Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. — Ezra 4:4, NIV
It’s funny how when you commit to the Lord’s purposes, life seems to start falling apart. Difficulties you never thought could exist come out of the woodwork. You are left scratching your head, wondering if you made a mistake. You might wonder if you heard God right or if agreeing with Him was a bad idea in the first place.
This aspect of our spiritual life – the battle to keep faith in the face of hardship – is exactly what the returning captives were facing here in Ezra. They started to rebuild and suddenly, all these wild, unruly people wanted to help. But the outsiders were not in it for the right reasons and got turned away. So, they started doing everything possible to derail the Israelite effort.
When we endeavor to do something for God, we will experience the same thing. Any goal to further the Kingdom of God will be met with discouragement and fear. These tools are the enemy’s favorite weapons. He will use whatever means necessary to make you stop in your tracks. This is an old story, maybe the oldest. As Adam and Eve participated in the beauty of Creation, the serpent started to do his work. He made them question the Lord’s purposes and suddenly, the wheels start falling off the bus.
Jesus is the expert of staring discouragement down. It’s humorous, looking back, to see how many times He has to rebuke the Disciples before they get God’s plan for the world, but it happens. Even though knowing discouragement is going to happen doesn’t make it easy to deal with. Yet, we don’t have to be victims.
I write this to myself as much as to you. I am in a season of what feels like chaos – anchored to the Lord by what feels like the thinnest of tethers. It takes a mature person of faith to look discouragement in the eye and not succumb to its siren song. It takes a stronger person than me for sure. That is why I feel so grateful to have Christ on my side. Only He is strong enough to show me how to change my heart towards what I am facing. I’m in way over my head, but He is the God who walks on water.
Because I serve a Prince of Peace who calms the storm, I can trust that these feelings of discouragement are only temporary. He will not allow them to sideline me for long. All He asks is for me to trust Him to do His good work and have a tiny bit of faith that He will carry me through.
Ask the Lord to turn your discouragements this week into encouragements and give you the eyes to see Him do it.
Heavenly Father – I know that whatever I seek to do with You will encounter trouble. It’s been that way since the beginning. But when discouragement comes, it is hard to keep doing Your will. Yet I don’t want to give up. I don’t have the heart to keep going, so I need Yours. Give me Your peace and strength to endure. Show me how to wait on Your timing and in the meantime, rejoice in the blessings You bring my way, every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.