Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Asterisk For Discouragement

“The saints and people of God have no true reason for their discouragements, whatever their condition be” –William Bridge

I wholeheartedly agree with that William Bridge quote…provided that I get to add an asterisk. And after this asterisk I like to put the words “except for mine”. You see, I agree in principle with what Bridge is saying. It’s really great advice for you and all of the stuff that you are dealing with. But it’s not totally true for me.

You see, I’m unique.

I am entitled to discouragement and sorrow. If you knew some of the things that I have been through you would understand that I am exempt from commands like “rejoice in the Lord always”. Discouragement is the only fitting response to the situations that I find myself in. It would be inhuman for me to not be discouraged.

I’m wondering if you want to claim an exemption too.

You’ve worked your tail off at your present job. You have given this company everything; long hours that you should have spent with your family, holidays working, not to mention the toll it takes on you physically and emotionally. When the possibility for a promotion comes around you are certain that the job will be yours.

It’s not.

You’ve been passed over. Some younger, less qualified, less dedicated guy gets the promotion. So you give up. You aren’t going to work as hard anymore and you send your resume to a rival company. You’re ticked off at God too. You had prayed for this—hardcore sweating and pleading type of praying—but apparently to no avail. You spiral into depression, discouragement, bitterness, and a host of other nasty words.

Do you get an asterisk?

What Discouragement Really Is

According to Bridge, we ought not be discouraged because we “have possession and interest in God Himself”. If you are a believer then you are in union with Jesus Christ. Discouragement is actually saying that God is not enough. It’s not simply a result of fatigue, circumstances, or having a bad frame. Those might be things that make discouragement an easy temptation to succumb to, but they are not the cause of despair; idolatry is.

In reality our discouragement is stupid and faithless. Discouragement is to wail over broken cisterns that we do not need. To have Christ is to have everything that we need.

Stop telling yourself that your suffering is unique and more significant than the redemption of Christ. You and I do not have a license to be discouraged. No matter how deep in the pit you descend, the Lord Jesus has sank further and redeemed it(see here).

Thankfully, Jesus even rescues and redeems those like you and I that have faithless episodes of discouragement. May we live out that redemption and stop pretending like that isn’t better than any other news you’ll receive today.


That William Bridge quote is from his book A Lifting Up for the Downcast, which is an excellent book that I would recommend to anyone battling depression or discouragement.

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