Christian Churches of God

No. 130

 

 

Encouragement and Discouragement

(Edition 1.1 19950812-19980613-20070818)

 

Trials are necessary for our development as Christians, however, they often bring discouragement and despair. To counter this, it is necessary to be able to give and receive encouragement as a tool of love. Encouragement can help motivate a person, give a feeling of self-worth, and promote emotional and even physical well-being.

 

 

Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,WODENACT 2606,AUSTRALIA

 

Email: secretary@ccg.org

 

 

(Copyright 1995, 1998, 2007 CCG, ed. Wade Cox)

 

This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisherís name and address and the copyright notice must be included.No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies.Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.

 

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http://www.logon.org and http://www.ccg.org

 


 

 

Encouragement and Discouragement

 


Encouragement is the means of promoting courage and confidence in another. It can help motivate a person to work through a difficult situation and give hope for a brighter future. Everyone at some time needs encouragement. We should express praise and appreciation to others frequently. Encouragement can help a person work harder and achieve more. It can help to relieve anotherís burden or maybe even change the course of his or her life. The Bible admonishes that we comfort and encourage one another, as indeed God does for those who believe and obey Him.

 

God tests us in order to confirm our faith or prove our commitment. We are in the process of learning to develop Godly character.

 

Romans 5:4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, (RSV)

 

Building character means obedience even in times of suffering. To obey God when we are hurting demonstrates faith. It is easier to obey God when things are going well but the real test comes when we are burdened beyond measure.

 

A supreme example of faith is Abraham. God tested him by asking him to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering (Gen. 22:1ff.). Abraham was prepared to obey God on this, even at extreme pain to himself because he trusted God and knew that his son would be resurrected. But Abraham passed the test of faith and God withdrew the request through the Angel.

 

Genesis 22:12He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (RSV)

 

The story of Job is an example of one manís suffering, obedience and understanding. Job didnít know why this trial came upon him but God allowed the Adversary to test him.

 

After Job lost all his property and children, his friends wept and mourned with him. They comforted him by their presence.

 

Job 2:11-13†† Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eli'phaz the Te'manite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Na'amathite. They made an appointment together to come to condole with him and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from afar, they did not recognize him; and they raised their voices and wept; and they rent their robes and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. (RSV)

 

Job was not alone in facing trials and tribulations. Nor is it the weak that are tried and the strong in the Spirit face no such burdens. The greatest men in the history of Israel faced trials and thought themselves inadequate for the task.

 

The Israelites, on account of the oppression by the Egyptians, were greatly discouraged.

 

Exodus 6:9 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel; but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel bondage. (RSV)

 

Yet, God heard their plight and indeed had used this bondage to multiply them under adversity. He raised a deliverer, yet they would not hear him. As it was with Moses so also it was with Christ.

 

Moses saw himself as inadequate when sent on his mission to the Israelites.

 

Exodus 4:10But Moses said to the LORD, "Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either heretofore or since thou hast spoken to thy servant; but I am slow of speech and of tongue." (RSV)

 

He was given Aaron as a prophet, and he himself was made an elohim to Aaron and to Egypt (Ex. 4:16; 7:1). Yet, still he was discouraged under adversity.

 

When the people lusted for flesh, Moses wilted and started to accuse God.

 

Numbers 11:11-15Moses said to the LORD, "Why hast thou dealt ill with thy servant? And why have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou dost lay the burden of all this people upon me? 12 Did I conceive all this people? Did I bring them forth, that thou shouldst say to me, `Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries the sucking child, to the land which thou didst swear to give their fathers?' 13 Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, `Give us meat, that we may eat.' 14 I am not able to carry all this people alone, the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If thou wilt deal thus with me, kill me at once, if I find favor in thy sight, that I may not see my wretchedness." (RSV)

 

However, God did give Moses the strength to carry the burden. God also made him bring forth the water of the Spirit from the rock Ė that was Christ Ė to save Israel. For this reason Moses could not enter Canaan; not as a punishment, but as an example. Firstly, it was so that the Israelites could not use his bones as an idol. Secondly, it was to show us that we will not enter physical Israel, but rather we will become spirits of the First Resurrection. The discouragement of Moses was often because he did not see far enough ahead.

 

Likewise, when Elijah fled from Jezebel to the wilderness, he sat under a juniper/broom tree and wished to die.

 

1Kings 19:4But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers." (RSV)

 

Elijah was heard by the Lord and he was encouraged. Also, he was given help. He was fed by ravens as an example. He was fed by angels and he was given a vision of the power of God and the way that God works.

 

1Kings 19:7-12And the angel of the LORD came again a second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you." 8 And he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. 9 And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Eli'jah?" 10 He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." 11 And he said, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (RSV)

 

God was not in a mighty wind or in the earthquake, nor in the fire. He was in a still small voice. That voice has worked with Israel and the nations for millennia. Elijah thought he was the only one left. Yet, there were still 7,000 reserved to the Lord. He was told to anoint Elisha. Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit, to rub in the problem that he had with his ego. However, Elijah was the witness to the world and an example of the power of God who sustained him.

 

Another example is that of Jonah. He tried to run away from his task, much like many of us have done. God dealt with him by killing him and resurrecting him as an example of the Messiah to come. God knew what he would do and prepared his redirection. Yet, in spite of this miracle, Jonah decided that he knew better than God and wanted to see the Ninevites perish so that he would not be wrong. After he had preached to the Ninevites, he became discouraged because they were not destroyed.

 

Jonah 4:3,8 Therefore now, O LORD, take my life from me, I beseech thee, for it is better for me to die than to live." Ö 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a sultry east wind, and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah so that he was faint; and he asked that he might die, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live." (RSV)

 

All of these trials served the work of God. Some are easy to see; others are not so easy to recognise. We too may be killed and resurrected in the service of God. We need to make sure we do our job and are in the right resurrection.

 

Regardless of the severity or cause of our trial, we should keep obeying God.

 

Job 2:10But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (RSV)

 

The concept is that we will not be given a burden or temptation that we cannot bear (1Cor. 10:13).

 

God knows our weaknesses, worries, and despair and He will help us.

 

Psalm 103:13-14As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (RSV)

 

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. (RSV)

 

Godís love and mercy transcends all other powers and we should not doubt that.

 

Romans 8:31-39†† What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies; 34 who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (RSV)

 

If God is for us, who can be against us? That does not mean that we are going to get an easy ride. Our bread and water will be sure (Isa. 33:16). That is all that is sure. Whether we live or die is according to Godís purpose.

 

Feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy can easily beset anyone. Discouragement can spring from unrealised expectations that have nothing to do with reality or the Plan of God.

 

Proverbs 13:12Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (RSV)

 

Our goals should be realistic and according to Godís way of life. God gave us a series of social, moral and ethical commands.

 

Zechariah 7:9-10"Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy each to his brother, 10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart." (RSV)

 

We live in stressful times, and the following Scriptures paint a very unpleasant picture of this time.

 

Romans 1:29-31 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (RSV)

 

2Timothy 3:2-3 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, (RSV)

 

David had to deal with unfeeling people.

 

Psalm 69:20Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. (RSV)

 

This sort of thing should not be said of us. We should care, and it should be obvious that we care. We should avoid self-righteous attitudes at all times.

 

We all like to be appreciated and have our work recognised. Appreciation and encouragement are easy to give and they cost nothing. How often do we remember to use these tools? It is easy to discourage others and dampen enthusiasm. The world is full of negative people who are quick to put others down. The little things are the most appreciated. Sending a card or note, giving flowers or a gift, a phone call, a smile, a kind word or a hug all demonstrate encouragement. Sometimes just Ďbeing thereí is enough.

 

The study of Godís word is encouraging because it is God speaking to us.

 

Romans 15:4-5For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, (RSV)

 

Paul knew the importance of encouragement.

 

1Thessalonians 2:11-12for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you 12 to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (RSV)

 

So we should do as Paul says regarding encouragement.

 

1Thessalonians 5:11Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (RSV)

 

God wants His family to be supportive and uplifting of one another.

 

Barnabas, whose name means the son of encouragement (Acts 4:36), was sent by the Church at Jerusalem to Antioch and encouraged all there to remain true to the Lord (Acts 11:23-24).

 

Acts 11:23-24†† When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose; 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord. (RSV)

Note that Barnabas was a good man because he was full of the Holy Spirit and faith.

 

To encourage others we need to be encouraged ourselves, so we should be prepared to accept encouragement. Often people think encouragement in the form of approbation from others is their due. Avoid thinking that continual encouragement must be uncritical. That is a fatal error.

 

Encouragement is perhaps a form of courage. God gave David courage and He will do the same for us.

 

1Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. (RSV)

 

This is in the process of the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

2Corinthians 4:16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. (RSV)

 

Hebrews 10:24-25 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (RSV)

 

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things in him who strengthens me. (RSV)

 

We accomplish all things through Him who strengthens us, that is, through Godís Holy Spirit.

 

As Christians, we should be aware of the troubles of others and know how to reach out and help in a positive way; for there was a time when we did not know Godís promises or understand His Laws. However, God rescued us and brought us from darkness and into His light.

 

Ephesians 2:12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (RSV)

 

Proverbs 3:27Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. (RSV)

 

1Corinthians 13 lists love as Godís greatest gift to us. God freely gives His love and expects us to love others in the same way. John 13:35 makes this very clear.

John 13:35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (RSV)

 

Some hurting people may not be ready to talk about their problems. But we should be accepting of the situation and not judge them for the circumstances in which they find themselves. We need to be capable of sharing good times and bad. The doctrine of Ďsickness equals siní is not a teaching of God. It is a doctrine of demons. People often suffer obvious ills because of their own stupidity. However, often they suffer from the sins of the planet. If a person is sick, it is not because God is judging him or her. This self-righteous teaching is the most discouraging aspect that has been seen among Godís people. We should offer help without judgment according to sin.

 

Romans 12:15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (RSV)

 

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (RSV)

 

Ephesians 4:25Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. (RSV)

 

David mourned with his enemies when they were ill, even fasting for them.

 

Psalm 35:13-14 But I, when they were sick -- I wore sackcloth, I afflicted myself with fasting. I prayed with head bowed on my bosom, 14 as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; I went about as one who laments his mother, bowed down and in mourning. (RSV)

 

No person should face difficult times alone.

 

Job 6:14"He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. (RSV)

 

God deals with us in a warm, encouraging and merciful way in spite of our shortcomings. So our efforts to support others should be positive and uplifting. We can help or hinder by our approach.

 

Romans 15:1-2 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; 2 let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. (RSV)

 

Philippians 2:1-5So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (RSV)

 

We may wonder where God is when we are in the depths of despair and forget the encouragement He gives through a brother or sister. We should be able to see God's love indwelling in another Christian.

 

1John 4:16So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (RSV)

 

Galatians 6:10So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (RSV)

 

Paul was comforted by the arrival of Titus with good news.

2Corinthians 7:6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, (RSV)

 

Christians are the means through which God comforts others.

 

John 17:22-23 The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. (RSV)

 

God deals with each of us in love. Encouragement is a tool of love. That love is the same love that He gave to Christ. It is perhaps difficult for us to comprehend that God has the same love for us as for Jesus Christ.

 

John 17:26I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." (RSV)

 

1John 4:7-8,12Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. ... 12 No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (RSV)

 

Love of one another is not something we have as a discretion. We are commanded to love one another.

 

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (RSV)

 

This love gives, shares, supports and lays down its life. As we mature in Godís love we are required to help others.

1John 3:16-18By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. (RSV)

 

The love of God is seen in the desire to be with those who obey His commands. Our mother and brothers and sisters are those who do the will of our Father in Heaven.

 

Part of love is compassion. Compassion is sympathy with someoneís suffering and a desire to ease the pain. We need to show concern to the point of involvement. For compassion we need empathy and we try to help bear the afflicted personís burden.

 

Christ had great compassion for all men. Examples of Christís compassion are:

 

Matthew 9:36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (RSV)

 

Matthew 14:14As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. (RSV)

 

Matthew 15:32†† Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." (RSV)

 

Luke 7:13And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." (RSV)

 

In these examples Christ rendered help through the performance of miracles in the Holy Spirit through healing the sick, feeding the hungry and comforting the distressed.

 

The story of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37) emphasises the need to extend our hand to help all, not just our fellow brethren. The Samaritan showed compassion through action and not words. It cost the Samaritan time, money and inconvenience to help his enemy. Christ told those listening: ďGo and do likewiseĒ. We should have compassion for those who are suffering, no matter what the cause.

 

How often should we encourage others? It should be daily and continual.

 

Hebrews 3:13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (RSV)

 

Encouragement should be ongoing and it can have a healing effect. With the right approach, we can point people towards our God who is a God of hope. It takes courage to believe in ourselves and trust God and to reach out a helping hand to others. It is difficult to remain encouraged of our own volition. When we obey God He gives us His Spirit so that we might be encouraged daily, if we pray and study the Bible. At times, much is achieved by simply displaying a sympathetic attitude. Sometimes prayer is the only action we can take, but if we can do more we must.

 

Rely on God in Discouragement

 

Discouragement can be triggered by failure to achieve or when we have to make changes in our life that are unfamiliar to us. We can also become discouraged when we donít have a refuge Ė a safe place. In other words, we need someone who understands and listens to us. Discouraged people do not need criticism. It is easy to crush someoneís spirit by the words we speak. Our words can praise God and uplift others or they can destroy and discourage others. We need to make the right choice.

Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (RSV)

 

In Psalm 31, David called on God for deliverance in his time of need and when his friends had abandoned him. As a troubled man, David found refuge in the Lord. With God he felt protected, safe and encouraged.

 

Psalm 31:2Incline thy ear to me, rescue me speedily! Be thou a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! (RSV)

Read all of Psalm 31.

 

Even though we may not receive recognition and encouragement from others, we know God sees all and He has promised to reward us if we persevere in the Christian way.

 

Some examples of Godís encouragement and purpose for us are helpful.

 

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (RSV)

 

Psalm 16:11 ††Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore. (RSV)

 

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. (RSV)

 

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. (RSV)

 

Psalm 37:25 ††I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread. (RSV)

 

1Timothy 6:6-8 There is great gain in godliness with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; 8 but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (RSV)

 

Hebrews 13:15-16Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (RSV)

 

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (RSV)

 

Romans 8:28-30†† We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. (RSV)

 

If we get our minds off the physical and focus on the spiritual we can be confident that we are not alone in lifeís struggles. God gives us what we need to overcome, but we have to do our part.It is up to us to use our lives to Godís glory.

 

1John 2:15-17†† Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever. (RSV)

 

The secret of contentment is not with the things of this world. We are all dependent on God.

 

Philippians 4:11-12Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. (RSV)

 

Disappointments in this physical life should no longer discourage us when we have the proper focus. We will have learned, like Paul, that through our relationship with Christ we can face the setbacks, because we no longer value those things so highly.

 

Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never fail you nor forsake you." 6 Hence we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" (RSV)

 

If God sees we will remain faithful in our weakness, He knows we will always be faithful.

 

2 Corinthians 1:8-10For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. 9 Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; 10 he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (RSV)

 

The correction by God is in loving kindness and mercy. That is so that we will not be discouraged.

Jeremiah 10:24 ††Correct me, O LORD, but in just measure; not in thy anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. (RSV)

 

We can bring our subordinates and our children to despair through discouragement. But the Lord still disciplines and so must we do likewise, but in loving kindness.

Hebrews 12:5-6And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? -- "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." (RSV)

 

God doesnít want us to fail. It is not His purpose that we should stumble through failure.

 

Hebrews 12:2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (RSV)

 

Christís reward, after suffering and death, was to sit at the right hand of the Throne of God.

 

God promises us that we can be sure to pass every trial. The goal is to emerge a better person and closer to God.

 

1Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (RSV)

 

Sometimes it is hard to understand why God allows us to suffer. Neither can we always see the way of escape right away. Some people give up when the pressures become too great and they donít trust God to see them through a trial. Often they donít see His purpose because of the difference in outlook between Him and us.

Isaiah 55:8-9†† For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (RSV)

 

But our great God is a God of comfort and if we do our part, He will do His.

 

2Corinthians 1:3-4†† Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (RSV)

 

The key to escaping from a trial is reliance on God. He may change the circumstances or He may not, but His Spirit will help us to endure.

 

Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (RSV)

 

Trials do not last forever; they are for a season. The important thing is to learn the lesson from the trial.

1Peter 1:6-7In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (RSV)

 

Job understood this:

Job 23:10 ††But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (RSV)

 

God is personally involved in our lives. Each of us is important to God. We are all unique and distinct individuals. David was aware of this.

 

Psalm 139:13-16For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; 15 my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. 16 Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (RSV)

 

David was encouraged by the great power of God.

 

Psalm 29:10-11The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king for ever. 11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace! (RSV)

 

Paul also knew of Godís power and urged us to understand.

 

Ephesians 1:18-19having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might (RSV)

 

Ephesians 6:10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (RSV)

 

Through hardship and suffering we learn to rely on God and trust Him to deliver us. Sometimes it is only when we are brought very low that we seek God.But we should seek Him in both good and bad times. Any test can become a stumbling block if we let it. Satan desperately wants us to fail. We need to fill our minds with Godís Spirit so we donít fall victim to the doubts Satan tries to instil in our minds. When we let our guard down we are easy prey. God is there to help us at all times so, instead of thinking we might fail, we should be optimistic and expect the best.

 

Words of appreciation, encouragement and praise are important to our feelings of self-worth. Positive loving words can promote good health and emotional healing.

 

Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (RSV)

 

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (RSV)

 

Our success comes from our faith in God and our help of each other under the direction of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

 

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