Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dispelling Discouragement

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

You’re going along minding your own business when someone says something that bothers you about something you’re doing. Did that sentence make sense? Okay, let me try this: You’re sitting at your favorite coffee house, sipping some joe and flipping through a magazine. You notice an acquaintance and decide to invite them to join you. During your conversation you share that you’ve made a celibacy covenant.

The response to your revelation is less than supportive and encouraging. In fact, the person negatively commented on everything from the use of the word covenant to their view of how unlikely you would be to succeed at it. So, how does that make you feel? And how will it affect your commitment to your covenant?

Some diehards may say that it shouldn’t affect you in any way, but as emotional beings it’s hard to determine how things will affect one person or another. What’s important is – ultimately – how you deal with the discouragement and move past it.

It’s very seldom that you will hear (or see) me give any credit to the devil, but God teaches us that He allows the devil to do certain things. Therefore sometimes we must identify why something has occurred before we can move past it. Let’s consider our current example of the coffee shop friend: If you were to allow that experience and discouragement to prevent you from sharing your covenant and testimony with someone else then you could possibly hinder how God wants to spread the word of celibacy until marriage. Or you may miss the opportunity to encourage someone in their own lifestyle. These are just two things, which if you didn’t do them, would make the devil happy.

Say, for instance, the discouragement was a test and God wanted to see how you would handle yourself. What if the discouragement caused you to “slip up” and have intercourse with someone. That could delay you meeting your spouse (if getting married is your desire). Our circumstances can delay or hinder events from occurring in our lives.

Often how we handle a current situation determines whether we are given much more to handle. (The same is true in other situations: For instance, if you aren’t a good steward over the money and material possessions you currently have, it is highly unlikely that you will be blessed with more.)

So, what should you do? The answer to that leads me back to Galatians 6:9, which I quoted at the top of this post. Keep in mind that you have a goal for making the covenant. Your goal is to please God and abide by His word and in doing so you will reap the harvest God has for you.

To assist you in remembering your goal, keep your written covenant (check earlier posts for more about the written covenant) in a location where you can see it on a regular, preferably daily, basis. Secondly, after remembering your goal, keep your purpose in mind and think about why something may happen to thwart that purpose. When you are operating in the will of God (and in this case it’s abiding by His word) circumstances will occur to discourage you and prevent you from continuing on the correct path.

Keep these things in mind to dissipate any discouragement concerning your covenant with God to remain celibate until marriage. Also remember: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV)

"People usually fail when they are on the verge of success. So give as much care to the end as to the beginning." Lao-Tzu

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