Dec 23, 2008

Dismayed, Downtrodden & Discouraged

I have become despondently disappointed in the past few weeks. Three different times we extended a hand to people who were in need, people in somewhat hopeless situations. Three times we got our hopes raised that this time would make a difference for them. This time someone’s life would change. Someone would reach out for a hand and then turn their life around. Three times we were taken for granted. Three times we were somewhat deceived. Three times we were let down.

We’re not spring chickens, Tom & I. We’ve been around this particular block a few times. We know it is human nature for some people to get all the free help they can without any exertion on
their part. Yet there is always that one in a million that gets help at the perfect time and is then able to turn his or her life around. Isn’t there?

I hear stories of hope, healing and victory every day; I know they are out there. But recently, I became exhausted and unable to give any more. Depleted. My hope for mankind was at an all time low. I felt it was time to withdraw, rebuild, reconnoiter, stockpile. I wondered: Is that scriptural? Is it Biblical? And I noticed the irony that I could feel this way in my heart while the song “Give Me Your Eyes” played repeatedly in my head.
All I could do was beg for mercy, pray that God would give me His “eyes for humanity,” because mine were woefully lacking.

I turned to the book of II Thessalonians, I knew it to be a book on encouragement, and it was. Not at first, I had to study it for awhile, but eventually, God brought the encouragement into focus.
The first chapter opened my eyes to the core significance of doing good works: it is simply to glorify God. It isn’t necessarily to change someone’s life or to have a huge impact. Through God’s grace, we are to perform good works simply to bring glory to God.
I should direct all that I do to God, not to the hurting person. Focus on giving Him glory and not on seeing results of my work. My faith, my hope in God, is not weakened or to be distrusted based on
  • how people react,
  • how many times I get “suckered” by them,
  • how many efforts that produce no visible, immediate fruit, or
  • how many hurting lives are not changed as a result of my efforts.

Paul brings in the encouragement in chapter two by reminding us that our hope is founded on God, not on our works or success. The love of God & the hope for eternal life, materialized in our experiences in Him and His promises to us – this is our base for comfort and encouragement. Paul encourages us to pray for each other to be “worthy of our calling.” He knows it’s tough, He knows it’s wearisome and dubious at times. We need to encourage and support each other through prayer.

Chapter three brings it all home. Paul defines success in ministry as this: That God’s Word is spread. That’s it. He didn’t define success as people heeding your advice or altering their lifestyles in response to your offerings. When I gave milk and bread, I also gave a Bible. Paul had total faith in the power of that Bible. I didn’t. Paul advises us to put the Word out there and pray that it have “free course.” Pray that oppositions are removed and the reader convicted. God will glorify His word, that’s not my job.

I strongly believe when people have physical needs, we need to meet them as best we can. I know we need to be generous, we need to be loving, and we need to be helpful. I also know a lot of people take advantage of this. When responding to the masses, check your motivation. Why are you doing it? Is it to spread the Word or to glorify God? Don’t let discouragement overcome you. Pray for others, too, that they don’t get discouraged. I do feel better now. I’m still dragging my feet and a little gun-shy, but I’m not hopeless.

Interesting side note: Paul said we should pray for safety, too. It’s an evil world & it can be dangerous when you reach out to strangers. There is a need for protection as well as encouragement.

And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.”


The Seeker said...

Your efforts are not lost on me, my friend. I see your heart and your continued help to me always makes a difference.

Merry "Christ"-mas!

Anonymous said...

Valerie, you should be a writer for a Christion publication since you are so good!

Anonymous said...

Val I was reminded that we are planting seeds.....and seeds take time to cultivate, grow, and produce. So although you may not see the product of your work right away, there is comfort in knowing that God is still at work." being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6

Poof said...

Thanks for the nice comments, you guys are awesome! I love you, have a great Christmas!