As promised, here is the first of my two "encouragements" I found in my Texas basement this week. Both are "Meditations" written by Everson T. Sieunarine who I believe is a vicar in the church of England but I'm not 100% sure.
"A legend has the devil putting up his tools for sale, each with an appropriate sale price. Some of the tools were hatred, dishonesty and jealousy. But isolated from them was one well-worn tool marked at an extremely high price.
The name of the tool was discouragement. When asked why it was priced so high, the devil replied, "Because it is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open a man's heart with that when other tools don't work. Once inside him do whatever I choose. It is badly worn because I use it on everyone, and the price is so high that it cannot be bought from me."
Discouragement afflicts the best and brightest among us. Spiritual growth can be stifled through a discouraging word. Many important projects came to a halt and many talents are wasted because of the devil's favorite toll - discouragement.
There are many incidents in the Bible where God's servants fell into this abyss of discouragement, especially after they achieved some victories over evil. For example, the prophet Elijah boldly denounced idolatry in the kingdom.
When the queen turned her fury on him, he fled to the wilderness and prayed that he might die. Even Moses, when he led his people out of Egyptian slavery and brought them to the wilderness became discouraged when the people began complaining of their deprivations.
Maybe you once began a good work and are now discouraged. You feel trapped in a cage of deceit and pride others have fashioned. You can re-assess your position and you can find new strength and enthusiasm.
The humiliation and discouragement you now experience may not be a reflection of your character at all. This can be a time to test your character so that your faith can be strengthened for greater trials.
In the book of Acts, which describes the beginning of the early Christian church, the apostles re-named on of their helpers, Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement." Just think how much parents and teachers can encourage or discourage by their words of approbation or condemnation. All of us have beautiful memories of some person who gave us a second chance, went with us an extra mile, tolerated a temper outburst, forgave us for something said or done unwittingly.
This kindness encouraged us and made us see a new greatness in them and new possibilities in ourselves. This is (one of) the ministry Jesus extended to the sinful and hopeless of His day.
Sir John Reith, the first director of the BBC used to say, "I do not like crises, but I do like the opportunities they provide." Do you have a word of encouragement in a crisis?"
What I found in this, re-reading it yesterday, was a bit of conviction as well. Doom and gloom are all that are on the newscasts these days. Watching the Dow Jones is like watching the final drop on "Splash Mountain" at Disney World it seems. It would appear at every turn we are bombarded with negativity - recession, joblessness, higher taxes, debt, foreclosure, greed, warnings of DOOM. It consumes talk at work, Starbucks, with friends, on blogs even. How much am I allowing myself to "buy into" this pessimism, while very real challenges in our nation and our personal finances, a cloud of self-imposed depression based on worldly, out of my control, situations does seem to be whirling aroundme? And how much am I reflecting off this negativity to others?
I admit that it IS easy to become discouraged. It has almost become "patriotic" to be a harbinger of doom and wear our "sackcloth and ashes" just to fit in with the mood of society. Never in MY lifetime has being a light been more important. "Bad times" can bring out the best and worst in us and the struggle is to let the best win over the worst. For those of faith, this is just a blip on the radar. Our generation has been incredibly blessed materially - and I have to ask myself if I've become reliant on these "things" rather than the One who made all things and blessed us with them?
Am I going to be Job's wife...or a Job? I do have a choice. Will I abdicate to the winds of discouragement? Or will I make a conscious choice to encourage and BE encouraged? As in the words of the commonly called "Serenity Prayer", God grant me the serenity to change what I can, accept what I can't and wisdom to know the difference.