In a few blessed lives, uninterrupted joy seems to fill every day. For the rest of us, life is a series of ups and downs. One day, we get an unexpected check in the mail. Another day, it’s an unexpected bill to pay. While spiritual maturity can even out our roller coaster ride, there remain seasons of life that are not pleasant ones.
When my mother was going downhill physically and mentally to a lesser degree, it was easy to fall into pessimism about the future. Many of the happiest times of my life were spent with family and friends in her living room. While I knew God will always take care of me, it didn’t prevent some melancholy times thinking about all I would lose when she exited.
Although very different circumstances, my life included a significant period of unemployment right after graduation from college. Though I had done what life expected of me and finished a four-year degree, there were no professional jobs available.
Fear and Discouragement are Best Friends
Discouragement came knocking on my door. Each time I fought off the negative feelings, my resolve got a little weaker. Would I ever be able to move out of my parents’ house and make my way in the world? Fear is best friends with discouragement. They went to the prom together. Many times, our melancholy relates directly to our fears.
Merriam-Webster.com defines discourage as “to deprive of courage or confidence: dishearten…to dissuade from doing something.” The enemy of our lives and souls wants to dissuade us from doing something. He wants to keep us from the things God has planned for us.
The good news is that God has another plan. “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) God wants to take us in His big arms and hold us close when we are discouraged. He does this by rebuilding our defenses as we read His Word.
Deuteronomy 31:6 was written to people who needed to get their courage in gear. “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Sometimes, God will immediately fix our problems. About eight months into my post-college misery, I was asked to travel to Chicago for a job interview. This gave me new hope and one month later resulted in a job which began my Federal career of 35 years.
In other situations, God will give us grace and courage through prolonged difficult times. “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10