I came across a beautiful little encouragement in 2 Chron. the other day:
“But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.”
This was a much needed encouragement for me as lately my work-life has felt rather fruitless. I’ve had several ‘what am I even doing this for’ moments and been tempted to give up more than once. This verse came as a very blessed reassurance.
But there’s more to it than that. As I read it, similar verses of encouragement sprang to mind and I was reminded of the many times men and women throughout the Bible – great heroes of the faith – needed and received encouragement. But why?
Really, go with me on this. Why would those great people, who saw God’s amazing works first-hand and left behind such powerful testimonies, ever feel like quitting? Didn’t they realize God was for them and everything would work out according to His perfect will? Didn’t they have faith that was strong enough to banish all doubt?
But that’s coming from the perspective of someone who’s looking back on the situation, not as someone who’s caught in the middle of it.
Here in the midst of my discouragement, surrounded by the fears of failure, I quickly fall prey to the delusion that I alone ever feel this way. Everyone else has it figured out, everyone else is two steps ahead, and then there’s me… floundering. See how I could wonder why the great heroes of the Bible, the men and women I aspire to, ever needed encouragement?
Then came the revelation: on the battleground, in the midst of the fighting, obeying God is hard. And confusing. And often times, it feels completely fruitless.
And what happens when it gets tough? The enemy sweeps in and whispers that we’ve got it wrong.
“Did God really say…?”
“If only you could go back and make that choice over again…”
“You’ve strayed so far outside of God’s will. Now you’ll never have His best for you…”
“Things aren’t going right, you must have done something wrong…”
“You’ve messed up; now you’re useless, fruitless, barren…”
These whispers, these doubts, are not indicative of failure. Quite the opposite.
Think about it: if you were headed in the wrong direction, would satan want you to quit and turn around?
Of course not! He would want you to walk as far down that wrong-way road as he could get you! Then he’d try to have you wallow in complacency, relax, and fall asleep in the shade.
And I can promise that those doubts and fears are not from God. That is not what Godly conviction looks like.
See, growth hurts because we don’t really want it. Anything worth having must be fought for and, far from being a good excuse to give up, the struggle is actually a good sign that we are on the right track.
That’s why God’s followers have always needed encouragement. It’s normal to feel discouraged and confused when things don’t go as we planned and when growth hurts more than we expected. Just because the going gets tough, that doesn’t mean we took a wrong turn. Giving into the doubts and fears is what will lead us to make a wrong turn.
So if you, like me, have been feeling weighed down and discouraged by the rough trek, don’t fall for satan’s lies that you aren’t right where God wants you. Go ask your Father if there is anything holding you back from complete obedience, then do what He tells you to do.
Don’t give into discouragement. Instead, see it for what it is: a good sign that you’re on the right track.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.