Yeah, me too. I couldn’t tell you exactly when I got so discouraged or even exactly why. All I knew is that it started out like a dull headache and slowly built to a level I couldn’t ignore. Which led me to ask, “What the heck is wrong with me?”
It’s an honest question. I have a nice home, awesome wife and kids, beautiful grandson, I’m self-employed (and loving it), and I usually have the time to do the things that are most important to me. Who wouldn’t be grateful for that? You might say I’m just pouting or spoiled; maybe I have been and maybe I still am, but not this time. How do I know?
Cause I’m not just discouraged about me. I’m discouraged by the needs of so many around me. You see, I want to do more to help others; I am literally driven to do more to help others. But my seeming lack of real results discourages me. It’s like my efforts fall into some cosmic black hole or something; nothing much seems to help anyone.
To make a long story shorter, last night I was talking with the guys I hang out with and they really helped me understand myself. First, I finally figured out that what’s really bugging me is how I’ve screwed up over the years sooooo many times – and how that seems to have limited my ability to help others now. I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of people close to me needing help, maybe more now than ever? There is so much hate, anger, fear, apathy, sickness, injury, financial ruin, even terror in this day and age. And what I realized is that I been full of remorse for the absolute (seriously) stupid things I’ve done at times and how my selfishness “back then” keeps me from being more helpful now. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the grace of God that saved me from myself, but where is that grace and help for others? I have to honestly ask myself, “How can I help God manifest love, acceptance, and grace to others when I may be the very person who caused them to doubt his very existence?”
That’s where my guys came in. They reminded me last night that I’m not the only one that God can use; He’s not weak just because I was and am. In fact, many times his power is revealed only when we get outta His way! To quote a verse that helps us understand, “… we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28). What that verse doesn’t say is that ALL things are good (admit it, some things in life suck). What it does say is that God works good – out of the bad – for those who love him.
We ended up by realizing that we all need to be intentional about doing our best for others, but to trust God to work it out for good when we screw up. Two of my favorite verses in the entire Bible summed it up for me: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray…” (James 1:5, MSG) and finally, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7, NIV)
There’s nothing discouraging about that!