It’s been a difficult week for me and I was feeling a little discouraged. Then, in my devotions a couple of days ago, I read the following two quotes from “Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Devotions” by Kenneth W. Osbeck.
First Quote: “I’ve taught a class for many years; borne many burdens, toiled through tears – But folks don’t notice me a bit, I’m so discouraged, I’ll just quit.” — Unknown
Has anyone ever said this to you before? Have you ever felt this way? I’m guessing you have. So have I.
Second Quote: “When the world seems at its worst, Christians must be at their best.” — Unknown.
That’s it? Wait a minute! No sympathy? No hand holding? No, I’m sorry you weren’t properly appreciated. I’ll make it up to you in heaven?
Then as I was reading my Bible passage for today, I found myself in the Book of Lamentations. Talking about feeling discouraged. The author, possibly Jeremiah, is in the process of watching his beloved city of Jerusalem being destroyed.
In chapter 3:2-3 – “He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light. He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.” A little later, Jeremiah writes: “And though I cry and shout, he has shut out my prayers. He has blocked my way with a high stone wall; he has made my road crooked.” (3:8-9)
Aren’t we supposed be protected from evil people and painful circumstances?
So why should we worry about being a Christian? Why join a church? Teach a Sunday school class? Give of our hard earned money? Volunteer for a mission project? What’s the point? Why bother?
Then I think about that second quote again. “When the world seems at its worst, Christians must be at their best.”
Here is a reality check: We were not put on this earth by God to be comfortable.
We were deliberately placed here by God to be a witness for our faith in Jesus Christ. At times that means courageously displaying our faith when the world seems at its worst. That is when Christians must be at their best.
The passage I quoted from Lamentations goes on to say: “I will never forget this awful time as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (3:20-23)
In the midst of the horror surrounding him while his city is being destroyed, Jeremiah rediscovers his faith as he realizes the true meaning of following God. It is in the midst of suffering, when the world seems at its worst, thanks to the faithful love of God which never ends; we too must be and can be at our best, thanks to God’s mercies which begin afresh each morning.
Kenneth W. Osbeck after sharing the two quotes above goes on to write:
“Discouragement can easily cause our faith to shrink, and we may even at times consider quitting our service for God. Perhaps we have all experienced these sentiments. One of the chief characteristics of spiritual maturity is the ability to persevere – even in the face of adversity.”
Then Kenneth shared a hymn, which I don’t remember but the words bolstered my faith and filled me with hope.
“The Power of Faith” by William Hiley Bathurst
O for a faith that will not shrink tho pressed by many a foe,
that will not tremble on the brink of any earthly woe.
That will not murmur nor complain beneath the chast’ning rod,
but in the hour of grief or pain will lean up its God.
A faith that shines more bright and clear when tempests rage without,
that, when in danger, knows no fear, in darkness feels no doubt.
Lord, give me such a faith as this, and then, whate’er may come,
I’ll taste e’en now the hallowed bliss of an eternal home.
That’s the faith I want. In the midst of discouragement and struggle: Give me a faith that shines more bright and clear. Lord give me such a faith as this, and then, whatever comes, I’ll taste the hallowed bliss of an eternal home.
I pray that your faith has been strengthened and I pray you clearly see the God whose mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness. His mercies begin afresh each and every morning.