Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When We Feel Discouraged

Title: WHEN WE FEEL DISCOURAGED
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 27 July 2010

MAIN IDEA: A reflection of David's exhortation to his son, Solomon prior to the building of the greatest project in Jewish history: Building the Temple of the LORD. Remember the 7Ps when we are feeling discouraged.
"All this," David said, "I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan." David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing man skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command." (1 Chronicles 28:19-21)
The work is immense. The task is colossal. How can one mortal person build a gigantic temple to the Eternal God? I suppose Solomon, the son of King David could have been discouraged when he saw the huge project before him. Who would not? Moreover, in the mind of Solomon, it is a job that God spoke directly to David. Should not his father do the job himself? Why involve the next generation? After all, Solomon could have enjoyed his life in luxury (which he did), marry beautiful women (which he did), display wise knowledge and judgment (which he did), and bask in the riches of kingly benefits (which he did!). Named the wisest man in history, Solomon is not immune to discouragement. His father David is aware that even the wisest person on earth can at times be discouraged.

This passage teaches me the importance of learning to look up when we are down. Let me share 7 tips to consider whenever we feel discouraged. Let me call it the 7 P’s to tackle any discouragement.

[Photo Credit: InternetMonk.com]

1) PLANS
In 1 Chron 28:19, David gives Solomon all the details of the plans of building the temple of God. From the structure and the design, the materials, to the labour needed, every critical aspect has been thought out. What is needed is the obedience and willingness to follow through with the plans. After all that is said, what is needed is the execution of the plans. The work only begins with the planning. Great plans do not result in a finished work. It is only the starting point. It is the execution of the plans that helps one with the finishing of the project. It is the doing. It is the working out of the known plans rather than the worrying of the unknown parts of the plans. Sometimes, we become so trapped in the quest for knowing the unrevealed part of God’s plan for our lives, that we ignore what was revealed in the Bible. In other words, if we spend all our time obeying God in the clearer parts of the Bible, we will not have time to worry about what was NOT revealed.

Key Learning: When we obey what are the clear instructions in the Bible, we will have less time to worry about what is unclear. Do not be discouraged by unknown stuff. Be encouraged by known exhortations to serve. Take the plans and do it.

2) PEOPLE
In verse 21, David encourages Solomon that many people are ready to work with him on this grand project. He will not be alone. While we may not have David’s kingly resources, we have the Church. For all its flaws, there are still good people within the Church. Some are quietly serving. Others are faithfully ministering. Do not let those who discourage you make you forget about those who can encourage you. Likewise, there will always be some people who will be ready to walk with us. Sometimes, we become too narrow in our thinking that if a particular friend ignores us, we feel as if the whole world is ignoring us. This can happen to parents with kids. Just when a parent feels lonely and upset about his/her friends in the social circle, he/she may have ignored the child in the same house, who is ready always to chat and to have a nice conversation. It could also be the Church, where the most popular guy seems to be always busy. What about simply having a brief conversation with the one sitting next to you on the pew or chair. I believe that one honest and meaningful conversation is far more valuable than 20 haphazard superficial ones. Take heart my friend. God is faithful. He will always place an angel among the crowd of people.

Key Learning: People need the Lord. People need each other. Just as God will place one person to minister to you, are you ready to be that one person to talk to another, and maybe encourage another?

3) PERSEVERANCE
"Be strong and courageous," David said to his son. This is something we all need. When we feel discouraged, sometimes what we need is not to stuff our head into soils of self-pity, like an ostrich to danger. We need to remember to be strong and courageous. We are not puny midgets but called out people in God. We have a calling to persevere, to be strong and courageous. Solomon needed this encouragement and reminder that he CAN be strong and courageous.

Likewise, we too can be strong and courageous. One way to persevere in strength is to know the joy of the Lord. Paul the persecuted Apostle even said in his bleakest moment: “Rejoice in the LORD always!” (Philippians 4:4). Wow! In fact, many things in the world is already prepared for us. A famous preacher once said:
The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world's joy.” (Henry Ward Beecher)

Learning Point: Imagine how our joy in the Lord can bring joy to others. Persevere my dear brothers and sisters. You never know how infectious our joy in perseverance can bring.

4) PRESENCE
We are never alone. David makes sure that Solomon knows that the LORD’s presence is with him throughout the project. This remains one of the most important things disciples of Christ ought to know. The LORD is with us, who can be against us? The LORD is present with us, why then should we feel lonely?

Key Learning: Take heart, my brothers and sisters. Even when we feel that the world has forsaken us, the LORD is always with us.

5) PREVAIL
“He will not fail you,” says the LORD to David and Solomon. Sometimes, when we are discouraged, we not only feel like a failure, we think that our lives and our plans will all fumble and crumble into nothingness. This is furthest from the truth. It is a reminder that that even when we feel man’s plans will fail, God’s plans will always prevail. This is important for it tells us that God holds the future, and this future is bright and victorious. Live victoriously today, for the LORD’s plans will prevail.

Key Learning: Even when the winds of discouragement assail us on all sides, knowing that the LORD’s plans will prevail gives us ample reason to hang on and rough it out.

6) PURPOSEFULNESS
In 1 Chronicles 28:21, David reminds Solomon,
“The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”
I was thinking, among the people, would not there be someone who is sceptical about the entire project? Just by looking at the huge task, I am certain that at least some will be discouraged. Yet, the fact that the people will obey, regardless, tells me of another quality of being encouraged. This is the area that while success is important, faithfulness will shine brighter. Mother Teresa was once asked whether she feels discouraged in all her years of ministry to the poor. The reporter asks:
Mother, after 50 years of serving the poor, each time you help one person, there are ten others who still need to be helped. Didn’t you feel discouraged?
In reply, Mother Teresa said:
“No. God has not called me to be successful. God has called me to be faithful.”
Key Learning: In our pursuit of success, we tend to let our moods be dictated by success and failures. It is more important to be faithful than to be successful. Mother Teresa was purposeful in her ministry. It is not the saving of the poor that drives her. It is her faithfulness to the purpose of pleasing God that motivates.

7) PRAYER
How did David get the entire exhortation from the LORD? This is none other than prayer. David prays a lot. Solomon prays too, though not as much as his father. We need to remember to pray often. Pray without ceasing. For in prayer, we bring all our Ps together and seek God over and over again. When we are discouraged, perhaps prayer is the first thing we ought to do. Mother Teresa and her sisters wake up at 5am for prayers before the start of each work day. Prayer is indeed the greater work. In prayer we remind ourselves we cannot do God's work in our own strength. It is a recognition that we need God. More importantly, we learn in prayer that God is not simply a task-giver or a plan distributor. God is a Person. God is our Friend. God is our Heavenly Father.

Key Learning: Let our whole lives be soaked in the richness of prayer. For in prayer we discovery our Creator more and more. We learn that we are created in the image of God, and we are made to commune with God all day long, at work, at home, at play, and always in prayer.

My friends, when you feel down or discouraged, remember the 6Ps above. God’s PLANS are clearly revealed in the Word of God. When we feel lonely, God's PEOPLE are there, perhaps not in numbers, but 1 or 2 quiet individuals in our midst. When the chips are down, PERSEVERE in the joy of the Lord. Do not feel alone, as God’s PRESENCE is always with us, regardless of our feelings or emotions. When the things in the present seem meaningless, think of the future in God. God’s plans will PREVAIL always. Finally, God has not called us to be successful as the primary goal of life. God has called us to be faithful as our PURPOSE is to please God, not strike jackpots. In PRAYER, we will not only find heavenly wisdom, we discover our loving Heavenly Father.

conrade

3 comments:

John said...

i have really liked your post. its very encouraging.

YAPdates said...

John,
Thank you.

c

Anonymous said...

God Bless you for this encouraging message, I was feeling down and you helped me. thank you

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