Summary: If you want to overcome discouragement in your own life, then 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 fly 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)
There are some people who are never happy. You can walk on water, and they 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, lived 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 treat me so badly” (Genesis 43:6). And when he fears losing another son, he says, “If I am bereaved of my children, 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 you, when you find yourself 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 report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, “Joseph’s brothers have come,” it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go back to the land of Canaan, and take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you shall eat the fat of the land.’ And you, Joseph, are commanded to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Have no concern for your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’ ” The sons of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. To each and all of them he gave a change of clothes, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five changes of clothes. To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey. Then he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the way.” (ESV)
Joseph knew his brothers all too well.
Genesis 45:25-26 So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. (ESV)
He was in shock!
Genesis 45:27 But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. (ESV)
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.