REBUILDING YOUR BROKEN WORLD: A Perspective on Discouragement

It a bit of a cheesy story but someone wrote a fictitious story to make a point. 

Once upon a time it was announced that the devil
was going out of business and would sell all
his equipment to those who were willing to pay the price.
On the big day of the sale,
all his tools were attractively displayed.

There were Envy, Jealousy, Hatred, Malice, Deceit, Sensuality, Pride,
Idolatry, and other implements of evil display. Each of the tools was
Marked with its own price tag. 

Over in the corner by itself was a harmless looking,
wedge-shaped tool very much worn, but still it bore a
higher price than any of the others.

Someone asked the devil what it was, and he answered,
"That is Discouragement."
The next question came quickly,
"And why is it priced so high even though
it is plain to see that it is worn more than these others?" 

Because replied the devil,
"It is more useful to me than all these others.
I can pry open and get into a man's heart with that
when I cannot get near him with any other tool.

Once I get inside, I can use him in whatever way
suits me best. It is worn well because
I use it on everybody I can,
and few people even know it belongs to me." 

This tool was priced so high that no one could buy it, and to this day it has never been sold.

It still belongs to the devil, and he still uses it on mankind.

In 1987 while leading my first church assignment in French Lick Indiana, I was totally overwhelmed by discouragement. It was so real to me that I wrote about it in my journal over and over you can track the words of a young guy longing for people’s lives to change. Interestingly enough the only difference between then and now is then I allowed it to cause me to leave a community in which I had built a tremendous amount of relationships. Due to discouragement, I moved away and learned some very valuable lessons in the process. 

 Discouragement 1 to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence; dishearten 2 to advise or persuade (a person) to refrain from doing what you know you should do.

What causes you the most discouragement in your life? Where are you most discouraged by today?  It is important to identify where you are regarding discouragement so that God’s word can have maximum impact. What makes you feel like you can’t go on another day.

Discouragement destroys God’s plans for our lives; just before we receive God’s highest and best, many of us give in and give up due to discouragement. How can we learn to rebuild our lives in a broken world? We have been learning that God has a plan.

A few weeks ago we talked about the fact that we so often want to ask where God is when things go wrong in our life. We learned that much of what happens on this earth that is bad is due to the waywardness and rebellion of humanity yet God stands waiting and ready for all who will come to Him and live in His way.  James 1:2-4 tells us that we can persevere through our troubles by letting God build endurance into our character. 

Joyful endurance

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 NLT

Last week we learned that God wants to give us supernatural wisdom.

 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
 James 1:5-8 NLT

Today we look at the ability to overcome discouragement. Today we learn about adjusting our perspectives to allow God to fill us with perseverance. It is about learning to have divine perspective and endurance.

9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. 

 12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:9-12 NLT

In these verses is the answer to discouragement. I’m going to be honest with you when I read that without some kind of study I don’t get very much out of it. In fact at first blush I have no idea what is being stated here.

The bottom line is that no matter if you are rich or poor everything can change with a phone call or a knock on the door. You may be rich but one diagnosis from a specialists can turn your world upside down. You may be in a marriage and have no idea something is wrong until you walk home one day and find a note on the counter or refrigerator that says he or she is leaving and your world turn’s upside down. You may have invested years in a company only to have them close and you lose your retirement that you had been counting on and your world breaks apart. 

Before you give up or quit allow this passage to look differently at your circumstances, your future and your motivation.

How to hang tough in hard times;

Accept God’s Perspective on our Circumstances v. 9-11

9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

What is it that the poor have to boast about or that makes them spiritually elite? They are rich in faith because they have no other options. The easiest place to trust God and have faith is in the ICU section of the local hospital. It’s amazing how close you get to God when you really are desperate. Those believer’s around the world that are living in third world situations are rich in faith because they are often trusting God for daily food and water. If they are hungry they don’t get to go to a refrigerator and pull out something to eat. If they are sick they don’t get to go to a doctor’s office or the emergency room. They can’t go to a bank and write a check so they are rich in faith.

By way of contrast, when you are rich it takes an enormous amount of will power to trust God or have faith. You don’t have to trust God because you really don’t have to. You may have security in the things you accumulate or possess. When you have nothing your level of trust goes off the charts. Don’t allow your happiness to rely on circumstances. Circumstances come and go but if you trust God you can stay steady when everything around you falls apart.

We do this by looking at our circumstances through the eyes of faith.

The apostle Paul wrote these words in 2 Corinthians 4: 

 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 

 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. 

 13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”[c] 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,[d] will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 

 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[e] being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Cor. 4:8-18 NLT

May God give us the courage and faith to stand strong in our circumstances instead of demanding that they get immediately better. 

Accept God’s Perspective on our Future v. 12a

There are two myths about our future that we need to be aware of:

1. It’s bad now and will never get better.

Use the illustration of raising kids. (diapers, teen age years)

2. If I do it God’s way things will always get better on my time table.

We tend to think that if we do things God’s way we will get our way. We get easily discouraged when we do a few things hoping that it will motivate God to change our circumstances. Look at verse 12 again:

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

You should circle the word “afterward,” because there will be an ending to your circumstances. Things will eventually change but we are called to persevere in the hard times. It may be that God will turn and change it overnight but normally we are called to hang on and learn endurance.

We are taught here that are blessed by God when we patiently endure.

Crown of life: In the days when this was written a crown was a wreath worn by a victor or a person in authority. The spirit of this phrase is that when we endure we receive “life.” It “consists of life.” Have you ever been exposed to someone who has suffered but allowed God to work in their lives? There is something so attractive about them. They are hurting yet there is a joy that nothing in this world can take away. You go to visit them and support them and you walk away having been touched by their incredible spirit. (Recent wreck with some high school kids hitting a car with a family head on. The father’s reaction to the kid who was driving)

People like that have received a crown consisting of life. They have learned things about God that you only learn in suffering or the fire. They have learned things that you only learn when your world fall apart but your trust in God goes way up. It really does come back to that phrase you get tired of hearing me say: Bitter or better?

We do this by looking at our future, through the lens of hope.

We have been promised life abundant here and now and we have been promised life with God someday that will have no tears or sorrows or disappointment or discouragement.

Listen to this very carefully. When our world falls apart we have our best chance to really get close to God in a very personal way. It is in times like this when we learn to die to ourselves and crucify our wills so that we can be resurrected with Christ as the center of our lives.

The reason the church in the book of Acts turned their world upside down was not because they had more toys to work with. It wasn’t because they had an all star band or stage with perfect lighting. It wasn’t because they had more videos in their services or a good drama or even a dynamic preacher or pastor. It wasn’t because they had anything slick or large or mega.

It was because they were serving Christ at the risk of dying for their faith and everything they did took on a meaning way beyond anything most of us can understand. They had a joy that baffled those looking on.  They had a hope that could not be taken away with the threat of death and personal destruction. This joy came even when they were being burned at the stake.

We need to accept God’s perspective on our circumstances

We need to accept God’s perspective on our future and we need to:

Accept God’s Perspective on our Motivation v.12b

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

“Those who love Him”

I am not here today to talk at length about my personal life or discouragement but I am learning that it doesn’t go away with more stuff or more people or a bigger church or a different job. You see I still have talks with God sometimes and have to be reminded by Him that if I am not careful I can make everything I do about me.

I mean if I do everything as right as I possibly can and lead the church in a way that is biblical and following the mission Christ gave the church to do then in a human way of thinking I/we should receive the blessings of God everyday all day long forever and ever.

In those moments when I think doing something else with my life might be a better option, it is then that I am challenged to think about my motivation for doing what it is I do with my life. Am I doing life because I hope that my life will work and I will be always blessed or am I doing what I do because I love God and want to be used by Him wherever He chooses to place me?

I want to close today with a real life illustration about being motivated in our circumstances and future by love.

You may be thinking that you got a raw deal or that your life is never going to change.  You may be on the verge of doing something or making a choice that is life shattering but my prayer for you is that you will gain a new perspective on your circumstance, you future and your motivation.

A family that attends this church was recently highlighted in a TV series called All Stars Among Us. Jay Wollenburg nominated his wife Michelle to be honored for how she has fought for her family and children with challenges. I saw this the other evening as I was flipping through the channels and immediately realized that this was the way we should end this service today.

We do this by looking at our motivation, through the eyes of love.

Whatever you are going through today I want to encourage you to hang on. I want to encourage you to not give up on a tough marriage, or a challenging kid that is driving you crazy or a job that often tends to look like a dead end street. It just may be that God has you right where He wants you and where He can get our attention.


Benediction: Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. Jude 24-25 NLT


Re-evaluate your circumstances.

The Test:  Is my faith in things that are perishable or things that are permanent?

Re-evaluate your focus .

The Test: Is my hope determined by the size of my problems or the certainty of God’s promise?

Re-evaluate your motivation .

The Test: Is my primary motivation to love Christ or simply get relief?