Ever feel like you are on a roller coaster? …up, down, all around. Sometimes the cares of life are enough to make you want to give up! Check out! Quit! I recently plummeted unexpectedly into one of those lows. Discouragement!
…and strangely enough, it came on while I was reading my Bible. The Book of Daniel. It may be very plain to you, but I just wasn’t “getting” it! Let’s face it, it is kinda scary stuff! Oh, I don’t mean the wonderful accounts of the Hebrew children’s faithfulness, the fiery furnace and the Fourth Man, Daniel’s deliverance in the lion’s den; even Nebuchadnezzor becoming like a beast, or the handwriting on the wall. I love every bit of that. I understand it pretty well. Then you come to Daniel’s visions of the times to come. Disturbing! I just wasn’t getting the lion, the leopard, the bear, the beasts, the ram, the goat, the horns big and small, the kings, the kingdoms….even after I prayed for understanding, my head swam. I closed my Bible with a huge sigh, and proceeded to spiral into a depressed funk. I just felt “icky.” Then the accuser started in …”You sure aren’t very smart.” “Who do you think you are, writing an inspirational blog, when you can’t understand your Bible?” An the always popular: “Maybe you should just give it up.”
I moped around for a while. My “blues” (and my blogger’s block) continued for another day or so until I decided to go back to Daniel and read through it, even if I didn’t understand it or enjoy it. That is when I came across a couple of verses that showed me that Daniel himself was having a few qualms about his visions. He said that he was grieved in his spirit in the midst of his body, and that the visions of his head troubled him: Daniel 7: 15. Pretty much described my reaction! Then, in the next chapter:
Daniel 8:27: And I, Daniel, fainted, and was sick certain days; afterwards I rose up and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.
So! I wasn’t the only one who felt “icky” after those visions. I got to thinking that maybe I was feeling a tiny bit of what Daniel felt all these centuries later. I began to realize that maybe that was the point! We are to respond to the Word of God. That is why He gave it to us. Maybe my discouragement and disquiet was something I was supposed to feel.
Discouragement seems to have happened frequently to the people of God in the Bible! In fact, it seems to be a recurring theme. There was Moses, who was burdened by the care of the children of Israel; Joshua, who was beside himself over the defeat at Ai; David, grieved over the death of Absolom; Nehemiah, when he heard of the condition of the city of God; Job, in the troubles he endured; Elijah, when he said. “It is enough! Just let me die!”; Jonah, when he said pretty much the same thing; Peter, after he had denied the Lord. Even the mighty Apostle Paul spoke of being troubled. Discouragement is not new. It is part of the human condition, and is necessary to turn our hearts to God that we may cry out for relief and restoration.
Every one of those men of God found the remedy for their discouragement in the voice of God. None of them stayed in the doldrums of their emotional depression. I am not talking about making lemonade when you are handed lemons. This is stepping up and out of your wilderness on the arm of your Beloved. Their discouragement and grief was significant because they found God in it. It led them to the glorious presence ( and dare I say, favor?) of God. If you are discouraged, you are ripe for the Word of the Lord! He will lead you to your next level.
It is why we hear; “Think it not strange…;” “Count it all joy….;” “Blessed are you when….;” and, “Fear not!” Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation. (trouble, difficulties, sadness, grief, unsettledness.) But “Be of good cheer….I have overcome the world!” Come to Jesus and cast your burdens on Him. Let your discouragment lead you to the cross. In that way, it becomes the divine tool that He uses to draw you to Himself, not the wedge that drives you from Him.
Jesus told us that in the last days there were going to be troubles. Read Luke 21. He also said, “…when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)
Well, I still haven’t figured out Daniel’s visions, but they don’t depress me anymore. I have found that I am in pretty good company when I am discouraged…almost everyone in the Bible! The next time discouragement comes my way I am going to recognize it for what it is! A divine pathway to the presence of the Lord!
Let’s Pray: Father of Light, Thank You that YOU have overcome for us! We ask you to shine your divine light into every circumstance in our lives. Help us to see every trouble and difficulty as a pathway to You! Make discouragement into “courage-ment” as we turn to You in all things. In Jesus’ name,
Recommended Bible reading: Numbers 11:10-15; Jonah 4:3,8; 1Kings 19:2,4; Psalm 42; Luke 16:23-31
Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.