Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Does God Get Discouraged?

He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth (Isa 42:4)

We often remind ourselves about God's ultimate victory, and the fact that He does not, can not, will not fail.

But how often do we remember that He does not get discouraged?

What a glorious, beautiful truth this is!

As Pastor John Piper reminds us, God's own happiness is the basis for our happiness. And God is happy for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that He cannot be thwarted in any way.

He will not be discouraged.

Is it safe for me to assume that many of you are easily discouraged, just like I am? Or perhaps, even though it's not easy to discourage you, it has happened anyway because things have simply become too overwhelming. At times like that, for people like us, it's helpful to remember God's victory, of course. But how much more assurance we can feel when we see His matchless self-confidence!

He will not be discouraged.

He has known from eternity past where the planets would be in their orbits right at this moment. And He has known just as long the alignments of governments and world powers. He has known the fall of the sparrow in the forest, and the hairs on our heads. What's more, He has not only known these things, but has ordained them. If you're a serious student of the Word, you know all of that. But it's not very encouraging to look at those facts if we picture our God as downcast, gloomy, irritable and frustrated because he's not certain how everything will turn out.

He is certain.

He will not be discouraged.

My mother was never calmer than when one of us needed to draw courage from her. I've seen wheedling parents pleading with their distressed children, whining like children themselves, and their children never fail to fall completely to pieces when they see their parents so undone. I'm sure you've seen this kind of scene: two children fall and scuff their knees a bit. Neither one begins to cry, because it wasn't really that bad. The mother of one child calmly says, "Well, it's okay. You're all right," and the child happily trots back to his playing. The other mother runs in a near panic, frantic over what has happened, and her formerly calm child dissolves into tears. If Mother thinks it's a tragedy, it must be one!

Our Heavenly Father has no fears about what is happening in your life right now, or in mine. I do not mean that He is callous or indifferent. I mean that He is utterly confident and perfectly competent to fulfill His promises to us.

He will not be discouraged.

To be discouraged simply means to lose one's courage, and it's a dangerous thing. Fear lashes out like a wounded animal that attacks its would-be rescuers. It isolates us in a prison with walls thicker than any ever made with brick and mortar. Cowardliness leads to lying, to cheating, to blame-shifting, to avoidance of even healthy risk. Fear protects itself at any cost, while love counts no sacrifice too great. It's true that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), and a little careful thought will show the inverse to be true as well. Where fear grows stronger, love is increasingly lost.

The great Scottish preacher George H. Morrison (1866-1928) tells us:

"We never can be patient without courage, and without courage we never can be pure. It calls for a little courage to be truthful, and it calls for a little courage to be kind. And sometimes it takes a great deal of courage just to say what we ought to say, and sometimes it takes more courage to say nothing. Do you know the commonest command in Scripture? The commonest command in Scripture is Fear not. Times without number in the Word of God it rings out upon us, Thou shalt not be afraid. For courage is at the roots of life, and it is the soil in which every virtue flourishes; it is no isolated or independent grace, but is the nursing mother of them all."

Do you know that God will not be discouraged?

I admit I never thought about the courage of our Lord until I was talking to my sons about the atonement a couple of years ago. My middle son, who is autistic, listened in silence until I talked about the crucifixion, and the fact that Jesus went willingly to Calvary for us. My son's eyes widened at that, and he said, "He was brave!"

Out of the mouths of babes!

Morrison says again, "I suppose there was never anyone on earth quite so courageous as our Savior Jesus Christ. Yet give a pagan that life of His to read, and I do not think he would say, How brave He was! He would say, How loving He was—how infinitely patient—how radiantly peaceful in the teeth of calumny; yet love and patience and radiance and peace were but His matchless courage in disguise."

Jesus' courage of course came from his own divine resources. But do you know that He can encourage you from the depths of His own courageous heart, the heart that faced Pilate without wavering, faced the Roman scourge and screamed (no doubt) under it's agony - but without faltering in His purpose, and faced Calvary without flinching?

He does not go to some celestial storehouse to find a box of courage to hand to his people when they need it. He has limitless stores of it right in His own heart, and He gives it liberally. Can you see it now, how it marks His features with a calmness and peace and confidence that seems to lighten your load as you look at it?

He will not be discouraged. And because of His courage, and His encouragement, we need never be discouraged either.

"Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." (Heb. 12:3)

He will not be discouraged!

(Photo taken by Betsy Markman in Colorado Springs, Colorado)

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