As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief… For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret… 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 ESV
In the first part of this two-part lesson, I shared with you what God has been teaching me about the sinful and selfish nature of self-pity. I stand by that teaching. However, I also want to share with you the beauty that God is revealing to me through my season of discouragement.
I have been feeling distant from God for a while now. Months actually. I didn’t freak out though because this has happened before and I have come to understand that it is natural to have what I call “dry spells” in your relationship with God, just as it is natural to experience those dry spells with a spouse. We don’t like them, but we know that they will happen. They aren’t anything to become overly alarmed about, but simply something to be worked through together.
God has been using my season of discouragement to help me work through this dry spell. Like the Old Testament Israelites, time and time again God must allow my perceived security to be threatened in order for me to turn back to Him. So I have, and I am grateful. That doesn’t mean, however, that I am not still somewhat discouraged in certain areas of my life.
But I read a verse last night that I found immensely helpful –
Stand in awe and sin not. Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Psalm 4:4 KJV
Now, granted I have not looked up the meaning of this verse in its original Hebrew, but this is how I took it. It is okay to be dismayed at your circumstances. It is okay to be amazed at how things got to where they are. It’s okay to be discouraged. It is okay to “stand in awe”… but don’t sin. Don’t become self-pitying and don’t allow yourself to wallow in your discouragement. Don’t allow your circumstances to define you or to become something by which you identify yourself. You are not a victim, a martyr, or a damsel in distress. We are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
I am reminded of a quote by Laura Story – “God made our emotions, yet they too must bow before Him.”
God made us emotional beings for a reason. They help us be empathetic, passionate, and courageous. No emotion is bad in and of itself. Even anger can be righteous. So it is no sin to be sad. It is not wrong to be discouraged. But we must remember that though we are emotional beings, God never intended for us to be ruled by them. We were made to be ruled by Him.
If you’re going through a season of discouragement like me, let me offer you a word of comfort. God means your discouragement to bring you closer to Him, closer to repentance, closer to reconciliation (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). He can use any situation for good (Romans 8:28).
Let me be clear, God does not discourage us. We become discouraged by our circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t use those feelings as a means to an end (the end always being a closer relationship with Him). I believe my discouragement is MEANT to draw me closer to my Savior, and that yours probably is too. So take heart, and seek Him.
Jesus help us. Help us to find You in our discouragement. We know that You meet us where we are, and that there is no sadness too deep and no situation too dire for You to redeem and make into something beautiful. Work out that beauty in our lives, and teach us to always turn to You in times of hardship and in times of joy. In Your Loving Name, Amen.