Being in the pastorate can be discouraging. After all, you are an obvious target for criticism. The messages are always too long or too short. You use too many illustrations or not enough. The content is too deep or too shallow. You stand too strongly on biblical truth or not strongly enough, and so it goes. On one occasion, I had a Christian leader harshly dress me down in public for 45 minutes and accuse me of a variety of things I had simply not done. He only thought I had. I left that meeting so discouraged; I just wanted to give up ministry. Thankfully, the Lord sent me encouragement when I needed it most. But being discouraged spiritually isn’t exclusive to pastors. All believers encounter this at one time or another.
You can almost feel the sorrow of heart when you read the testimonies of God’s men of the past. David wrote: “I had fainted…” (Psalm 27:13). Jeremiah said, “When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me” (Jeremiah 8:18). And Jonah said, “…my soul fainted within me” (Jonah 2:7). They were so discouraged and spiritually weakened that they simply felt like giving up. Thankfully, these servants of God did not give up, and there is much to learn from what carried them through. Jonah relates he was strengthened when “I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple” (Jonah 2:7). Coupled with obedience to God’s will, his discouragement turned when he stayed his mind on the Lord in prayer. Similarly, Isaiah proclaims, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40: 31). So Isaiah also found it helpful to focus his thoughts on the Lord through prayer. The Apostle Paul had opposition from without and within the company of believers and much to be discouraged about. But, he didn’t quit. His testimony was: “seeing we have this ministry…we faint not” (II Corinthians 4:1). He kept his heart focused on serving the Savior. He did so with Galatians 6:9 in mind, “And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Simply put, the promise of eternal reward from the Savior strengthened the resolve of this servant. It can for us too.
Are you discouraged spiritually? Don’t quit! Pray, focus on the importance of serving Christ, and rejoice in future reward.
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