First, let me say that feeling discouragement and disappointment is not sinful. No one thinks you’re less Christian simply because you feel like that. Honestly, I think we have all reached that point at some time in our life and the more you care the more likely you are to feel it. Sometimes it is about what is happening at church and sometimes it’s about what is not happening. When this happens we tend to look at external factors like attendance and participation as indicators of the health and well-being of the church. These are superficial indicators, but not the gold standard of how healthy a church or Christian should look or act.
More importantly, I want you to understand that disappointment and discouragement doesn’t have to be a bad thing. These feelings can be overwhelming and cause us to focus on all things that are not what we think they should be but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of focusing on how it is not what we want or think it should be, maybe, we should take this as a deep, inner calling, to get to work and change things.
Often we allow our discouragement and disappointments to cause us to pull away from the work when that is exactly the opposite of what is needed. What the church needs is more people who will get up and get busy, not sit down, or turn away. Every church needs people who will face the discouragement and say, “I WILL NOT BACK DOWN AND I WILL NOT QUIT!”
If every time something disappoints or discourages us and we run away; we will never learn to overcome. The church needs people who will stay in spite of the problems; people who will keep fighting, keep standing strong, and refuse to give up. That is the only way real change happens.
In 1 Kings 19, we are told about the prophet Elijah running for his life from the evil queen Jezebel. Shortly after his great victory on Mt. Carmel he takes his eyes off of God’s power and protection and runs for his life. The threats of the queen cause feelings of discouragement and disappointment to well up inside; it caused feelings of fear and doubt that left him hiding in a cave. It was in the cave that God speaks to him and asked what are you doing here. Elijah’s answer is relatable and something we have probably felt before. He says, “It’s enough God, I have tried to do the work; I am losing this battle; I cannot do this anymore. They have killed everyone else, I’m the only one left, and they want me dead too.” Elijah is disappointed, discouraged, and feeling defeated. It is exactly at this time that God tells him that this is not the time to stop but the time to get up and work. To encourage him, God reminds him that he is not the only one left but there were actually seven thousand people with him. God’s message is clear, “don’t let discouragement stop you!” Use those feelings to motive you to get up and get back at it.
Like Elijah, sometimes we get down and discouraged. Church, don’t allow that to stop you or make you feel like quitting. We can win! We can overcome with Jesus Christ on our side. Don’t ever give up and don’t let discouragement be the end of your story.
by Tim Arnett