I struggle too much with discouragement. It’s me; it’s a personal problem. Oh sure, there’s a lot to be discouraged about in the world, but I take it to the extreme. It is easy for me slide into a pity- party complete with balloons, decorative hats, cake (chocolate of course), and a clown for entertainment. I start thinking about the bad and before you know it, I am about as low as one can go. That’s when I blow things way out of proportion and begin to focus on what is wrong with me, the church, the house, the world…see what I mean?
But, I admit that when times are easy and I am just floating along without a care, I am not up late at night searching for answers in God’s word, or on my knees in tearful prayer to my heavenly Father begging for mercy, help, courage and forgiveness. It is in the “good” times that I am not waiting impatiently on my dear husband to come home so I can fall into his loving, comforting arms and hear his sound advice. I admit that when all is “good,” things get pretty dangerous: I read my Bible less, I contemplate my spirituality and my relationship with God less, my prayers are shallow and fewer and farther between. I just, well, ashamedly, think about the Lord less. Isn’t it ironic that it is when I am at my worst that I feel closest to my Father?
When I am at my deepest despair I always contemplate Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose,” and think: Seriously? Good? It is a great verse, but I suggest if we take this verse out of context, we miss the best part, the “good” that is explained in the verses just above it. Those, for me, are the most powerful and comforting of all. Consider verse 17 and 18: Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
A very dear sister, and the closest of friends, uses the phrase: “it is good,” a lot. When there is a trial or a problem, she’ll think about it, size it up and say: “Well, that is good, right? I don’t see anything bad in it. It is an opportunity to grow, right? So, it is good.” That always seems to settle it. To be able to get to that point, able to assess each trial as “good” or “bad” depending on how it will help us grow spiritually is what we should all strive to grow into. But, to get to that point, one has to be willing to look through all of the “junk” and say- it was a good day, it was a good day because I found myself prostrate on the ground at the Lord’s feet not knowing what to say, but begging for His guidance through. One has to be willing to see it as a “good” day because I called on the Lord when I was hurting and opened my heart and poured out my problems and laid them at His feet. One has to be willing to see the problem is “good” because it caused me to open the Lord’s book and I found myself lost in the comfort and instruction there. One has to be willing to realized I had grown that day ONLY because of that struggle. It was good.
Recently this dear sister asked me about someone we know that was in a personal struggle. I found myself thinking about it deeply and replied: “It’s good, it will help them to grow. They’ll be fine.” And I realized, yeah, it really is GOOD even when it is not easy to see the “good” at the time. We often think that Romans 8:28 means that if we love God, He’ll just give us what we want. I mean, after all, that is the “good” right? But consider a few difficult and discouraging times that were really blessings in disguise:
- Abraham took the less fertile land that appeared to make his life harder to feed his livestock and family, but he saved his family from certain destruction and was blessed by God for his choice.
- Daniel was chosen to serve the King and was persecuted for worshiping God, but showed the King what a man of God could be.
- Esther was taken from her people to wed a King that was not of her people and seemed cruel, but she brought peace and rest to her people and showed her husband the heart of a godly woman.
- Ruth lost her husband, but she found God, and helped to bring Christ to the world.
- Most of the apostles lost their lives in a cruel way, but gained their eternal rest.
Each situation and life was full of struggles, but each and everyone was GOOD. Each struggle brought about good, because they loved the Lord and worked for His purpose. So, before I call the party-planner, take out the cups, plates and make the deviled eggs for my discouragement party, I start to examine the situation and search a bit…it is there…maybe hidden…maybe disguised…but it is there..yep..there it is! The GOOD!
By Tracy Frederick
Tracy is the wife of Greg who serves the Arkansas City church of Christ as an elder. She and Greg have one daughter who is married to a full-time pulpit minister in the Lord’s church, serving the New Madrid, MO community. She manages the page “Sister to Sister“ and the Sister to Sister Facebook page. She teaches Bible class, interprets worship services for the deaf members, assists with Ladies’ Days and speaks at Ladies’ Days. Tracy holds a Ph.D. in communication and is a full-time Professor of Communication at a nearby college.