Have you ever been discouraged? Maybe you are discouraged right now. You can be discouraged when negative events happen in your life that make you wonder if it is worth it to keep going on. It seems far easier and less painful to give up and quit rather than to continue and struggle onward through the pain. Think of a runner in a marathon race; the race is very long and he is tired and perhaps in great pain. It would be easier for the runner to stop and sit down by the road rather than push through the pain and continue onward. He wonders if he is even able to finish or if the goal of finishing is worth the suffering he has to go through.
When I think of examples in the Bible of discouragement, I think of the prophet Elijah. The Israelites had turned away from God. But Elijah had just been part of a wonderful miracle which demonstrated the power of God to the Israelites when fire came down from heaven to consume the burnt sacrifice, the wood, the stones of the altar and the water poured on the altar (1 Kings 18:38). Elijah had also prayed that it would rain again after 3 years and 6 months without rain and God had answered his prayer with rain. But now Queen Jezebel had promised to kill him so he was running for his life. He was greatly discouraged. 1 Kings 19:14 “And he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’” God basically told him that he should not be discouraged. 1 Kings 19:18 “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” Elijah was discouraged and thought that everything was lost. But it wasn’t true. God preserved his life and told him that there were seven thousand righteous that he didn’t know about. He shouldn’t have been discouraged.
During the ministry of Jesus, He taught some doctrines which were difficult to understand or accept. One doctrine was that an individual must eat His flesh and drink His blood to be His disciple. Some of His disciples did not understand and thought this was a hard doctrine. John 6:66-69 “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ But Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” When you become discouraged as a Christian, remember Peter’s words. To whom shall you go? Where else is there a promise of eternal life but through following Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God? There is no other path for you to eternal life. Like the discouraged marathon runner, you must pick yourself up and push on to the goal. Eternal life is worth whatever you have to go through in this life.
You must continue in the faith. Colossians 1:21-23 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Hebrews the 11th Chapter is filled with people who could have been discouraged but chose not to give up. Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Even Jesus could have been discouraged when He faced the suffering and shame of the cross. Instead, He looked beyond the cross to the joy set before Him. You too must look beyond whatever discourages you to the joy set before you.
Don’t just think about yourself and how you might be discouraged. Think about other brothers or sisters in Christ that might be discouraged. One reason for not forsaking the assembly is so that you can encourage and exhort them. Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
I encourage you to not be discouraged. Never give up!