“And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9 NASB
It is human nature to grow discouraged at times. Our finite being does not have the perspective of an infinite God, a God who has a plan; a plan established before the foundation of the world. We humans are stuck in our own time-warp, one that reflects our desires and wishes, not necessarily God’s.
Floundering in the Bog
Even as Christians, we often are self-centered, ploughing and plunging around in a bog of dejection, miring ourselves in self-pity rather than moving forward toward the outstretched arms of the God who created us and delivered us to the other side of hopelessness. As we twist and turn toward how we want things to go, we sink deeper and soon feel more desperate and despairing.
The testing of our faith
But you say, I don’t want to be tested; I hate being in this bog of discouragement. Testing is painful, and, in the end, I might have to give up my desires in favor of God’s plan. Yet James tells us that the trials and testing of our faith produce endurance. Endurance implies I must stay in the bog for a while instead of instant gratification of my desires or a swift rescue.
While waiting for Him to rescue me
God gets our attention in trials and disappointment. Faith needs to be exercised to be strong enough to stand up to the world and its troubles. A strong faith in Him sets our feet on solid ground instead of the sinking sand of a world that is passing away. Abraham, when God ordered him to sacrifice the promised seed, his long-awaited son Isaac, did not despair or insist on his own way, but offered Isaac up knowing that an eternal and sovereign God could make everything right. Abraham is the father of faith.
One of the first Bible verses I memorized after becoming a Christian was Philippians 1:6; the assurance that I was indeed saved, that He would continue to perfect me, and someday I would be released from the worldly bog and receive the crown of life. The perfecting part includes discouragement. The harvest that Paul spoke of in Galatians is my recognition that no bout of discouragement or despair can separate me from the love of Christ–not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, peril, or sword. Like Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego in the fiery furnace, I have One who will ultimately fulfill His plan, His way, while at the same time allowing me to emerge unscathed. So, when the mire of despair surrounds us and doubt plummets us, we know that we belong to the One who foreknew and called us to become conformed to the image of His Son, perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.