Everyone gets discouraged from time to time. Most of the time, these are temporary, lasting hours or a day. We are sad over missed family gatherings; a hoped–for promotion at work that did not materialize; or an argument with a loved one. At other times we can be discouraged far longer and far deeper than a greeting card or a sunny day can dispel. The attitudes and opinions we take for granted as “reasonable”, have separated people – even family members – and caused angry divisions around the planet. Over the past year, with no predictable end in sight, many among us have suffered. This pandemic has changed everything we do in our daily lives. Neither ignorance and denial, nor reliance on science offer protection from these times. Nor are we, as disciples of Jesus, as “fragile clay jars” (2 Corinthians 4:7), insulated from feeling discouraged about events we cannot change or the emotions and hardship that go on around us.
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 (NIV))
Our Bible study group one night talked about what we missed over the last year disrupted as it was. Many of us know someone who has gotten ill, or died, as a result of COVID. For those who may have been briefly ill, or were more fortunate, meeting together in church on Sundays, taking vacations, going out to eat, or to the movies are missed. We all agreed that we are fortunate that we have Someone, Jesus and the Spirit, to comfort us. The Spirit empowers us through prayer, meditation and scripture to capture our negative thoughts. When discouraged we must spend time in prayer and in the Word. Faith is strengthened when shared with others, especially with those who do not yet follow Jesus. As disciples however, we need to stay in contact with other disciples to comfort us. Being prudent health-wise, “socially distant”, does not mean we have to go through this alone when we have means (technology) or can meet one another outdoors.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and 6 my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar*. Psalm 42 :5 - 6 (NIV)
Reading the Bible, in faith, connects us to the source of Hope over discouragement. The psalmist reflects that focusing on the LORD, on whatever is good, noble and worthy (Philippians 4:8) – will relieve your pain. God sees you whether you are in the most remote middle-of-nowhere place, all the way into the highest mountains. Connecting with GOD, victorious over discouragement, is our protection.