They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Living as fallen, broken, hurting people in a fallen, broken, hurting world, we all have to deal with discouragement from time to time. And here is a truth that may be tough to accept: Discouragement is a sin. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34 ESV) Philippians 4:6 commands us, “Do not be anxious about anything.” When we allow ourselves to become discouraged, we are obeying the direct commands of Scripture.
There are many ways to describe the sin of discouragement, but perhaps the best way is with this phrase:
Discouragement rears its ugly head when I refuse
to accept God’s plan and purpose for my life.
Another way of putting discouragement in its proper place is with the term “unmet expectations.” We all have expectations:
- Expectations in school
- Expectations at the office
- Expectations in our friendships
- Expectations in our families
- Expectations for our bodies
- Expectations in our finances
And when our expectations, whatever they may be, go unmet from our perspective, we have a tendency to drift into discouragement. But when we bow our heads and our hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender control of our lives to Him, we must keep in mind that this surrender includes our unmet expectations. Why? Because the reason our expectations were unmet is that they were not part of God perfect plan and purpose for our imperfect lives. He has something far better in store for us, so we must turn our discouragement into devotion.
For the Christian, the truth of Romans 8:28 is to be our travel guide in this life:
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
Think of the example of Joseph; surely Joseph was not expecting to spend most of his adult life in Egypt! As the favored son of his father Jacob, Joseph expected to go from blessing to blessing. Instead, Joseph went from being thrown down a dry well by his jealous brothers . . . to being a slave in Egypt . . . to being a prisoner in a dungeon. Yet through it all, Joseph kept his focus on God and eventually his unmet expectations were turned into something entirely unexpected: he was made prime minister of all of Egypt and was used by God to accomplish the saving of many lives.
So . . . where in your life have you been dealing with discouragement due to unmet expectations? This is the time to remember to walk by faith, and not by sight, because the God who is walking with you is absolutely, unalterably for you, and He will—in His time and in His perfect way—return to you blessings multiplied. Are you willing to wait upon the Lord?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!