others, ask for help. But it does give us a way to approach discouragement, to keep it in perspective.

We are in this because of God, and he hasn’t given up, even if we may feel like doing so.

Feeling discouraged today. You are not alone. May I encourage you to do two things. Set aside a few minutes to read 2 Corinthians 3 & 4. Then pour your heart out to God and to someone you trust. Reconnect with whose you are, who is within you, and where you are going. And then with all you can muster… Keep going, keep shining the love of God into this world.

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