[Column] Do not Be Discouraged No Matter What

For the people with Godly visions and dreams, the worst enemy is discouragement.  It is Satan’s most powerful weapon. Discouragement is a state in which a person has completely lost courage, hope, joy, and confidence due to despondency. In life, we experience various discouragements. That is when we MUST overcome them. While studying in the U.K., I have undergone linguistic, financial, and academic difficulties especially in the progress of dissertation. Once, I had to revise the first chapter of my dissertation ten times. Nevertheless, I was not discouraged knowing that God is my wisdom and strength: “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!”(Proverbs 24:10). I trusted in God’s strength and power instead of my meager knowledge and wisdom. In the end, my final dissertation was approved by the thesis committee with a proposed revision of only one word.

There was a well-known sculptor named Capoccia, who was respected and honored by many. One day, he visited a quarry to extract marbles for his sculptures. Then, tragedy befell him. As he and the local laborers were carrying the marbles, one of the huge pieces fell on his right hand leaving his hand incapacitated. His life as a sculptor was now over. After months of isolation in despair, he decided no longer to be discouraged and rigorously trained himself to use his left hand and arm. He painstakingly strove towards rehabilitation and eventually attained left-hand dexterity to once again create beautiful sculptures. People of his town brought out one of his works and named it “Despite.”

The best known baseball player in the U.S. is perhaps Babe Ruth. Having hit 714 home runs, he held the all-time records until 1976. Babe Ruth’s called shot, the home run he hit in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, is often portrayed in films even to this day. While many are aware of his home run records, few even know that he holds the record for most strikeouts. Ruth was struck out 1330 times. Experts agree that this record is as difficult to beat as his homerun record. He needed 1,330 strikeouts in order to hit 714 homeruns. In essence, it was 1,330 strikeouts that made him the greatest baseball player in the world. He who fears mistakes and failures cannot maximize his strengths or achieve triumph. There is a Greek proverb “You know who the good seamen are when the storm comes.” Without trials and hardship, there cannot be success.

Many of you are familiar with Alexander Fleming, a Scottish biologist and Nobel laureate who is credited with the discovery of penicillin. While researching the bacteria that caused boils among children, he left one of the Petri dishes open by mistake. When he examined the dish the next day, he noticed the cellular colonies around the blue green fungus were destroyed. Without being discouraged, he continued his research and discovered penicillin, which won him the Nobel Prize. Fleming’s persistence in spite of his crucial mistake served as the foundation for his success.

Hebrews 12:3 cites the cause of discouragement as anxiety: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” If you are weary physically and emotionally, you will be discouraged. Also, difficulty in interpersonal relationship can cause discouragement. To resolve discouragement, we must remember and meditate upon Christ who “endured such opposition from sinners.” As we look to Christ, we are comforted and we grow patient in dealing with others. The best way to look to Christ is prayer. Jesus says we must pray in order to not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Let us concentrate on prayer so that we may not be discouraged by discouragement.

There is a hymn entitled His Grace is Enough. The following is the first verse: “Just when I am disheartened, Just when with cares oppressed, Just when my way is darkest, Just when I am distressed, Then is my Savior near me, He knows my every care; Jesus will never leave me, He helps my burdens bear.”

How true this is. God’s grace is already sufficient in our lives. There is no reason for us to be despondent or discouraged. As Richard Nixon said, “Defeat doesn’t finish a man, quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.” There is an even more inspiring quote from John Newton: “Let us not be greatly discouraged at the many tribulations, difficulties, and disappointments which lie in the path that leads to glory–seeing that our Lord has foretold us of them, has made a suitable provision for every case we can meet with, and is Himself always near to those who call upon Him in His almighty strength–as a sure refuge, and a never-failing, ever-present help in every time of trouble!” Let us not be discouraged no matter what knowing that God is always near to us to strengthen and deliver us.

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