DISCOURAGEMENT



One of the biggest obstacles you will face is discouragement. Once you get discouraged it's hard to keep going — it's hard to find the will to keep going. Discouragement is caused by unmet expectations. When you don't meet them, or when life doesn't meet them, or when others don't meet them, or when God doesn't meet them, you get discouraged. You will act as though you live in a cause-and-effect world, and that things are supposed to turn out a certain way. You believe that if you always do "A", it will always result in "B" — but life simply doesn't work that way.

When Jesus was arrested and put to death, his disciples were overcome with discouragement Peter experienced discouragement when Jesus died. He was discouraged because the death of Christ destroyed his expectations of how Jesus should establish His earthly kingdom. Peter was also discouraged because during the process he failed to meet his own expectations. Notice what Peter said to Jesus, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”  When Peter said this, Jesus responded to Peter saying, “This very night you will deny three times that you even know me.” And Peter's reply was, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” (Matthew 26:33-35).  The most vocal follower, the Apostle Peter, denied him, deserted him, and ran for his life. Peter put a tremendous amount of faith in himself — too much, in fact. When he failed to meet his own expectations he became discouraged. That's the cause of discouragement— failed expectations.

If you examine your expectations closely, you'll often find that your expectations might be unrealistic. Peter's expectations were unrealistic. Jesus told Peter they were unrealistic, yet Peter refused to listen.

How do you escape the pain of discouragement? Some folks pour themselves into work, some chase a hobby, some overeat, some watch too much TV, some go shopping, and some make themselves numb with alcohol. There are many things you can do to cover up the pain of discouragement. The problem is that after you return from your escape, your problems still exist. In fact, they're usually worse. Options such as compromising, quitting, withdrawing, or escaping never solve the problem. You only end up cynical, skeptical, bitter, and, like Peter, at rock bottom.  

Right now you may be discouraged beyond description. Maybe it's your job, or your family, or your marriage, or your financial situation. Maybe you're asking yourself "Why should I keep on? What's the use? Why don't I just quit?" I can give you a reason. The tomb is empty. Jesus is alive today, and he is at work in your life. This means you can expect Jesus to do something you won’t  expect. You never know when Jesus is going to surprise you with a miracle.

Maybe you can't control the so-called principle of cause-and-effect. Maybe you can't get the results you want when you want them. But you can be faithful. You can keep the faith by remembering the empty tomb, which proves Jesus is not done with you yet. Things won't always be the way they are now.  So keep looking up and moving forward.

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