If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6 (NLT)
Last week I wrote about the discouragement my husband and I have both been experiencing and so many of you responded with prayer, reminders of God's goodness, and encouragement.
Some times we do need those reminders and admonitions to stand firm. I spent a lot of time in prayer and reading about faith. What really popped out at me as I was praying, reading blog posts, and listening to Christian teaching on the internet and television is this very important truth.
Discouragement is a lack of faith or dissatisfaction with God.
When you think about it honestly, this makes sense. When experiencing discouragement I find it's often because circumstances or plans don't seem to be moving along as quickly as I believe they should, the answer I desire isn't apparently forthcoming, or life gets difficult…even painful. Let's be honest…nobody likes going through that kind of stuff. We want everything to fit together in a nice package exactly when and where we deem best and according to our internal schedule. This is where the enemy can begin to whittle away, playing on fears, casting doubt in our mind that God really cares.
These are the seeds of dissatisfaction and can grow into discouragement.
Discouragement trains the focus away from God and onto ourselves. Isn't that just what the enemy wants? How better to stall our lives, weaken our faith, or derail our growth into mature Christians? By focusing on our weaknesses, struggles, or personal agendas we are taking our eyes off the one we are meant to rely on for all of our needs. Discouragement essentially sets us up on our own minds to be the one in charge and this leads to double-mindedness….trusting two very different masters.
God forgive me for being double minded.
Encouragement reminds us who God is.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 42:5-6a
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9
Whatever our situation…however difficult or tiresome, no matter how long it takes to see forward movement or completion…God will respond when the proper time comes for His will to be revealed in our lives, if we don't give up.
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)
These verses from 2 Peter are addressing the return of the Lord Jesus, however, I believe we can apply the principle (understanding God's timing is different from our reality) in regard to waiting on God to move in our lives or answer prayer. God's view is significantly larger than our own and recognizing that God sees the bigger picture in our lives can help us remember He's not ignoring our pleas or rejecting our plans but waiting for optimum execution of His perfect will.
One of my favorite parables taught by Jesus is the widow and the judge. Talk about tenacity! The woman in this story needed to see justice but rather than taking the situation into her own hands, she continually sought the judges authority and final verdict on the matter. In the same way, we are to pray persistently, knowing that God will act on our behalf and in our best interest because He is good and He loves us. As mentioned above in James 1:5-6, God does not rebuke us when asking Him for wisdom (as we know, a mustard seed of faith is plenty big enough for God) but He does require we believe He will answer, no matter how long it may take to actually see the fruit of His response in our lives.
In the meantime, we focus on God's mercy and grace. We encourage and lift up one another's faith and we stand firm in the knowledge of God's goodness and promise to provide all we need from His unrivaled provision.