Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Be Not Discouraged

You opened your mailbox and clicked on the message
In a quick scan, curt statements declared your effort was not good enough.
Disappointed, discouraged and dejected, you stared blankly at the screen.
Your work rejected. No reason provided.
Hot tears sting your eyes as you struggled to stay in control.

You picked up the letter and opened the envelop.
Cruel, vindictive and unjust words flashed across the pages
Taunting you, mocking you and jeering at you.
With a stroke of pen and malicious intent, you were vilified
The paper fluttered in your trembling hands.
Intense anger raged deep within you like hot lava in a volcano waiting to erupt.

A mix of emotions stirred within me as I helplessly watched these two scenes played out. First, in anger I wanted to scream;
“How dare …?”
Some hours later, I realized anger will not add value. What next then? Like a wisp of smoke, the humming of the hymn “What a Friend we have in Jesus” steadily drifted into my heart until the words took root—“Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
Despised and vilified?
“Take it to the Lord in prayer”
Aggrieved, angry and wounded?
“Take it to the Lord in prayer”
Men of old did the same, when the enemy rose up against them.
When Sennacherib came to invade Judah, Hezekiah took courage and declared, “Do not be afraid or discouraged … there is a greater power with us than with him” (2Chron 32:1 – 23). Sennacherib also wrote letters to Hezekiah—He mocked the king. He terrified the people. He insulted the Lord.
Hezekiah and the prophet cried to God in prayer. God answered. He sent an angel and annihilated the Assyrian host, 185,000 of them, and their king withdrew to his land in disgrace.
Jehoshaphat received alarming news from his men—a vast army had come against him from Edom (2Chron 20: 1 – 30). He resolved to seek the Lord. All the men, with their wives and children stood before the Lord as the king prayed—“… we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” God answered through his prophet saying, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s ... You will not need to fight in this battle … Stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, …”
Jehoshaphat and all the people praised and worshipped God with very loud voice. As they sang and praised, God sent an ambush into the enemy’s camp. They annihilated and destroyed one another.
For forty days, day and night, Goliath presented himself before the army of Israel (1Sam 17:16 – 50). He provoked them. He mocked and terrified them. He reproached the Lord. David encouraged them saying, “Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine.” He recalled how God delivered him from the lion and bear while he was tending the sheep. Goliath scorned and despised him.
But David confident in the Lord declared, “… I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty...” Assured that God will deliver the enemy into his hands, and the whole world will know there is a God in Israel. So David prevailed over Goliath with a sling and a stone.
In all these instances, deliverance came by the Hands of the Almighty God. He intervened in a way made obvious to all, that it was only by God’s hands, those called by His name were saved. And there was a great plunder afterwards!
When we endure much ridicule from the proud and much contempt from the arrogant (Ps 123:4), we are assured that God resist the proud and pours contempt on those who defy Him and His people.
These three witnesses encouraged me that at times of great distress; our first action must be to seek the help of God and trust in His enduring mercy.
We should never be discouraged but take it to the Lord in prayer.
If God be for us, who can be against us – knowing that God is with us to help us in all our troubles inspires hope. It encourages us to stand firm. In all these things we are more than conquerors. God makes our trials our gain. Faith in God and His remarkable ability to intervene in mysterious ways on our behalf inspires courage in our hearts in trying times.
When we take it to the Lord in pray, we will ultimately celebrate victory and it will be with resounding thanksgiving.
Are you distressed and discouraged? Will you take it to the Lord in prayer?

Take it to the Lord in prayer. Composed by Joseph M. Scriven 1855. Performed by Chris McDaniel

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