I have to admit something to you, dear reader: right now, my “hope tank” is running on fumes. As I prepared to write this week, all I could think was, “How on Earth am I supposed to encourage people when I, myself, feel so incredibly discouraged?”
I don’t share this with you for sympathy or for any selfish gain. Quite the opposite, actually. I share this because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there can be power in discouragement; it really just depends on what we do with it.
If anyone knew discouragement, it was David. We talk a lot about David before he was anointed and then we talk a lot about David and his less than stellar decisions when he finally became king, but really, I imagine the wait during those two bookend events was rather dark. I mean think about it: David had been given a promise and an anointing from God after being overlooked for so long. Finally! Someone saw him and not just anyone, the God of the universe. He had hope. He knew where God was taking him, but after the years started to stack up, at best, it really seemed like God was taking a whole lot of backroads to get there. Bumpy, rocky, dangerous backroads. Frankly, if I was David, I’d wonder if God had really been the One behind all of this after all or if that old guy, Samuel, got it wrong and wasted all that oil on the wrong guy. Because when you consistently have people trying to kill you for what God called you to, you have to wonder, “God what the heck are you doing here?”
The presence of opposition isn’t a sign that you’ve been disqualified from God’s ultimate purpose for your life.
You might not have people actively trying to kill you, but in some area of your life, you probably have a great deal of opposition threatening to discredit what God has promised. It’s important to remember though that even though he always seemed to find himself in precarious situations, David was called, “A man after God’s own heart.” This encourages me because it shows me that the presence of opposition isn’t a sign that you’ve been disqualified from God’s ultimate purpose for your life. Because despite all of David’s troubles – both those that he brought on himself and those that he didn’t — it was from his lineage that the Hope of the World was born.
Still, you have to wonder if David ever thought about giving up. It had to be exhausting doing the same thing to fight for your life every single day year after year only to be met with more of the same thing when you opened your eyes the next day. You have to wonder if he ever thought, “What’s the point?”
But what if David had given up and let Saul kill him? What if he had given up and just gone back home to tending sheep? What would the lineage of Jesus be like? Would there be a lineage at all? Furthermore, what would our hope be without Jesus? That’s a sobering thought.
But that’s not what David did; David let his discouragement bring him closer to God.
See, the decision you choose to make in the midst of your discouragement is about more than just you. And regardless of how hopeless it seems, you always have a choice to make when you are discouraged: you can choose to let discouragement be the end of your journey, or you can choose to let your discouragement be the fuel that propels you into the arms of the Father. I know which one seems easier, but which one will be worth it in the long run? Not just for you, but for those who will come after you. Choose that one. The fumes of hope can still move you forward. It might be ugly, and it might be slow, but forward is forward. Keep going.