072. How to Fight Against Discouragement
Message 72 of 84 in the series BuildingUp
In this episode, we talk about how to deal with discouragement, or as the Bible puts it, how to not lose heart.
Hi, everyone, Welcome in to Episode Number 72 of the building up podcast. I’m David McConnell. As always, as always say, thank you guys for being with us today. And I do hope that this episode of the podcast will be profitable for you in some way.
Today’s episode, the podcast, we’re gonna be talking about how to deal with discouragement or as the Bible puts it, how to not lose heart. Sometimes with these podcasts, there’s different ways that topics come up. There are times where listeners send in questions or passages of Scripture that they want to hear talked about, we love to receive those and you can send them in at any time using our email buildingup@AgapePinson.com. There are times where I’m reading a passage of scripture and something just stands out at me. And I think, okay, this is something I want to talk about on the podcast this week. And then sometimes I’m just speaking from what I’m dealing with in my life, or what is, you know, what I’m going through or what’s on my heart. And that’s, that’s really the basis of this week’s podcast. as I have been over the last couple of weeks dealing with just some discouragement, some — just wrestling with disappointment and being disheartened or being tempted to lose heart. And really, for me, it’s been around the COVID pandemic, the continued pandemic.
As I’m recording this in July of 2021. And here in the state of Alabama, we’ve just seen this uptick in numbers for COVID as far as seeing spread in our community. I have known several friends, colleagues, people at our church who had been sick, some with mild cases, I know of at least two individuals who have passed away. One, another pastor that actually I met for the first time just a couple of months ago. And he passed away recently from COVID. And then some dear family friends that have walked through that trial as well. And then even just thinking about it from a church perspective, because, you know, if we, at our church last year, there was so many, when it seemed like stops and starts and trying to figure out what was right, and how to navigate the pandemic, and, and then just, you know, six months ago, things were getting really, really better. And, you know, we were, I think everyone in the community and in the church world, looking forward to just things getting back into a normal pace.
And then all of a sudden, you just see these, these numbers, you see them going up again, and you just get hit with these waves of, you know, Lord, what’s, what’s going on? Why is this happening again? And, you know, where’s this gonna lead? And, you know, it’s just I don’t know another word. Just it’s discouragement. It’s wrestling with being disheartened. And that sense of, Oh, wow, here, here we go again. And you know, what’s next? What’s going to happen? And so that’s, that’s where I’ve been the last couple of weeks.
But I do realize that for many of us, it may be that situation sounds familiar, just not about perhaps COVID. Although that may be some of you that are wrestling with those same things. But you know, you may be listening to this at a time where COVID is not even really an issue or just in your own life, that’s, that’s really kind of the least of your concerns. I think it’s, I think it’s those times where we are, we’re going through something difficult. And we’re looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. And we keep thinking, you know what, I’m there. I’m through this, this, the worst is behind me, you know, I’ve got breakthrough, something has changed. And things are going to be different now. And then all of a sudden it’s like the rug gets pulled out from under you. And you realize, oh, wow, it’s really not changed or it’s really not resolved. I’ve got to continue on. I’ve got a, you know, this problem that I thought was fixed, it’s not actually fixed. And so maybe that’s something in our life, maybe it’s something with a loved one.
But I think we all know what it’s like when that happens to just feel this weight of discouragement, of losing heart of wanting to throw up our hands and quit and give up because we thought we had reached the other side, so to speak, of whatever this issue is that we’re dealing with, and we find out, you know, we really haven’t.
So what do we do? That’s, that’s the question is, what do we do? How do we address that? That’s what I’m interested in. That’s what I’m interested in for my life. That’s what I’m interested in for our church. That’s what I’m interested in for any of you who listen to this podcast outside of our churches, when we find ourselves in those places where we just really want to give up, we’re really discouraged. Where we think things were going to get better, and they haven’t. What do we do? And how do we keep going and not just keep going, you know, by the skin of our teeth, but how do we keep going in a way that is good and profitable, where we can thrive in the midst of difficult times.
And this is, you know, this is one of those — This is one of those points in scripture where we actually have a quote from Jesus, like he gets us some of some very clear teaching around this. And it’s found in Luke chapter 18, is the very first verse of Luke 18. Where the Bible says Jesus told his disciples a parable, for the reason of or to the effect of that they should always pray and not lose heart. So when I read this, this week, it jumped out at me why, here’s, here’s something that I need to hear, because Jesus is saying, Here is how you don’t lose heart. And of course, the connection there is to always pray. Always praying, is how we keep from losing heart in when we’re in a place where we feel discouragement, and we want to give up, the key, Jesus says, is to always pray.
Now, this is one of those times where, you know, first of all, you know, we have to kind of push aside our Christian experience, because sometimes we tend to look at what we expect to be the common answer to a problem and just say, Oh, yeah, I know that, but that that doesn’t really work. So as Christians, we know we should pray. And if someone says, You know what, I’m going through a really, really hard time. I’m really discouraged right now. I’m, I’m struggling, and someone says, You know what, you just need to pray. You know, there’s part of you that just wants to say, I know that. I know, I need to pray. I’m going to pray.
But we tend to have a, I don’t know, at least in my head, I just think it’s a little bit of a flippant answer at all, it almost seems like it’s too simple. I know, I’m supposed to pray. But give me something a little bit more than that. And so I think it’s helpful to us that in Luke 18, Jesus just doesn’t just say to them, you should always pray to not lose heart, but he actually tells them a story. He tells them a parable to help them understand the depth of what he means of why he’s saying, or the illustration of why he’s saying, you should always pray so that you don’t lose heart.
So let’s read the rest of this together. Luke chapter 18, verses two through eight. He said, talking about this parable, in a certain city, there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to this judge saying, Give me justice against my adversary. For a while he refused. But afterward, he said to himself, though I’m neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me. I will give her justice so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. And the Lord said, here, what the unrighteous judge says, and will not God give justice to his elect? who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?
This is a very interesting story that Jesus uses to illustrate prayer. The type of prayer that will help us to not lose heart, he gives us the story of a godless judge and a widow. And a widow would have in Jesus’s day represented the helpless and the vulnerable. And judges in those times — It’s not like it was today where you know if you have a case you can you know, by the law you can get it put on the docket and the judge will hear it — In those days, judges, you know, they would often travel around, and they would set up these tents, and they would hear cases, but they chose which cases they wanted to hear and which ones they didn’t. And sometimes it actually took bribing one of their assistants to ensure that your case was heard. And so here’s a widow who’s helpless, vulnerable, probably doesn’t have any money, certainly can’t bribe a judge. And so she really has no hope to have her case against her adversary heard so that she can receive justice.
But what she did was she kept coming and kept coming in the picture is she’s yelling at him from afar. She’s standing outside of the tent, and she is just bothering him until the judge finally says, what does this woman want? Let me hear her case and I’ll give her justice so she’ll go away.
Now, the point of the parable is not to bother God until he answers, but that’s not, that’s not what Jesus is saying. He’s actually contrasting God to this judge. And really, the central point of the parable is, if you have this evil judge, who cares nothing for vulnerable people. But if that evil judge will give justice to someone who’s oppressed just because of their persistence? How much more will God, who is a good judge and who loves his people, who cares for his children, how much more will God answer and do what is right for his children that persistently call out to Him? Who call out to him day and night? God is not like this unjust judge who has to be bribed to hear a case. God loves his people, Jesus, used the term, the term here, his elect, his chosen people, the ones that God loves and cares for.
He wants to hear from us. He wants to give us justice. He wants to work on behalf of his people. That is the God that we serve. That is God our Father. And so Jesus says he won’t put them off. He will grant them justice, and he’ll do it swiftly. In other words, there won’t be any unnecessary delays for his people who persistently pray. Sometimes on our end, it may seem like there’s a delay when we pray. When we’re asking for justice from an oppressor. Where we’re asking for God to do what is right. We’re asking God to come through in those situations where we feel like we are going to lose heart because things are not getting better. Sometimes it seems like there’s a delay. But what we, I think, learn here is that God won’t delay at all.
Now, what we may be experiencing is God’s preparation, and God’s work, which is sometimes silent sometimes in the details, sometimes not what we can see. But the delay that we’re experiencing is not one of inactivity, it is God working all things for the good of those who love Him, as Romans 8:28 says.
And so I think what Jesus is showing us here, it’s definitely a call to persistent prayer, not just praying the same things over and over and over again. But, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 type of praying without ceasing, which we know we can’t live our whole life in a prayer closet. What this does point us to is that prayer should be very natural. It should be as natural as breathing to us that we pray. And that, that this story tells us not only should we be persistent in prayer, but we know we can come into God’s presence boldly, that that we can walk into the throne room of grace because of what Jesus has done for those of us who have faith in Jesus and had been born again. We are heard in heaven, and we can get the help we need.
So persistently pray as a natural way of life and this will protect you from being disheartened or discouraged or overly disheartened and discouraged and when you start feeling that welling up in you, you can recognize, I just need to pray and need to be with my father, I need to pursue Jesus. That’s what I need. Because always praying and not ceasing is what helps us to not quit and to not lose heart. And Jesus ends this whole thing with a question. When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? I think he means will he find this kind of faith on the earth? The kind of faith that looks to God and trusts him. The kind of faith that says, You know what being in the presence of my father is what I need to not be discouraged. Here’s how I’m going to fight discouragement in losing heart, I’m going to come into the presence of my father.
Will he find that kind of faith on the earth? I hope he does. I hope he finds it in me. And I hope he finds it in you. And I hope this podcast has been helpful to you today. If you have found it helpful, please share it with others. One way you could do that is directly Of course, but you could also give us a review on iTunes, if you wouldn’t mind. That helps other people find the podcast but certainly, word of mouth is very helpful. If you have any questions that I’ll use the email that you’re going to hear in the outro and get in touch with us. I’d love to hear from you. We’d love to hear that you’re listening to the podcast and we’d love to hear how it is how it’s helping you in your life or to interact with any questions you may have. Thank you for listening today. And until next time, Grace and peace to your family.