As we saw last Sunday, Haggai 2:1-9 contains precious promises for warding off debilitating discouragement. Here are some more thoughts from Scripture for waging war on this paralyzing foe.
Proverbs warns, If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small (24:10). Everyone faces adversity. Prolonged struggles can wear us down. Tragic events can crush us. If we sink under the pressure, it tells us something about our strength quotient. No one wants to admit a shortage of strength, but the potential for that exists almost on any given day.
How do we cultivate a reservoir of strength that stands firm even in seemingly overwhelming adversity? Here are four strategies for waging war on personal weariness and discouragement.
- Understand that perseverance is a matter of obedience. Paul tells the Thessalonians in his second letter, But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good (3:13). The Galatians get the same exhortation: And let us not grow weary while doing good (6:9). Caving in when we encounter obstacles does not glorify God. He calls for pressing on in the fight.
- Consider the example of Jesus in persevering under trial. The writer to the Hebrews tells us to do just that in 12:3 – Consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. Our Lord’s face-like-a-flint march to Calvary under enormous affliction should temper the way we measure the extremity of our own adversities. Ponder the passion. Take courage from His courage.
- Come under the continual hearing of the word of God, especially its promises. Isaiah says, The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary (50:4). Apt words in the right circumstances lift the heart and strengthen the soul. When Paul tells us not to grow weary because we will soon reap if we don’t faint (Gal. 6:9) and to be always abounding in the Lord’s work because it is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58), those promises help douse the fires of discouragement and fan the flames of perseverance.
- Give yourself to persistent waiting on the Lord. Another great promise of the Scripture for the weary comes from Isaiah 40:31 – But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. The Hebrew word for wait comes from root that means twine or string. It’s the idea of strength formed from the intertwining of multiple strands. To wait on God is to intertwine our pygmy-like limited strength with God’s massive unlimited strength so that we gain His power and faint not. Waiting on God involves meditating on His character. The Psalmist says, I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (27:13). Waiting on God involves praying for His help and will. Jesus linked prayer and fighting weariness in Luke 18:1 – Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.
We simply don’t have the resources in and of ourselves to bear up under relentless adversity. We need a battle plan from God to see that we don’t grow faint and fail from limited strength.
John Newton knew something of this. He says this in his essay, The Snares and Difficulties Attending the Ministry of the Gospel:
It is a good and noble cause, and we serve a good and gracious Master who, though He will make us feel our weakness and vileness, will not suffer us to sink under it. His grace is sufficient for us, and if He favors us with a humble and dependent spirit, a single eye and a simple heart, He will make every difficulty give way, and mountains will sink into plains before His power.
Discouragement will not give way in our lives without the fight of faith. Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10).