Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail. Hard to believe but here was a good man who never gave up the vision that one day South Africa would be a democracy. And that’s what happened. It took a long time—but one remarkable man never gave up. He didn’t let discouraging circumstances destroy him.
For most people, dealing with personal discouragement is tough. Discouragement can drag you down quickly unless you learn to deal with it in a positive manner. Have you ever had one of those days when the weight of the world feels like it’s trying to drag you down? Have you felt overwhelmed and discouraged by the challenges you face?
We Must Fight Discouragement
Discouragement is like a giant that can take over your life—and, if you let it, destroy you. And I don’t think I am exaggerating. Don’t give into discouragement without a fight. We can’t always choose what we experience but we can choose how we respond.
Discouragement is a disease that is easily caught but it does not have to become an epidemic. It can be resisted! We are living in a success-driven world. Everyone wants to be successful and people seldom want to speak about their failures. It is quite natural that if we do not find success in our ways we get discouraged and disappointed.
But, to be truthful, sometimes life feels a little like a treadmill, don’t you think? If we aren’t careful to consider where we’re going, and why we’re going there, it can just feel like we’re putting one foot in front of the other in this irritating, repetitive motion—make money, pay bills, go to work—just to end up in the exact same place we started. It can seem like we’re struggling just to keep up with this conveyor belt called life.
It can feel like the only reason we keep moving is because, if we stop, we’ll fall flat on our face. No wonder we feel discouraged. The days can drag on, and you may feel like there is nothing that you can do to ease the burden. Certain people can be difficult to deal with. Bad things occur in our lives at unexpected times.
The Story Of A Lost Boy Of Sudan
Between 1983 and 2005, many Christians were killed in the Sudanese Civil War—and a whole community of orphaned children arose who have become known as the Lost Boys of Sudan. You may have heard of them. Lopez Lomong was one of those boys. At six-years-old, he was kidnapped from his parents at gunpoint while attending church. He was to be trained as a soldier, and lived in a prison for three weeks eating a mixture of sorghum and sand.
He escaped with three teenage boys and trekked three days to the Kenyan border. His friends were sent to the Sudanese officials because of their age, but Lopez was taken to Kakuma Refugee Camp where he lived 10 years. and learned to write using his finger and the desert sand, and daily ran the 30 km perimeter of the camp. After writing an essay, he was chosen as one of the 3,500 Lost Boys to come to the US, where he was adopted by Robert and Barbara Rogers from Tully, New York.
A whole new education began. This young man learned how to flush a toilet, to work out the difference between the two knobs in the shower, how to turn off the light so he could sleep in the dark. And yet his desire to become an athlete meant he qualified for the Olympic Track and Field events. In 2008 Summer Olympics he took part in the 1,500 m race. He was the official flag bearer for the US in the opening ceremony. Born in 1985 in absolute poverty and tragedy, he overcame adversity and discouragement.
God Says: Don’t Be Discouraged
There is a wonderful verse from the Bible we need to write down somewhere or memorise for those days when we feel discouraged. It is Deuteronomy 31:8, which says: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” It’s more than words—it’s God’s Word that gets to your heart and mind, and brings peace and assurance.
Corrie ten Boom, who suffered in a Nazi death camp, explained how to overcome discouragement by focusing on God: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest!”