Summary: How does discouragement affect our lives and our walk with Jesus Christ? When we are discouraged, we are to seek God’s Will and read His Word, even more than ever.
Prior to His arrest, Jesus traveled up and down the strip of land once ruled by David and Solomon, inviting the people of Israel to become a part of His kingdom, promising abundant life. His followers fully expected that He would become their king and that Israel would again be prosperous and free. He was their Messiah. But on one fateful Friday afternoon, as the sun fell behind the horizon, the Son of God hung lifeless on a Roman cross just outside the city walls.
As the sun rose on Sunday morning and the Passover feast came to an end, two of Jesus’ followers, disillusioned and resolving to leave their foolish dreams in Jerusalem, left for home. The dejected pair began the seven-mile walk to Emmaus even as rumors of resurrection circulated among the ranks of Jesus’ disciples. Luke describes the disciples’ conversation as bantering ideas back and forth with great emotion in a shared search for answers. In the Greek, the phrase “talking and discussing” would be more literally translated as “conversing” and “disputing.” The disillusioned followers desperately wanted to know why their expectations of the Messiah had come to such a tragic end. Luke employed a clever narrative device called literary irony, in which the reader is aware of important facts that are hidden from the characters.
How’s your faith doing today? Some of you might think that’s an inappropriate question to be asking of those who are gathered together in a sanctuary on a Sunday morning to worship God. But the fact is, even those who come every week, sometimes more than that, can have moments of weakness in their faith.
There are times when we are so affected by things of this world; illness, relationships gone wrong, unemployment or underemployment, war, famine, death, that we begin to wonder if God really meant it when He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Some of us know those words were written in the book of Hebrews, but they actually had their origin in the Old Testament.
In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 31 verse 6, Moses was addressing the people of Israel. They were nearing the end of their wandering in the desert and Moses was nearing the end of his life. He knew that there would still be struggles and battles ahead for the people whom he had led to the brink of the Promised Land, and he spoke these words; “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Joshua was God’s next chosen leader. He was to lead the people of Israel into the land promised to their father Abraham. In the first chapter of the account of Joshua’s leadership of this chosen people, God said: “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 1:5
In the book of 1 Kings, chapter 6 verse 13 King Solomon in building the first beautiful temple in Jerusalem, God assured him that “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will not forsake you.”
In the prophet Isaiah’s inspired words, chapter 42 verse 16 he writes; “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake you.”
And verses we have discussed many times, but certainly worth repeating again are found in chapter 43 of Isaiah, verses 1-3 where God says; “Now says the Lord who created and formed you, fear not for I have redeemed you (paid the total price for you); I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned nor will the flame scorch you; for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One, your Savior.”
God has made this promise to those who have faith in Him. So why do we doubt, why do we get discouraged? Why do we feel hopeless at times?
Discouragement makes us walk away from our friends and families. We feel alone, we feel that there is no one who can help us, no one walking in our shoes. Our situation is unique, no one could possibly understand, so we retreat. Have you ever been there?
Discouragement also makes us question God. I believe there is a direct correlation between feeling discouraged and reading God’s Word. The more we are discouraged the more we should pour over God’s Word. It is filled with stories and great examples of faith and hope. When we are discouraged, unfortunately we do the opposite. If we doubt God, than why should we trust His Word? When we are discouraged, we feel the absence of courage in our lives. Courage gives us the ability to step out, try new things, look at every day with optimism, to find joy in what we are doing or what we are seeking. I believe the remedy for discouragement is encouragement, but when we are discouraged, we isolate ourselves so no one can reach us. Or we seek out others who may be discouraged as well, and I believe Cleopas and his friend were doing exactly that, and where was God? Right there beside them, walking with them, ultimately encouraging them, filling them with hope, allowing them to cross over that bridge from discouragement to total faith in God.