I remember being discouraged when I was a kid because we were “poor”. It didn’t help when my older brother would tell me about how great his life was back when him and mom lived in Chicago. He would brag about her great job and how his toys were so absolutely amazing. I would look at mine and think, “This is just not fair. I’ll never have what he had.”
As an adult, I think it’s still easy for me to look around at the world and think, “I am so far behind successful people that I could never catch up.” It can be discouraging for anyone when we compare our lives to how we think they should be or where they are in relations to others.
Just over 500 years before Jesus was born, the Israelites had been allowed to go back to Jerusalem for the first time in 70 years. They were allowed to go back in order to rebuild their lives as well as the temple of God that had been destroyed. They began work on the temple and found that it was more difficult than they had anticipated. The land was filled with people who opposed the idea of the temple being rebuilt. The work was painstaking and slow. It seemed as if they would never be able to rebuild the temple with the same glory as before. They were discouraged, to say the least.
Through the prophet Haggai, God addresses the people concerning their discouragement.
‘ Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the LORD Almighty. (Haggai 2:3-4 NIV)
God is not trying to tell the people that the road will be easy. What he is telling them is that He is with them, and as such, they should continue to work toward the goal. It is both easy and common for us to become discouraged. Perhaps, a job has been lost and your lifestyle is forced to change with your loss of income. Perhaps you have started seeking a degree later in life and you are discouraged when you consider how long it will take you to finish. It’s discouraging to build and save only to lose everything to some unforeseen event. It can be discouraging when you pour everything you are into something and see very little in return. There are plenty of things in this world that can be discouraging.
Be encouraged! God is with you still. He does not abandon us when things get tough, instead He offers us a hope (Joshua 1:9). God offers us the hope that our work, done in faith, will result in good (Romans 8:28). God promises that our work, done in faith, is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Today, I am encouraged, even when things don’t seem to be happening. Not because I enjoy spitting in the wind, but because I know that God is doing something so much bigger than I could imagine. That faith drives me to work all the harder in order to glorify Him. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord Almighty is with you!
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!