Patsy Clairmont, the author of God Uses Cracked Pots, shares a true story about her son, Jason. When he was seven, she sent him off to school one day. After a little while, there was a knock at the door and when Patsy opened the door, it was Jason.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I’ve quit school,” he said.
“Why have you quit school, Jason?” she demanded.
Jason said, “Well, it was too long, it was too hard and it was too boring.”
Patsy responded, “Jason, you have just described life. Get back on the bus!”
How many of us can relate to little Jason?! There are times when that just describes life to a tee. When that feeling settles in, discouragement sets in.
William A. Ward offers us a mature warning about falling into the pit of discouragement with these sobering words. “Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.”
The Bible calls this feeling “losing heart.” And the apostle Paul appeals several times in his epistles “don’t lose heart.” In this text, he shows us how he overcame discouragement. And how we can too.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 1while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-19)
(1) Don’t Lose Heart–Accept that the Outward Man is Perishing.
Sickness, pain, suffering, and physical ailments can be discouraging. They can “take the wind out our sails.” But the reality is staring us back in the mirror. We are all getting older.
All of the health foods, vitamins, and exercise in the world, will not keep the outward man from perishing. It may prolong it a bit longer, but will not stop it.
(2) Don’t Lose Heart–Renew the Inner Man Every Day.
While we can’t control aging, we can continue growing. Spiritually. Outwardly we may be decreasing in strength, agility, and stamina, but inwardly we can be increasing in spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and strength. We are able to add Christian virtues, grow in grace and knowledge and produce the fruit of the spirit.
Take time every day for Bible reading, prayer, and meditation. Think about God. Reflect on your life. Work at getting better. Daily renewal helps us not “lose heart.”
(3) Don’t Lose Heart–See your afflictions with the right perspective.
Amazingly call Paul called his afflictions “light.” Yet, we read about him being beaten, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked, and suffering not only physically, but mentally and emotionally (2 Cor. 4:8-10; 6:4-6; 11:23-28). How could he look at his pain in this way?
The answer is found in Romans 8:18. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Compared to eternity suffering is short; compared to the reward of Glory the burden is light.
What’s hard and heavy is the burden of sin that brings guilt, shame, and remorse. The consequences of sin long outlive its pleasure. But the rewards of righteousness eternally eclipse whatever obstacles we endure.
(4) Don’t Lose Heart–Don’t dwell on what you see.
What we see is material. Physical. Temporal. And transitory. Our physical bodies. Our homes. Cars. Clothes. And personal treasures. Even the beauty of nature. All of this will pass away.
We will die and leave it all behind, never to be seen again. And when Christ comes again the world and everything in it will be destroyed. Wordsworth was right, “the world is too much with us…getting and spending we waste our powers.”
(5) Don’t Lose Heart–Focus on seeing the unseen.
Through the eye of faith, we see our Creator, our Savior, and the eternal spirit. We can envision the resurrection of the saints. And through Scripture, we get a glimpse into our heavenly home. A place of eternal bliss, beauty, and blessed association with the redeemed of the ages.
Happiness is a choice. You can control your attitude toward life’s hardships. And with the Lord’s help, you can overcome every adversity, heartache, and hurt.
Don’t lose heart.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman