Climbing the Mountain of Discouragement

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It’s been a while…but I’m still here.  I’ve been discouraged.  Do you ever get that way?  In the midst of living life and doing God’s work, there are things that just bring discouragement.  I’m there.  It’s not just one thing, but more like a host of things.  I know God is still good and He is faithful.  I don’t doubt that, but in the midst of the outside forces pushing in around me, I get discouraged.  Like most of you have probably experienced, our Christian walk is full of mountains and valleys and the roads in between.  I feel like I’m on that road in between.  I’m not in a dark valley, where I have been before, feeling hopeless and defeated.  I’m not on a mountain top where I feel like I’m basking in the presence of my Savior and no one can touch me.  I’m in between.  I’m on the road heading up the mountain and I’m tired and the top just seems so far away.  Ever been there?

God has been doing some amazing things in my life and giving me opportunities to stand for Him.  I’ve been given speaking opportunities and chances to gather with other believers and stand for our freedoms.  On those days, I feel like I’m on the mountain top; mostly.  I’ve found though, that when you are doing what you are called to do and being obedient to Christ, it comes at a cost.  The cost is a target on your back.  We have a real enemy in this world and he knows his time is short.  And because his time is short, he is aiming for the biggest threats to his agenda.  So if you want to be left alone, continue doing nothing.  If you are like me and you also see that time is short and you are not willing to go down without a fight-get ready!

Discouragement comes from so many different places but I will lump them into three categories.  These are the places that seem to be getting to me.  First is the world.  That includes the world as a whole, our country, our leaders, people in society; basically those outside of your personal realm.  Then there is relationships.  This is the sphere of people that have a direct influence on you and your everyday life.  Lastly, would be circumstances.  Those would just be those things that happen to you and are usually out of your control.

So first, I want to talk about the world.  Holy cow!  What a mess we are in!  It is nearly impossible to turn on your TV, radio, or social media and not be bombarded by the depravity of the world.  It’s downright depressing.  Besides the all out war to see who can be the most corrupt, there seems to be very few sources that are reliable, and don’t have an agenda, to get the truth from.  There is always two sides (or more) to every story, but it seems that what we hear is very one sided and very, very wrong.

2 Peter 3:3 says, “First of all, you must understand in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.”

Boy does it ever feel like as a Christian, people are constantly scoffing at us?  It’s everywhere!

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Phil. 4:8.

Really?  Seriously?  Where are these things in our world?  People in our society don’t even seem to know what these words are, let alone how to live them out or think about them.  And there in the world lies my discouragement…

Then there is relationships.  We all have those people in our lives that have the gift of discouragement.  The funny thing is, they don’t even seem to realize it.  They can be friends, relatives, coworkers, even fellow church members, but these are the people you can’t get away from.  They may even be well meaning in their actions, yet still manage to bring uninvited discouragement.  When I was thinking about this the other day, I was trying to think about Jesus and what He did in those situations.  Two came to mind.  The first is in Mark 3.  Jesus was in full swing in His ministry.  The crowds were constantly following Him and He didn’t seem to have a moment’s peace.

“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'” vs. 21

I’m sure they had the best of intentions.  They truly thought that He needed their help and they went to provide it-uninvited and unrequested, I might add, non-the-less.

This is how Jesus responded, “A crowd was sitting around him and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’  ‘Who are my mother and brothers?’ he asked.  Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.'” vs. 32-34

Sometimes you just have to look around and see who is really on your side, let them in close, and keep the rest outside.

The other story that came to mind was Jesus and His relationship with Peter.  Peter was a good guy, but boy was he ever putting his foot in his mouth.  Again, he had good intentions.  He was one of Jesus’ chosen disciples, after all, but old habits die hard and Satan was still able to use him on occasion.  It happens to the best of us.  On one particular occasion in Matt. 16, Jesus was explaining to the disciples that He was going to suffer and die and on the third day be raised from the dead.  This obviously did not sit well with Peter.

“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’  Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'” vs. 22-23

Peter did not realize the words he was saying were a “stumbling block” to Jesus.  Like Jesus, there are so many times those closest to me say things that make me want to say, “Get behind me, Satan!”  And there is where relationships cause my discouragement…

Finally, circumstances.  As the world turns, life goes on and things happen.  When things start happening out of our control and start piling up, it leads to discouragement.  What I have found is that it doesn’t have to be big things.  Most of the time, it’s not big things for me.  It is the everyday busyness, stress, messy house, lack of sleep, running on empty that gets me discouraged.  It’s in the tenth time of telling my kids to pick up their mess.  It’s in the argument I have with my husband, where we can’t seem to find common ground.  It’s in the things at work that just don’t seem to be going as planned.  In the midst of those things, it’s hard to see the good.  It’s hard to remember John 16:33,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may find peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

And that is why in the midst of circumstances I find discouragement…

Though I’m in a time of discouragement, I know I won’t stay there.  God has work for me to do and I will do it, because that is what He called me to do.  I will still have bad days and tough relationships.  It comes with the territory.

Matt. 5:11-12 NLT says, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!  Be very glad!  For a great reward awaits you in heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”

So, I will lift my head, pull up my big girl panties, and put a smile on my face, because “If God is for me, who can be against me?” Rom. 8:31  If you are there too, climbing the mountain of discouragement, will you join me?  Keep pressing on.  Keep fighting the good fight.  Keep looking up, because our redemption draws near!  Even so, come Lord Jesus, come!

Blessings in the Battle!

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