Discouragement

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Scriptural Reference:
1
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

2
"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
Matthew 6:6 ESV

3
"Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD."
Psalm 27:14
4
ďAnd when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
Matthew 6:16-18 ESV

Reflection:
We live in a World that can be extremely random. Unexpected events can take place. People can and do things without warning or logical reason. Though we may attempt to plan for any conceivable event we can still be frustrated. Finances that were once stable can despair without a trace. Debts that were kept in check could mount so high that it becomes impossible to see past the pile of credit letters on the table. These things happen to everyone.

"[T]hat you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
Matthew 5:45 (NIV)

So how do Christians come to terms with discouragement and disasters? Some would tell Christians to smile and pretend it isn't real. While others will tell Christians to embrace the pain and shout out praises to God. The first smacks of denial while the second can make the Christian look like a Sadomasochist. Perhaps neither is a suitable response. What is to be presented is hoped to be a more realistic approach that is meant to work with the challenge in constructive ways.

The first mentioned is denial. To deny that we are experiencing discouragement. This approach has been considered to be unhealthy. Even amongst non Christian practitioners of psychiatry will explain that to deny the experience of negative emotions is to suppress them or bottle them up. Which will have a long term affect of creating internal angst. The reality of the situation is that Christians will experience negative or depressed time just as non Christians will. To deny them will eventually lead to emotional and spiritual complex problems. Issues that will negatively affect the relationship we have with God and with other Christians.

The second mentioned is one that sounds very much like a co-dependent relationship. Where the problem is given more importance than required. But in a transversally negative way. People who tend to follow this path will seem oddly happy when they are being tested. Cheerful ion the face of adversity does not mean eager to eagerly a expect the pain of negative experiences. For some the chance to be tormented can become more important than the lesson that may be learned. Satan can use this as a way of creating an ego based concept of faith. Where the individual may feel a sense of self value based on the constant challenges they face. Pointing out how blessed they are to keep struggling as it may seem they are the ones who can prove how well they survive.

While the third is formed through scripture. The concept of life not being a bed of roses with out thorns is explained when Jesus tells us how we will find ourselves challenged. Not for our sake but for his names sake. We are assured in Psalms that God is with the broken hearted. That he is not far from those who suffer life's discouragement's and trials. A reassurance that should calm the most troubled of hearts. We are also assured that if we are in need we can take our prayers to God through Jesus. How we do this is not to make such prayers loud and boisterous as the non believers do. But in private and between God and ourselves. As the scripture tells us in Matthew 6:6, we are to talk with God in such privacy so that he will assist us. It than becomes a real test of our faith that we can wait on the Lord for his promised answer. As Psalm 27:14 tells us to do so. If we truly trust God than we should truly be ready to quietly take our prayers to God and leave them with him. As al things may be done in Gods time not mans.

How should we act and present ourselves when being tested by such discouraging trials and personal tribulations? I would suggest that we do this in the same way as we are instructed to Fast. As explained in Matthew 6:16-18 which tells us to Fast privately and not to make a show of it. In this same matter it may be also reasonable to pray as well. To not openly act like nothing is wrong. Nor to walk around in a constant state of doom and gloom. But to live life quietly and modestly. Leaving our prayer for assistance between God and ourselves. Trusting that what we take to God in private will be blessed and assisted also in private and with the assurance of the Holy Spirit.

In closing, the first two smack of either denial or self assuredness. While the third opens the way for prayerful guidance and assurance of Gods faithful blessings for our faithful trust.

Prayer:
Lord,
I know that life is not always going to be;
Perfectly simple,
Without trials,
Free of stress,
A bed of roses.
But in the private conversation I seek;
Comfort of your word,
Assurance of your Spirit,
Acceptance of your Will.
Thank you Father for your Grace.


Amen