When discouragement takes up residence in our souls, we are often overwhelmed with sadness or anger at someone or something.
We ask "how did this happen" and rationalize that if God does exist, he obviously does not care about us because if he did, this would not be happening.
In the book of Isaiah 49:2, we read about a man who identifies four things he understands about himself and God.
First, he says that God made his mouth like a sharp sword. The words that came from his mouth and into the ears of listeners were sharp, cutting, straight and true. This man understood the market value of words and used them wisely. God shaped him to speak well.
He also knew he was never without God's presence. Imagine the confidence in his life knowing, without a doubt, that God made him for a purpose and that he was never without him. This man wasn't hoping to know God some way somehow, but rather, he was confident that he did.
The third trait this man had was being a polished arrow. An arrow is a deadly weapon of strength and precision. A polished arrow is ready for action, ready to soar through the air living out the purpose it was made for. This man then uses a phrase that should haunt us: "in his quiver, he hid me away."
What? He dismissed me, put me in the bottom of the quiver perhaps to be forgotten. My life has been for nothing?
The quiver is for storing. Instead of flying, he was resting. Instead of blazing new trails, he was watching others succeed at being adventurous risk takers. How discouraging it is to be ready to act, ready to contribute ready to make a difference in your community only to be put on the shelf.
Life often seems stalled. That does not mean that it has been abandoned by God. Times of stalling are times of refining. Without consciously guarding our souls, those days can easily drift into days of discouragement.
Discourage means to be deprived or to take away courage. To encourage someone is more than warm feelings. It is inspiring them to be courageous. Courage looks into the mouth of the metaphorical lion and does not flinch. Courage rooted in God, who is always faithful, is never stalled.
Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at www.robhurtgen.wordpress.com.