Monday, January 23, 2012
Let The Spirit Work
There are no “steps” to “overcoming” discouragement. There is no answer, no fix for this problem. Furthermore, the Bible was not given for the purpose of enabling us to “conquer” this or any other emotional malady. It contains no instructions to follow that will lead to an answer. When genuine Christian love and wisdom speaks to such matters, it gives no prescription to apply, no regimen to take up, no course to take, no program to sign up for, no service to attend, no dramatic experience of divine intervention to plead for.The whole list thing is what happens when the church becomes a dispensary instead of an institution that shapes people. As Mike points out, people do not operate like machines - we do not live according to a strict set of rules:
Discouragement is a part of life and must be dealt with in the context of life. The reasons we find ourselves discouraged, the symptoms we experience, and the ways we find help, relief, and renewed strength are as unique as each individual. If I were trying to help a friend make it through a time of discouragement, I might even advise him to follow one or two of the suggestions in the list above. I would not argue that they contain no wisdom. What I am saying is that when you present a list like that from the pulpit or in another form of “Biblical counsel” you have created an expectation that the Bible is an answer book for all our problems and all we have to do is grasp its principles, apply them to our lives, and voila! no more discouragement (or whatever).
When I’m discouraged today, I might need someone to challenge me to get back in the game. Tomorrow, I might realize I need to take a walk with my wife and talk some things out. Next day, I might need to take a nap. Some days, lunch with a friend is in order. Other days, being alone helps. On certain days, I need to practice prayer more fervently. Other days, that will only discourage me further, so I should go mow the lawn or watch a ballgame. There are a million reasons why I get discouraged, and a million ways to help me work through it.But such situations cannot be dealt with in mass circumstances, they take relationships, hard won, with time and love and nonsense. But for that to work in a church the few have to build such relationships with a few more, and a few more and a few more. How is that going to make me famous? Get my book published?
Not sure, but it might help some discouraged people around you.