Rising Above Discouragement
Category : General
Isa.49: 4 (KJV)
4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.
These words bring before us a feeling that belongs to the human heart in all places and times–the complaint of man for frustrated aims. It is not easy to say in what distinct form it is present to the mind of the original speaker here. Sometimes he appears to express the feeling as his own personal experience–a man among his fellow-men–and sometimes he seems to personify the nation to which he belongs. Probably both are struggling together in his heart. The people of Israel were selected by God for a great purpose–to hold up His name and knowledge pure and unsullied in the midst of the world’s defections. But the purpose is, for the while, an apparent failure. The world has corrupted those who should have purified it, and God’s judgment has fallen on their unfaithfulness till they are scattered among the heathen and ready to perish. It seems as if Israel’s history were labor in vain. For himself, the prophet thought that he had been chosen to bring back his people to the way of truth and righteousness. But the people have erred, the prophet has failed, and he speaks both for himself and for the best part of the nation, the true Israel of the Covenant.
As noted, these prophetic sayings go to Christ, not outside of and separate from man’s struggle, but in and through it. As all true Christians are living over again, in an imperfect way, the details of Christ’s own experience, so were all true godly men, before His coming, feeling their way into it, being guided by Christ’s spirit, and having the throb of His life, which is the life of God, already palpitating in their bosoms. When we think and look at the Cross of Christ, it is the true guide to the nature and value of real success. Also, what a failure was the life of Christ, if we measure it by immediate results! No wonder that the Cross was to the Jews a sore stumbling-block, and to the cultivated Greeks utter foolishness, just as it would now appear to most of us. For even we, the heirs of eighteen centuries of faith in the Crucified One, seem hardly yet to have learned the lesson that the suffering, self-sacrifice, devotion to principles, and heedlessness of immediate consequences, are the indispensable foundations of all permanent success.
This is just the language which we find at times forcing its way from the lips of most of those great men who have felt most conscious of having a mission from God. Those who have most deeply and radically influenced for good the minds of their generation have been usually distinguished by fits of profound melancholy; regret that they have ever entered on their heroic course; weariness at the opposition which they meet with; distrust of their own fitness for the task; doubts whether God has really commissioned them to act on His behalf. Why is this? It is because God’s results are for the most part secret. When we have done in love all that you have asked us but it seem as though we have failed, let our hearts remain steadfast knowing our God sees and know; and that He is still sovereign.
Have a great and godly day!