Summary: If we want to overcome discouragement and despair, then we must believe the good news, believe God’s Word, and be with God’s people on a regular basis.
An optimist and a pessimist were at the coffee shop where the optimist commented, “Isn’t this a wonderful, bright, sunny day?”
The pessimist replied, “Yea, but if it doesn’t stop soon, all the grass, flowers and crops will dry up.
Two days later, it’s raining and the optimist says, “Isn’t this rain wonderful?”
“Well,” says the pessimist, “If it doesn’t stop soon, everything will wash away.”
The next day, the optimist and the pessimist go duck hunting together with the optimist eager to show off his new hunting dog. The pessimist takes one look and the dog and mutters, “Looks like a mutt to me.”
Just then, a flock of ducks flies over. The optimist shoots and a duck falls right into the middle of a lake. He snaps his fingers and his new hunting dog takes off. The dog gets to the lake and without hesitating runs on top of the water, picks up the duck and returns it to his master. The optimist turns to his pessimist friend and says, “What do you think of my dog now?”
The pessimist simply replies, “Dumb dog, he can’t even swim.” (source unknown)
Do you know anybody like that? You can walk on water, and he or she will still find something to complain about. It’s like they’re under a constant cloud, and nothing you do or say will cheer them up.
Jacob, one of the Patriarchs of Israel, was like that for 22 years. Ever since his sons brought him the torn and bloodied coat of Joseph, his favorite son, he was inconsolable. Genesis 37 says, “He refused to be comforted” (Genesis 37:35). Twenty-two years later, he is complaining to his other sons, “Why did you bring this trouble on me” (Genesis 43:6). And when he fears losing another son, he says, “If I am bereaved, I am bereaved” (Genesis 43:14). Jacob, who had once wrestled with God, is just a shell of a man, wasting away under 22 years of doom and gloom.
Then Jacob finds joy again. His broken heart is healed and he once again becomes known as “one who wrestles with God.”
How did it happen for him? And how can it happen for us who sometimes find ourselves in that place of discouragement and despair?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 45, Genesis 45, where we see how Jacob’s depressed spirit was revived after 22 years of misery. We pick up the story in Egypt where Joseph has just revealed himself to his brothers.
Genesis 45:16-24 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’ “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’ ” So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!” (NIV)
Joseph knew his brothers all too well.
Genesis 45:25-26 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. (NIV)
Literally, Jacob’s heart grew numb. He was in shock!
Genesis 45:27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. (NIV)
Literally, the breath of their father lived! For 22 years, Jacob had been a walking zombie, moping around with no reason to live, refusing to be comforted. Now, he is alive again. His breath has returned, and I can almost seeing him kicking up his heels and dancing a jig.
Genesis 45:28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.” (NIV)