Several years ago, on the way to the airport to meet a friend, I stopped at a gas station to fill the empty tank of my car. After watching the indicator pass $15, $18, $20 and $24, I said to myself, “Something is wrong.” So I stopped pumping and looked under the car to see if gas was leaking out, but it wasn’t. The pump finally shut off at $38. When I got home, I complained about the high gas prices to my wife, Gisela. She laughed and said, “Well, you haven’t filled the tank in a long while.” Of course, this was true.
It would be great if we needed to fill up our tank only once and then could drive our car forever. But it doesn’t work that way. We have to keep filling the tank in order to keep going.
This is equally true as we follow Christ. We cannot just hear one message or read God’s Word once in a while and then hope that’s enough to stay encouraged and run our race successfully.
Jesus Himself said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
In order to be able to follow Jesus and cross the finish line victoriously, we need to fill our hearts daily with the encouragement, instruction, correction and hope that are found only in God’s Word.
Discouragement is a real thing, even for the most dedicated Christians.
As leaders, full-time Christian workers and sincere followers of Christ, we often dare not say we are discouraged, because we are afraid that people will think we are less spiritual or that our walk with the Lord has somehow been a fraud.
I have been serving the Lord for more than 40 years. But in spite of all my understanding, knowledge and leadership experience, I have many times felt discouraged. Sometimes I have even privately wished to resign and do something less strenuous.
The truth is that even great spiritual giants like Moses, Elijah and the Apostle Paul often came to a place of despair and doubted if they could make it any further.
What are some of the reasons we face discouragement?
We forget the reality of what we are dealing with. By living for Christ, we go against the current, and the Enemy is not happy with us. Forgetting this reality can become the reason for failure, discouragement and giving up.
We face the largeness of the task God assigned to us. As our responsibility in building God’s kingdom increases, our burdens increase and so does the spiritual warfare. All these things are real and as long as we are on this earth, they don’t end.
The more we know God, the less spiritual we feel. We get discouraged because we never seem to measure up to the spiritual light we have received and the things we know. We read books by Andrew Murray, A.W. Tozer and Watchman Nee, and within one hour, we are given information that took 40 years for these men to learn. Then, we look at ourselves and we don’t measure up; we look at others and they don’t measure up either, even those we regard as leaders. We forget that all of us are on a journey and that each one is learning and growing toward godliness at a different pace and level. However, we will never come to a place this side of heaven where we feel spiritual. Paul didn’t. Even after 20 years of preaching, he said, “I am the chief of sinners” (see 1 Timothy 1:15).
How, then, can we overcome discouragement and keep on going?
Just like the gas tank in our car, we need to keep filling our hearts with God’s Word in order to stay encouraged and move forward in whatever calling He has given us.
We need constant reminders of the truth we are called to live by. And the Bible faithfully repeats, over and over, what we should do. As a matter of fact, if we were to put the whole Bible through a computer program and edit all the repeated subjects and teachings out, we may end up with perhaps 50 pages. Why did God give us so much repetition? Because He knows we so easily forget and we need to read the same thing again and again as we travel on our journey.
If God went to such an extent to repeat so many times the truth we need for our encouragement and survival, let us be thankful and diligent to fill our hearts daily with His Word.