After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
There are days when discouragement rears its ugly head.
Days when all I want to do is pull up the bed covers again and enter back into peaceful slumber. Days when I’m not sure my brain will last until 2pm, let alone the end of the day. Days when I can hardly keep my eyes open or think straight…let alone pray with any cohesion or fervor.
Today was that day. Discouragement reared its ugly head, indeed. As my feet hit the bedroom floor, the immediacy of my need for supernatural strength became overwhelmingly clear. “Oh, Lord,” I prayed silently, “give me strength for the day ahead. I desperately need some encouragement.”
I stumbled to the coffee pot and, after doctoring up a lovely cup of brew, plopped down in the leather chair, my chosen spot for reading the Word. Venturing through the book of Hebrews was my most recent daily joy, and the Lord knew just what passage to send my way at that very moment.
It would be his faithful answer to my weary prayer for help.
Many of you may recognize the passage as the “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11). At that moment, it became a wellspring of encouragement for my feeble heart and tired body.
If discouragement has reared its unwelcome, ugly head in your own heart and mind today; if circumstances are heavy and complicated today; if relationships are proving difficult to navigate; if approaching God’s throne of grace is a battle, my prayer for you is the same one I prayed for myself: Oh, Lord, give my brothers and sisters strength for the day ahead. We desperately need some encouragement!
Start with these truths; pray through them; ask the Holy Spirit to encourage your heart by them; then, move forward with your day, trusting God to help you receive them with faith to live in the light of his precious, strong promises.
Here are 10 Encouragements from the Hall of Faith (for the Discouraged and Weary Saint):
- Everything you see and know was created and is sustained by the Word of God. This includes your very life and every circumstance that touches you (Hebrews 11:1-3).
- God created and sustained the faith of every believer in the past. Therefore, he created and will sustain your faith right now, today and all days.
- The believers of history were imperfect, weak and needy. But God, in his great mercy, revealed himself and his strength despite their weaknesses. In the same way, God does not require your strength in order to work – because he knows you don’t have any. He delights to light your eyes to the pot of clay you are, and then to mold you by his intentional, compassionate handiwork, always to bring himself glory and you, eternal joy.
- It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Not your performance. Not your results. Not your good works. Not a perfect track record. Not what others think of you. Faith. And faith alone.
- Fear of the Lord is the only cure to your fear of the world. True faith in God’s unshakeable promises will be the only cure for your fear of man (Hebrews 11:7). Whatever obstacle you are up against right now, whatever situation or person is causing you anxiety and unrest, remember and recite the words of the Psalmist: “What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). The Lord is your helper, both now and forevermore.
- There is nothing too far-fetched or difficult that God’s power cannot overcome. Like Sarah, whose barren womb made childbirth seem absolutely impossible, trust and know that the God who created the universe holds every outcome in his hands (Hebrews 11:11-12). If God would mercifully choose to save wretched sinners like you and I, calling us out of darkness and into his marvelous light, he can and will also care for you in the best possible way, extending his love and grace to you through your circumstances – even those that may seem utterly bereft of any positive outcome.
- You are an exile on the earth (11:13). This world is not your home. It is not your final stop. Even the believers of history felt like strangers. This is a blessing because it means that your identity is not found in establishing yourself within an imperfect world, replete with all its empty enticements and false areas of security. Rather, your strange-ness to this world is cause for you to rejoice – what freedom from its bonds you have in Christ!
- God made it clear that he had prepared for his chosen people of history a better country, a homeland, a heavenly city (Hebrews 11:13-16). This same glorious future will be yours, believer! And it is the same country, the same city that believers of old hoped in and looked forward to attaining. If you feel far from home right now, imagine just how much closer you are to your eternal inheritance than your brothers and sisters of times past. Your glorious future is coming!
- God, by faith, gives you the strength to walk in wisdom and do something. To act. And to trust the Holy Spirit that he is willing and working in you for God’s good pleasure. Abraham passed God’s test, offering up Isaac to the Lord (Hebrews 11:8, 17-19). Isaac blessed his sons, as did Jacob, who chose to worship the living God (Hebrews 11:20-21). By faith, Joseph encouraged the Israelites and prepared them for the future exodus (Hebrews 11:22). Moses’ parents hid the child who, in his adult years, would choose righteousness over sin. By faith, he would lead the Israelites across the Red Sea; by faith, they would follow and obey the Lord (Hebrews 11:23-29).
- Your faith was founded and will be perfected by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 11:39-40, 12:2). This is a promise. The Word of Life, himself, caused you to hear the gospel with faith. Jesus is the impetus for faith! In the midst of your discouragement and weariness today, dear saint, look to Jesus. Look to your Founder. Look to your Sustainer. Look to your Perfecter. In your own season of discouragement, imitate the faith of the saints of old, founded and perfected in the Promised One, Jesus Christ.
Come, weary saints, and be strengthened in faith today. May your hearts be revived by the promises of our great God, faithful throughout the ages!