As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him. 3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” 4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! 5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and 6 my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar. 7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. 8 But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. 9 “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” 10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?” 11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
As Augustine said, “We find no rest until we rest God”. The human soul cannot survive the storms of life unless it is anchored in something greater than it self. The soul that rest upon itself will sink in the storm. Christ is the anchor of the soul and it is He who carries us through the storms of life. We are buoyed in Him and He keeps us from sinking in a sea of depression and misery. We long to see Him in the storm and to know that He is near. Matthew Henry once said, “To be in the presence of the Lord is the desire of the upright, as it is the dread of the wicked.” We all like sailing when the seas are calm but whether on land our sea, we have some ups and downs and at times our world is shaken. During these turbulent times we are prone to doubt, to be discouraged, to lose our confidence. Like a ship in the midst of the sea, the human heart is assailed by many things: turbulent times, taunting enemies of the faith, doubt, fear grief, loneliness and just the feeling of being forgotten. Sometimes it is just the feeling of being small, like a ship in the middle of the sea. How could my life mean anything to the grand scheme?
It is at this point that there are things we must remember….
FIRST — DISCOURAGEMENT is always of the devil.
Note these scriptures–
When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. [Rom. 1:12]
If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. [Rom. 12:8]
Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. [2 Cor. 13:11]
I have sent him [Tychicus] to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. [Col. 4:8]
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. [I Thes. 5:11]
Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. [2 Timothy 4:2]
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. [Heb. 10:25]
We must recognize the source of discouragement. No where in scripture does the word of God attribute discouragement to the LORD. Every verse above and there are many more are about encouraging one another. Imagine the writer of Hebrews saying, “Don’t concern yourself about being faithful in worship attendance. It will discourage those that are being faithful and this is good.” Or Paul saying to the Colossians, “I have sent Ty to discourage you.” Ask yourself this question: why did Paul put so much emphasis on encouraging each other? I think the answer is simple: because we are easily discouraged. Matter of fact, it does not take that much to discourage most of us. The world taunts us, the flesh is always pulling us down and the devil is firing those fiery darts of doubt. All believers need encouragement. Take these 13 new Christians we have at DBC, what if next Sunday morning, they were the only ones who showed up? Do you think that would be discouraging? It would be devastating.
Brooks Faulkner, a Leader Care counselor, estimates that nearly 100 SBC pastors leave their ministry every month. Why is this? Some of it is moral failure but a lot of it is what they call burnout which is extended discouragement. First of all, I get quite a bit of encouraging from members and friends and I am thankful but I learned a long time ago that you have to determine where the criticism is coming from. God uses criticism to help us but the devil uses it to destroy us. Good criticism is anchored in a heart of love, destructive criticism is intended to discourage and it always of the devil. Once you know the source, you can deal with what is being said. A man confronted me many years ago with an accusation. He had heard a rumor and he told me that he had a good source. I said, “I know the source.” He argued, “You cannot know the source.” I said, “I assure you that I know the source. What you heard is a lie and all lies originate with Satan and that makes him the source.” He just grunted. This principle is not only true of gossip and rumor, it is true of discouragement. Anyone who intentionally tries to discourage a child of God is being used by Satan.
SECOND: Your personal worth is determined not by your performance or your accomplishments but rather by the price that was paid for your redemption.
Someone said it like this, THE CROSS is your barometer; it is how you measure God’s love for you. Charles Allen says that “No person created in the image of God is useless.” I think it was Elisabeth Elliott who said, “No one who can perform an act of kindness toward another is useless.” We live in a gigantic universe and at times it’s immensity can make us feel rather small. But created us and crowned us with glory and honor [Psalm 8] and that is said of no other creature other than man.
Getting encouragement from others is important but even more important is to understand our relationship with Christ. You need to know who you are in Christ. If you are convinced that He loves you unconditionally and that He values more than He did life: that in itself will change the way you think. I am not a loner: I do enjoy solitude but I like to pick and choose the spots. I enjoy the company of my wife, my children and grandchildren. I cannot imagine a world without them but I can live with their disapproval. There are times when they get angry we me but that does not change my course. I know what Christ has called me to do and I must do it with or without any one’s approval or encouragement. We must maintain our vertical alignment with Christ.
THIRD–Remember, You are needed.
There is something that needs to be done that will not be done unless you do it. God has put you in a unique position: there is no one else on planet earth that has your positioning, conditioning and gifting. The question you need to ask is: “What is it God wants me to do that only I could do?”
FOURTH–Remember, you are empowered.
God has given you a will. You can be what you choose to be. Recently a woman came up to me and just blessed me out. She said several things and none of them were nice or encouraging. When she finished, she threw her head up, wheeled around and marched off. I was standing there is shock. I think my only verbal response was “well.” She is filled with bitterness and she blamed me and others for the way she feels. You choose the way you feel. If you are determined to be discouraged, I can’t help you. If your life goal is to be bitter and sour, no one is going to change you. Ruth was sweet and adorable because she choose to be sweet and adorable. Naomi was bitter because she choose to be bitter. You say, “Naomi had lost a husband and two sons,” and I would say “Ruth had lost a husband and never knew the joy of having a son.” Naomi is your classic example of the person who believes “My problems are worse than your problems.” Problems are problems and grief is grief and everyone has them. Self-pity will destroy the greatest among us
FIFTH–Last but certainly not least…Remember you have an Awesome God to turn to, to trust.
David said, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” First of all: no problem is bigger than God. When I get down and discouraged, I go to God. I get alone and pray. I talk to my maker and redeemer.
Most of us have flown on commercial jets and those who have flown quite a bit know that you can get into turbulent weather. We got into a little on our last flight to Guatemala. The captain spoke to us over the intercom and reminded us to stay buckled. He said, “We have encountered some turbulence and we don’t know where it came from. We have not seen any bad weather on the radar and there are no other air craft near us so its a bit of a mystery but just stay in your seats and hopefully we will get through it shortly.” I’ve been in a lot of turbulence for worse than that day and I have never heard that particular speech. I was on a flight from Atlanta to Huntsville back in 1986 and it is only a 30 minute flight but we got in a thunderstorm. The captain came on and informed us that even though it was a short flight and not normal, we were going to go higher and fly over the storm which he did, thank goodness. This is good advice: when you are in a storm go higher. Go to the one who is greater than the storm.
[For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.]