The bible consistently tells us to not be afraid, to not get discouraged, and to not lose heart. This must mean God knows us pretty well. He knows our tendencies to give up or to back off. He understands that we’re prone to discouragement. He knows what’s in a man’s heart and, amazingly, He loves us still.
Let’s take a look at three situations that cause us to lose heart, and seek a remedy for each:
1. We lose heart when we continue to do good and see nothing come from it.
Galatians 6:9 (NKJV) And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
It’s hard for us to press on when we don’t see any fruit from our labor. It’s hard to teach junior high kids over and over while they continue to give you the same blank stares. Sometimes our ministry seems like playing ping-pong with a statue. We do our part, but there’s no return or response. Isn’t it amazing that God anticipated our propensity to give up when that happens?
What is His answer to us? You will reap. The antidote is to trust God and know that your work is not in vain. We can continue because God is faithful and in control. It might seem like nothing is happening right now, but God is doing a million things behind the scenes. You can trust Him.
2. We lose heart when we suffer.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
When we suffer, when others suffer, we get discouraged. We get mad at God because we’re trying so hard and then bad things happen. I’m not sure where we get the idea that bad things shouldn’t happen to us. We might warn people about the prosperity gospel, but we need to realize that functionally, a lot of us ascribe to that false gospel.
What is God’s answer this time? He is at work within us and working something for us. The affliction we are going through is momentary and light when contrasted to the eternal weight of glory that He is working for us. When we lose heart over suffering, we must remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways. He is in control and He is good. Don’t lose heart.
3. We lose heart when our prayers go unanswered.
Luke 18:1-8 (NKJV) 1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Often it seems like our prayers don’t travel any farther than the ceiling. We pray and nothing happens. That’s enough to discourage us, to make us want to give up.
God gives us this parable to teach us that persistence matters. Don’t give up. If an unjust judge will grant this stubborn widow’s petition, how much more will a gracious, merciful, and compassionate God grant ours? I don’t know why He delays when answering prayers, but I do know He knows best. He delights to give good gifts to His children.
There are a lot of disheartening things that happen in this world every single day. Christian, understand that God is loving and faithful. Don’t lose heart today.