I think any of us who are walking with the Lord would quickly tell anyone who inquired that this life of faith and service is not easy. It’s a battle. It’s work. It’s intense. It hurts. BUT… it’s amazing. It’s beautiful. It’s worthwhile. It’s true life!
We are called to go and make disciples and I can honestly say that’s my desire and even my passion but in recent weeks I’ve battled against much discouragement. I know that when it comes to accomplishing the will of God, discouragement can not possibly be from Him… So, I’ve found it crucial to be armed spiritually to fight against the discouragement coming at me on all sides. I’m very grateful for some pieces of encouragement the Lord has provided me with through His Word in recent days…
As I live my life in this world but not of this world, I find it very difficult to face the realities of evil in the lives of my unbelieving friends. It hurts me to see the destructive patterns they choose to follow and sometimes their sinful choices and actions hurt me directly. In some of those cases, my flesh desires to quit caring for them and to walk away and give up on their salvation. Then I read:
“The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26, NLT)
and I know, I can not put up the walls that parts of me desire to put up. The Lord’s desire is for me to continue to speak truth gently into their lives and to be patient when they are difficult to deal with. I am comforted to be reminded that if their hearts do change it will be God’s doing, not mine. I am humbled to be reminded that they are being held captive by the Devil’s trap and reminded that I must battle for them in prayer, specifically and intentionally.
I think of Jeremiah, a prophet in the Old Testament. The Israelites had turned away from God, the God of their fathers. They were living very evil lives, rejecting all the Lord had commanded them to do. God gave Jeremiah the job of calling them out of their sin and back to Him and though he did so faithfully, the people would not listen. They had no remorse for any of their sinful choices but they continued chasing after their own desires “like a horse plunging headlong into battle” (Jeremiah 8:6). I feel a bit like Jeremiah did when he wrote:
Oh that my head were waters,
and my eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night
for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Oh that I had in the desert
a travelers’ lodging place,
that I might leave my people
and go away from them!
For they are all adulterers,
a company of treacherous men.
(Jeremiah 9:1-2, ESV)
He wanted to weep day and night for the destruction that the Lord had to bring on his people due to their sinful lifestyles and yet at the same time, he wanted to run away to a home in the desert so that he no longer would have to face the adulterers and treacherous men. Then I am reminded again by Paul that I must continue to share the Word of God and “Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not” (2 Timothy 4:2, NLT) and “work at bringing others to Christ” (2 Timothy 4:5).
So I pray, Lord help us not to become weary in doing good for in YOUR proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up. (Galations 6:9)