Rising Above Discouragement

Standing across the operating table from the neurosurgeon, I begin to focus more intently as the case has suddenly become more technically challenging.  It is in these moments that the chatter and small talk stops, and we are all on point, prepared to assist him in any way to control the situation.  Our entire day has been this way, each case presenting a new challenge, making for a very exhausting and stressful day.  My mind stays focused on him and what is going on under that microscope.  My goal? Assist him, in any way I can, to make this less stressful and hopefully improve the outcome.  Finally, the end of the case has come and all is well.  The mood lightens and we all start to relax.  He backs away from the table, leaving me to close, and proceeds to tell the person standing next to me how great of a job she has done and that he couldn’t do it without her.  Wait, what???  What about me?  What about the rest of the team who has been with you all day and working just as hard in our own ways?  In that moment, I felt so small and defeated.  Discouraged.

Discouragement is a part of life.  It comes most often when we do right things but experience poor results.  Jeremiah 20 reminds us that even a faithful servant of God can become discouraged.  But he rose above his discouragement and fulfilled God’s will.  So many times in our lives, we are faced with this very thing and often let it tear us down.  I stewed over my own self pity all night and into the next morning about something that was trivial.  I went to the Lord in prayer, telling Him that I needed Him.   I needed his strength to rise above the pain that accompanied my discouragement.  Like Jeremiah 20: 7-8, I cried out to the Lord that no matter how hard I worked, I was overlooked.  God desires this brutal honesty from us.  Tell Him how you feel!  He wants us to be real with Him, even when we are angry, upset, and frustrated.  He wants us to tell the truth.  Too often, we are dishonest in our relationships when it comes to true feelings, even to our Lord.  Honesty with our Lord is liberating!  He reminded me that my role at work is important.  I talked it over with a co-worker the next morning and she reminded me that I am important.  I matter.  The comment was more directed to the person who had gone above and beyond to stay and make sure things went smoothly.  It was never intended in a negative way to me, but as an encouraging moment for that person.

Despite the circumstances of our day, we are called to be obedient.  In verse 9, we see that Jeremiah is called to be obedient, to continue doing what he had been called to do.  He could not ignore what God was telling him, no matter how hard he tried.  When we are called, we cannot ignore that call.  I wanted nothing more than to walk out of the hospital that day and never return.  I knew that God desired me to return, to continue serving Him, serving others.  So, I cried out to Christ, put on the armor of my Lord, and obeyed.

When you are called, OBEY!  Obedience is difficult and sometimes painful, yet disobedience would be more so.

God Bless you all and don’t give up!

Ref: Sermon by Chuck Gililland (July 24, 2016); Jeremiah 20.