Sometimes, when we get discouraged, the reason is that we have lost sight of the big picture.
There is a story I know about a fish that lost sight of the big picture. A kingfisher swooped down and snatched a tiny fish out of the ocean. It flew over the shoreline, and then suddenly, the bird lost its grip, and the small fish fell into a pond. Half dead, it struggled back to life. Meanwhile, a large fish approached and said, “What are you doing in my kingdom?” The large fish boasted that he was king of that pond, which was, according to him, the only place where fish live.
Hearing this, the little fish replied, “If only you could see where I’m from.” And the little fish tried to explain about the vastness of the ocean, all the different kinds of fish, the ships and the whales. The larger fish looked at him in disbelief. And the little fish said, “Well, how would you know? You’ve never left this tiny pond.”
This story humorously illustrates how, like the king fish, we become so used to “our” tiny corner of the world that we easily forget the big picture. Although we know intellectually that reality is bigger than our own little world, we often get caught up in our personal difficulties and problems. We forget that the world is full of people Jesus loves and that they all have their own struggles, too.
How Did Paul Keep from Getting Discouraged?
Take a look at the life of the apostle Paul. He endured shipwrecks, starvation, loneliness, abandonment and a host of other problems, yet he went forward with one thing on his mind—to serve His Lord and Master.
How did Paul and the other apostles survive without giving up hope? They did not allow themselves to get caught up in their own struggles, and they never lost sight of the big picture. In Romans 8:18 Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Many, many times I have gone through seasons of discouragement as I have served the Lord. For example, in order to record radio broadcasts during a certain season of the ministry, I had to start taping at 3:30 A.M. One morning when the alarm went off, I didn’t want to get up. I began to complain, “Why me? This is not fair. I went to bed late, and now after only two hours of sleep I must get up.”
Then I sat up and spoke out loud. “I am in ministry. Difficulties are to be expected. And what I do today will touch the lives of many people. Lord, you promised that those who wait on you will renew their strength. Lord, I wait on you, and I know my strength will be renewed.”
Ten to 15 minutes went by with me praying and saying God’s Word out loud. By the time I was ready to leave for the studio, I was a brand-new person with excitement, peace and His strength.
What made the difference? It was that I took my eyes off my own struggle and saw the big picture.
I saw in my mind those who might be listening to the broadcasts I was recording: The man who has lost all hope, about to commit suicide. The widow, rejected and alone, who desperately needs to hear, “Jesus loves you.” The woman, beaten and abused, who has never heard that she has value. And I saw their hearts renewed as they realize there is hope for their lives, because Somebody cares for them.
Remember the Big Picture
We must also remember that we deal with the spiritual realm. Maybe an uncanny number of things go wrong, or you feel so weighed down and you don’t know why, or there is constant misunderstanding between you and other brothers and sisters in Christ; in those times, we must remember that there is more going on than what we see around us, so we can respond appropriately. We must interpret our little pond, our little world, in light of the much bigger world.
I will never forget what one of our field leaders said about the place where he was serving the Lord at the time: “Sometimes it’s so unbearably hot. Sometimes it’s so cold that you don’t want to move; but by any means, it is good to serve the Lord.”
This man lives with the reality of the big picture.
In your life you will face days in which you won’t want to pray. Your emotions will be dry. This is the time when you need to stand up by faith and say, “I hang on to God’s Word and will not drown in my own small pond.” Perhaps you will be tempted to stop living sacrificially, so you can have a little more ease. But look at the big picture! The things you do for others, in Christ’s name, will make a difference in their lives—not only for today but for eternity.
Are you discouraged? Do you want to give up? Are you having a difficult time looking beyond your own little world? If so, stick close to Jesus. Look into His eyes and receive His strength. One look at yourself and 10 looks at Jesus will keep you going.
Don’t let the devil keep you intimidated, discouraged and focused only on your own little world. Reality is bigger! Let us rise up and shake off the deception of the enemy. Like Paul, let us never lose sight of the big picture, and let us gladly give our lives for Jesus.