Ever feel like you just can't win? Like you're not making any progress? Ever feel like giving up? Ever feel like you're losing heart? Me too. Why do we get to this state of mind? What can be done about it? I've been asking myself these questions lately, and turned to the Bible for answers. Here's what I'm learning.
We lose heart when:
1. We are tired of waiting
In our culture and context, we don't like to wait for anything. From food that isn't fast enough, to Mr. or Mrs. "Right" not walking into our lives. We don't wait well. So we certainly can't be expected to wait for something that may not happen in our life time (... and no I'm not talking about the Cubs winning the World Series). We lose heart when waiting because we are looking for satisfaction. We lose heart while waiting because we are trying to find satisfaction where it can't be found. Ultimate, true, and lasting satisfaction can only be found in God through Christ.
Luke 18:1 - 8 reminds us not to be impatient but persistent. But persistent in what? PRAYER.
2. We fear rejection
We lose heart when we think that others can't handle the truth. We would rather lie, water down, or otherwise manipulate the truth in order to be loved and accepted. This could be any kind of truth; about ourselves, about God, about the reality of sin. We lose heart to the fear of rejection when we value man's acceptance more than God's. Through Christ's sacrifice we are justified and made children of God. When we give into the fear of rejection we are giving man more power over us than they deserve.
3. We see more fallenness than restoration
We live in a sin-stained world. We don't have to look very far to see it. Sometimes God's work of restoration is much harder to see. This restoration sometimes seems to rarely come in large quantities or dramatic ways. We lose heart to the fallenness around us because our focus is wrong. We lose heart because we forget how big and powerful God's grace is. The fallenness around us should push us further in God's mission of making disciples, not cause us to lose heart.
The Bible addresses both cases. 2 Corinthians 4:1 reminds us that, in spite of gospel rejection there is still kingdom work to be done. How do we continue despite what's going on around us? We PERSEVERE.
4. We are weak, tired, and lazy
It's hard work fighting against the sin in our own heart, let alone the injustice we see in the world around us. So what do we do? We either fight with our own strength, or give up altogether. When we fight this battle with our own strength, we quickly find out how weak we are. We don't have what it takes. When we give up, we're just being lazy. We lose heart to weakness, tiredness, and laziness when we don't rely on the Holy Spirit for strength to accomplish what God has called us to do. We lose heart in this way because we overestimate our strength and undervalue the Spirit's influence.
2 Corinthians 4:16 reminds us that we are in a battle for souls; ours and other's. We aren't properly equipped to win this fight, we need His strength. How do we get it? We rest and wait (things we don't like to do because of pride) on His POWER.
5. External forces determining internal responses.
How many times has this happened to you? Something happens, seemingly random, and you fly off the handle? You at least lose your cool, if not your temper. It happens to me all the time. It happens because we are most often more focused on our well-being than sharing God's grace. We lose heart to external forces when we aren't focused on Christ and His gospel. We lose heart when we lose sight of the self-sacrificing attitude of Christ.
Ephesians 3:13 reminds us that when we do this we are missing what God is doing. He is opening up an opportunity for us to show gospel love to a world that desperately needs it. Why would He challenge our patience this way? For his GLORY.
Prayer. Perseverance. We don't spend enough time actively pursuing these. God's Power. His Glory. We are most often more concerned about our power and glory. Maybe that's why we aren't experiencing growth and maturity.
Bottom line = We lose heart when we take our eyes off Jesus. While focused on Him, it's impossible to lose heart.