What is discouragement? What is its cause? Where will it lead?
Discouragement can be described as the sad, down-heartedness occurring in the face of unfulfilled expectations. It is a slippery slope that can quickly lead into deeper struggles with lack of peace, joy, and hope. In pretty short order, questions may arise about such things as validity and purpose of one's life, or even one's ministry.
What is God's counsel in regards to our expectations and affections? What is His mind concerning hope and the grace of God?
In the matter of our expectations, it is of utmost importance that we recall that God's ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30), with His thoughts being higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8). On that absolute Truth, we can place ALL of our expectations from Him (Psalm 62:5). Any departure in our thinking places us on a dangerous position for disappointment, leading downward toward discouragement.
As to our affections, in Colossians 3:2, we are given clear teaching to set our deepest longings and desires on things of an eternal nature rather than of a temporal or earthly one. Often, we tend to hold onto and cherish God's gifts more dearly than the Giver Who gave them. We forget to remember that He gives, removes and withholds in completely righteous ways for the purpose of His eternal glory and our eternal good. (Keyword: ETERNAL, necessitating that kind of perspective.)
Regarding hope, we know that it first presents itself when one believes in Jesus Christ (Romans 15:13a), and overflows in the life of that one who lives in obedience to the Word of God, by the ministry of the Spirit of God (Romans 15:13b). True biblical hope is always as secure as the infallible, eternal promises of the Word of God. In the matter of grace, God's Word declares it to be absolutely and completely all- sufficient for every need (2 Corinthians 12:9) to the degree that we actually are called to glory in our infirmities and give thanks for God's marvelous working in our lives (Romans 8:28-29) (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Psalms 43:5 brings us to God's hear on this matter "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
May God help us today to hope in God, and praise Him!
(C) 1993 N.A.Collins - Limited copy permission for one personal copy