Is it not easy to find yourself discouraged in life? Discourage is to deprive of courage, hope or confidence according to dictionary.com. I was wondering this past week what causes discouragement. What is it that deprives us of courage or causes us to lose hope? I started thinking I lose courage when I am tired, having pushed myself over one hurdle after another and then I look and see another row of hurdles coming at me. Can you relate?
I get discouraged when the simple little things get in the way of what I am trying to do. The more these things crop up, the more I can find discouragement knocking on my door. Do you ever feel like just throwing in the towel and saying, "Oh what is the use! I can't even get to what I am needing to get done because of all of this other stuff that keeps getting in the way!"
I can get discouraged when I feel rejected as well. Some of the hardest moments to be a husband are when I feel rejected for whatever reason by my bride. I struggle the most to hold the course as a godly husband whenever I feel rejected. Those are the times I say, "There has to be a change of course here, because I am not going to just take this lying down!" If I feel criticized at work it can have the same effect of discouragement from holding the course the Lord has for me.
Then the Lord showed me an incredible example of courage and an amazing absence of discouragement in the life of Christ, when I know that I would have been discouraged. John 6:59-7:18.
Jesus had fed the 5,000 with the little boys lunch and the crowds were growing. The number of "disciples" were growing rapidly. Jesus had the launching pad for a super star. He then says something that had the same effect as Gov. Perry forgetting the name of the branch of government he would remove. He says that he must abide in us and we must abide in Him. He uses the image of eating his flesh and drinking His blood though, and the people bail because they don't want any part of that. The crowd is gone except for the original 12 that he chose personally. All the ones who chose Him left, all the ones he chose remain.
His own brothers don't even believe in Him and start giving Him advice about how to do a better job of getting His name out there. They tell him to go to Judea and go to where all the people are if he wants to make a name for himself. But quit making big claims and staying in the countryside.
Everyone goes on to the the Feast of Tabernacles to celebrate God delivering Israel out of captivity. Jesus later comes privately because the Jews were looking to arrest Him. He begins teaching in the synagogue and has this interaction with the crowd:
13 Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach.
15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”
16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
17 “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
18 “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Jesus is filled with courage and shows no signs of discouragement from the events that just transpired. The devils grappling hook of discouragement that pulls us off course finds no hold in Christ's heart because there is no pridefulness in His heart. In scripture we are warned not to give the devil a foothold, and the foothold that he always looks for is pride. Like a grappling hook needing something to hang on, the devil throws his grappling hook at our hearts looking to hang onto our pride. Because Christ was filled with humility there was no place for discouragement to take hold in his heart, and as a result he was filled with courage, hope, and confidence. The very things we are deprived of when we are hooked by discouragement.
Jesus is the most courageous, most hopeful, most confident person the world has ever known. Think about it. He came to save people who had to be saved, but didn't want a savior. He would have to live a perfect life and overcome all temptation which had never been done before or since. It would cost him everything he had including his life. He would be whipped, beaten, mocked, and tortured to accomplish His goal of saving us. He would face the most powerful enemy the world has ever known in Satan. He would not only do all of this, He would plan on changing the entire course of history through His 12 disciples. He did all of this without a moment of discouragement. He is the world's most courageous man!
To look to ourselves for courage, hope, and confidence is to miss the point in verse 63.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.
We won't fight discouragement with greater reliance upon ourselves. As my mom would say, "You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip." You can’t get from the flesh what can only come from God.
(vs 66) As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
Humility in ignorance still seeks understanding and wisdom, while Ignorance in Pridefulness moves to judgment and rejection. CJ Mahaney defines pridefulness as contending for the supremacy of God. I saw that the "disciples" withdrew from him. It was flat out rejection of his teaching, not just saying, "I don't understand, help me to understand."
Humility seeks God’s glory and Pridefulness seeks its own. Our lust for our own glory is actually the foothold that leads to discouragement. Sin never delivers what it's target without paying a severe price that is undisclosed in the contract. Look at the courage of Christ. He is the living example of what being "in courage" or "encouraged" looks like. Take heart and be encouraged by the Lord today!
We will seek to be exalted in the eyes of men or seek for God to be exalted, but not both. When we seek to be exalted in the eyes of men it is a prideful and sinful pursuit that leads to many painful experiences along the way including discouragement. Discouragement should be a great indicator in our lives that we have been walking in our pride filled flesh not by humility in the Spirit.
Lord I can see my heart more clearly because of your word today. Thank you for the gracious way you draw us to yourself in spite of the magnitude of pride we bring with us. Help me today to rely upon your Spirit and not my own flesh as I courageously seek to live a life that brings glory to Your Name! Amen.