Prayer: God's remedy for discouragement PDF Print E-mail

A Devotional given at the PPL Board Mtg., Oct. 2010

by Mary Van Driest

As I was preparing for PPL’s board meeting, I thought about the importance of “keeping on” and finishing strong. It is vital that we not allow Satan to distract, deceive or discourage us from doing the good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2: 9)

In recent years PPL has faced the discouraging loss of supporting churches and board members who left the denomination or felt the need to resign for various reasons. We had planned and worked to be prepared for last July’s General Assembly, and hoped pro-life overtures would be passed. When GA was over, I found myself becoming very discouraged. At GA, the choice was made to protect abortion rather than include words of hope in the baptism vows stating that God adopts us before we are born. Commissioners exhibited an unwillingness to stand firmly and clearly against forced and coerced abortions, or violence against pregnant women. Commissioners refused to remove abortion coverage from the BOP Health plan, while coverage for same-gender partners was added. The Word of God was pushed aside in order to move an agenda forward.

Discouragement sets in quite easily when we see people allow themselves to be deceived into making un-Biblical decisions, when what we know is in line with God’s Word is discredited, and when commissioners listen to those who say what their itching ears want to hear. And when we are discouraged, we become less effective.

Nehemiah had a desire to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and got permission from the Persian king to leave his job as cupbearer and return to Jerusalem. With his encouragement, the people became interested and excited in the rebuilding project. They worked enthusiastically and began to see the wall take shape again, but then opposition arose from those who wanted things to remain as they were. (Neh. 4:1-6) Discouragement is one of Satan’s favorite tools. Sanballat used ridicule to try to discourage the people, to get them to give up.
Nehemiah got on his knees and prayed against the enemies of the work God had given him and the returned exiles to do. They gave it to God and then they got back to work! Their enemies did not give up, either, continuing to plot against them as they worked. Neh. 4:9:

But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

Good advice for us: Pray and prepare, be diligent, and consistent.

The people complained to Nehemiah that they were tired, their strength was giving out, it was too much for them, they just couldn’t do it anymore, their enemies seemed to be at every turn. So Nehemiah revised his strategy, placing their weapons in good defensive positions and told them:

Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes. And then they all returned to the wall, each to his own work. (4:14)

Each one only had to do their part, not the whole task! If we look at the whole task, we certainly may become discouraged and think that it is impossible! We only need to work on the part of the wall God has assigned to us. The only real cure for fatigue and discouragement is to focus on God’s purposes.

Over and over, Nehemiah prayed and kept on, and the day finally came when the job was finished. The enemies saw that they had been defeated because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. (6:16)

The Law of God was read and Nehemiah told the people to celebrate, that this day is sacred to our Lord, the One who gave the success and that the joy of the Lord is your strength. God gives us His strength and joy when we act in obedience.

At my first GA in Albuquerque, 1991, I could hardly believe that pastors and elders serving as commissioners were unwilling to take a stand against late-term abortion—something so evil and ugly. There was great discouragement after that vote was taken in the plenary meeting. I have never forgotten how deep that discouragement felt, or how the PPL leadership was able to once again move the team forward, to go back out on the street to hand out Daily Deliveries (PPL's daily newspaper at General Assembly), to work in the booth, continuing the witness for life in the ways that were available, resting in the truth that while God calls us to obedience and faithfulness, the outcomes are not in our hands. God strengthened His people and restored their joy in serving him at that GA in Albuquerque.

11% of the book of Nehemiah is made up of his prayers, putting everything including their enemies in God’s hands. Continual prayer and trust in God is the best way for us also to avoid becoming discouraged and to remain effective in upholding life created in the image of God.

 

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