All of us go through times of discouragement and disappointment.
At times, things don’t turn out the way we thought or planned. Moreover, situations arise that turn our life upside down, and sometimes, life just stinks.
There are many descriptive words I could think of to describe how life treats us at times. Recently, I have experienced times of discouragement, which if I am not careful, can become distracting to what God is calling and leading me to do in my life.
When I get discouraged, I turn to a specific scripture that helps center and guide me back on track. It is a scripture of an older pastor sharing with a younger pastor.
At one point in my life, I felt that I was the younger pastor in the scripture. In turning 60 this year, I find myself in the role of the older pastor, especially in my role as a Bishop in the United Methodist Church. In 2 Timothy 4 beginning in verse 1, we read a statement of faith that the Apostle Paul has with a young Timothy.
“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom.”
It is freeing that Jesus is the judge, not me. It is encouraging me to get past my judgmental spirit and be released from a spirit of anger, which often moves to hate and bitterness. Perhaps you find yourself at this point right now.
Verse 2 states, "Preach the word of God. Be prepared whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.”
Paul speaking to a young Timothy reminds us to be faithful to God’s word in times that are not favorable, or as I refer to it as times of discouragement.
Verse 3 and 4 conclude with, “They will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”
This was written more than 2,000 years ago, but it is so relevant for the days in which we now find ourselves.
Then the next four verses remind me of my marching orders. Verses 5-8 says, “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out your ministry God has given you. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.
"The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me–the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me, but all who eagerly look forward to his appearing."“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom.”
These words remind me to empty myself of all that discourages me and pour in those things of Jesus Christ. I am reminded that following Jesus will involve hard times that may lead to suffering.
People will not agree with you and say things about you without knowing all the facts. Quite simply, they will just let you down.
In Jesus' earthly life, we read time and time again where people turned and walked away from Him. How heartbreaking that they were in the physical presence of Jesus and rejected Him. If we are honest with ourselves, we all do that from time to time.
Every time I feel discouraged, I take time to read and reflect on this scripture from 2 Timothy, and realize once again that regardless of what I am walking through at the present moment that the best is truly yet to come.
With that, I can get up and move forward with God’s call on my life once again.
What about you? Discouraged? You can change that right now!