I got dumped on my 19th Birthday. I was devastated. Normally that would have been a good time to go to the leader of our college ministry for help and advice. I say normally because the week before the leader abruptly stepped down because of problems in his marriage. The Bible Study group had been the center of my life for 2 years, meeting twice a week. In a matter of just a few days I had no girlfriend, no college group and it seemed no hope. I didn't have much money as I only had a part-time job and I didn't have much of a future as I was not in college. As I looked at my life there was very little to feel good about. I was so depressed that every area of my life suffered. I am amazed I didn't lose my job as my performance was terrible. I was deeply discouraged and yet out of that experience came a lesson that has endured for the remainder of my life.
One day I was praying, explaining to God how miserable my life was (as if he did not already know!). As I prayed a question came to my mind, “Which one of these life events has taken Jesus down from his position in heaven and stuck Him back in the tomb?”
“None of them,” I answered myself.
Another question came to mind, “So what is your problem?”
In that moment I learned the most important way to deal with discouragement, the way emphasized by the writer of Hebrews 12. The most important way to avoid discouragement is to maintain a proper focus. The writer of Hebrews instructs us to “Fix our eye on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our Faith, who, for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of God.”
He tells us we are to look to Jesus, who:
is the basis, the beginning, source and fulfillment of our faith.
Models for us how to endure difficult times. Jesus did not focus on the sufferings of this life but instead of the eternal joy that lay ahead. He was able to go to the cross because He saw through the cross. By focusing on the eternal He was able to endure earthly suffering and rejection.
Won an eternal victory. After the cross and resurrection, Jesus “sat down” at the right hand of God. His work was complete and the victory was sure.
I realized that my discouragement was in large part because when I looked at my life I was focusing on the wrong thing. This life is difficult, but this life is not all there is. Eternal life awaits those who trust in God. It will eventually get better. The glorious hope that belongs to those of faith is a powerful antidote to discouragement.
The antidote does not always work immediately, like antibiotics for an infection we may need to take the medicine for several days before it takes effect. But it does work!
This is the fifth post of a series on Dealing with Discouragement. If you have been touched by these posts, please share them with a friend. If you would like to subscribe to this blog and receive future posts by email, click on the subscribe link. Beneath my photo upper right on a computer screen or scroll to the bottom on your mobile device.