DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

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Discouragement
 

(Depression, Disappointment, Tiredness)

What counsel does the Bible give for responding to discouragement?

1. Pray For Help

1 Samuel 1:9-11, 13-20
9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord's temple.
10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.
11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."


KEY VERSE: Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the LORD. (1 Samuel 1:10)

Prayer is the key to handling discouragement.

Hannah had good reason to feel discouraged and bitter.

She was unable to bear children; she shared her husband with a woman who ridiculed her (1 Samuel 1:7);
- her loving husband could not solve her problem (1 Samuel 1:8);
- and even the high priest misunderstood her motives (1 Samuel 1:14).

But instead of retaliating or giving up hope, Hannah prayed.

She brought her problem honestly before God.

Each of us may face times of barrenness when nothing "comes to birth" in our work, service, or relationships. It is difficult to pray in faith when we feel so ineffective.

But, as Hannah discovered, prayer opens the way for God to work (1 Samuel 1:19-20).

Others can also help in handling discouragement.

Earlier Hannah had been discouraged to the point of being physically sick and unable to eat.

At this point, she returned home well and happy.

The change in her attitude may be attributed to three factors:
(1) she honestly prayed to God (1 Samuel 1:11);
(2) she received encouragement from Eli (1 Samuel 1:17); and
(3) she resolved to leave the problem with God (1 Samuel 1:18).

Tell God how you really feel and leave your problems with him.

Then rely upon the support of good friends and counselors.

How Would You Know the Savior's Words…
- If you never felt pain, How would you know that I'm a Healer?
- If you never went through difficulty, How would you know that I'm a Deliverer?
- If you never had a trial, How would you know that I'm a Comforter?
- If you never made a mistake, How would you know that I'm Forgiving?
- If you know it all, How would you know that I will answer your questions?
- If you never were in trouble, How would you know that I will come to your rescue?
- If you never were broken, How would you know that I can make you whole?
- If you never had a problem, Then how would you know that I can solve them?
- If you never had known suffering, Then how would you know what I went through?
- If you never went through the fire, Then how would you become pure?
- If I gave you all things, How would you appreciate them?
- If I never corrected you, How would you know that I love you?
- If you had all power, Then how would you learn to depend on me?
- If your life was perfect, Then what would you need me for?

2. God Can Change Your Situation

Nehemiah 4:1-16, 10-14
1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,
2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble--burned as they are?"
3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, "What they are building--if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!"
4 Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.
5 Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
7 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.
8 They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall."
11 Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work."
12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, "Wherever you turn, they will attack us."
13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.
14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."
15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah


KEY VERSE: As I looked over the situation, I called together the leaders and the people and said to them, "Don't be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!" (Neh. 4:14)

Remember that God is able to do wonders even in discouraging situations.

Accomplishing any large task is tiring.

There are always pressures that foster discouragement-the task seems impossible, it can never be finished, or too many factors are working against us.

The only cure for fatigue and discouragement is focusing on God's purposes.

Nehemiah reminded the workers of their calling, their goal, and God's protection.

If you are overwhelmed by an assignment, tired, and discouraged, remember God's purpose for your life and his special purpose for the project.

Philippians 1:12-30
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.
13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.
14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.
16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.
17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.
18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God.
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.


KEYVERSE: Because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ. (Phil. 1:14)

God can use discouraging situations to bring glory to himself.

Being imprisoned would cause many people to become bitter or to give up, but Paul saw it as one more opportunity to spread the Good News of Christ.

Paul realized that his current circumstances weren't as important as what he did with them.

Turning a bad situation into a good one, he reached out to the Roman soldiers who made up the palace guard and encouraged those Christians who were afraid of persecution.

We may not be in prison, but we still have plenty of opportunities to be discouraged-times of indecision, financial burdens, family conflict, church conflict, or the loss of our jobs.

How we act in such situations will reflect what we believe.

Like Paul, look for ways to demonstrate your faith even in bad situations.

Whether or not the situation improves, your faith will grow stronger.