Sometimes I get discouraged. How about you? When I get discouraged, sometimes, I become a discouragement to others around me. Let us think about this notion for a moment.
It is one thing to be discouraged. It is an entirely different thing to be a discouragement to others. But I find that my discouragement often spills over into the lives of others, and my discouragement becomes their discouragement. I lose sight of what matters, and I become a detriment to what God is doing in the lives of others. My circumstances cause me to want to project my discouragement onto others’ lives.
The apostle Paul got discouraged from time to time. That gives me hope to know someone as spiritual as Paul was discouraged occasionally. Humans get discouraged; it is normal and expected. He told the Philippians in 2:19 that the best way to deal with discouragement is to hope in the Lord Jesus.
All of our aspirations come down to God’s sovereign grace over our lives. We hope in Jesus, and thus we are encouraged because He cares about the details of our lives—all of them. He wants to hear about them. He wants you to share them with Him. He wants you to acknowledge to others and remind them that your hope is in Christ, and thus theirs should be too.
It doesn’t matter how small a detail you are dealing with. He wants you to hope in Him and to encourage others to do the same.
The Philippians were extremely discouraged. Paul couldn’t come and see them because he was in prison. However, he writes this letter to remind them of his hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy so they and he can be encouraged by mutual relationships and news they share with one another.
Do not give up on relationships.
Relationships may be your greatest source of discouragement from time to time, but they will also be the greatest source of encouragement for you.
Paul reminds the Philippians in 2:20 that he is sending Timothy, who has a relationship with them. There is no one like him who genuinely cares about their welfare. It is good to be reminded that others care, and we are not in this alone.
Recently I got a text message from a church member. It said, “I understand that you receive a FedEx load of prayer requests. A gentleman that I know was recently killed. He was not a believer; he actually identified himself as a Satanist. His young son has been having a very hard time with his death. Would you be willing to join my prayers for him?”
I responded back and said I would be honored to pray for him to find hope and encouragement in Jesus. The world needs Jesus! We need to stay focused on being faithful prayer warriors and faithful servants for Christ.
When I get discouraged or burdened by the sorrow of this world, I think about the people in my life who are faithful servants of Christ, and I think about the sacrifices they are making for Him. I ask the Lord to remove my focus from those who have made it fully about them and are absorbed in their selfishness.
Who in your life do you think of when you need to remember to be a faithful servant of Christ?
Let them know, but also, keep thinking about them.
While Paul was being an encouragement to the Philippians, he didn’t know how his trial in Rome was going to go. He was uncertain and that uncertainty produced anxiety in him like it would in you and me. He says in Philippians 2:24, “I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.” He is uncertain, but he is trusting in the Lord.
What in your life are you uncertain about that is causing you anxiety right now?
The Book of Acts doesn’t record Paul’s release from his Roman imprisonment, nor does it record his execution. But evidence furnished by the pastoral epistles supports the hypothesis of a release during which Paul did additional traveling in Crete, Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Achaia. There is good reason, therefore, to believe that Paul’s hope was realized.
You do not have to solve all the tension of other people’s lives by trying to convince them you do not have any in yours. Nor do you need to wallow in anxiety in order for people to be able to relate to you.
For people to be encouraged by you, people need to know you understand real life, yet you trust in the Lord for your future despite the uncertainties.
Who in your life shows care to you and seeks to encourage you in the Lord?
Paul reminded the Philippians in 2:26 that Epaphroditus was that kind of friend to them. He had a love and care for the Philippians that gave them renewed peace and encouragement. Are you that kind of person in others’ lives? We all need people like this in our lives. We all need to be people like this in other people’s lives —whether it is a godly dad or mom, or pastor, or Sunday school teacher, or youth worker, friend, accountability partner, ministry director, mentor, caregiver, or so forth and so on. Sometimes it is easy to fixate on what people have done wrong and feel sorry for ourselves. It is easy to lose sight of what others have done for us because of what others have done to us.
When I come across people who have lost sight of what others have done for them, I remind them. I want to encourage them to honor those who have served them faithfully. It will bring huge encouragement into a person’s life when they turn and honor, bless, and remember the sacrificial things others have done for them.
It is easy to get bogged down in what people are not or have not done for you, but what about focusing on what others have done for you? It will bring a spirit of hope and encouragement back to your life. Then you, in turn, can give that same hope and encouragement to others.
When each of us does this, it changes the world one relationship at a time from a world of unrest and discouragement to a world of peace and encouragement. We all have a part to play in this through the relationships of our lives.
It is to be encouraged in life and to be an encouragement in life to others. As I near the age of fifty, I realize more each day how much I need encouragement and how much I need to be a reminder of encouragement to others. It is easy to lose hope. It is easy to give up. It is easy to see what is not. It takes courage to see what is and can be. And when we declare these reminders to others, it not only gives others a chance to be encouraged but reminds us to be encouraged as well.
May the peace of Christ rule in your heart today as you seek to be an encouragement to others that brings peace to the storms of their lives.
About the Contributors
Kelly Williams (ThM, 1996) is co-founder and senior pastor of Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the author of several books and maintains a blog focusing on loving others into a real relationship with Jesus Christ.