“So my dear brothers, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58
As a recently retired man was sitting on his porch down in Kentucky, his Social Security check was delivered. He went to the mailbox to retrieve it and thought to himself, Is this all my life is going to be from this time on? Just sitting on the porch waiting for my next Social Security check to arrive? It was a discouraging thought.
So he took a legal pad and began to write down all the gifts, all the blessings, all the talents, and everything that he had going for him. He listed them all, even small things. For example, he included the fact that he was the only one in the world who knew his mother’s recipe for fried chicken in which she used eleven different herbs and spices.
He went down to the local restaurant, asked if he could get a job cooking their chicken. Very soon the chicken became the most popular item on the menu. He opened his own restaurant in Kentucky. Then he opened a string of restaurants and eventually sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise to a national organization for millions of dollars. Harlan Sanders then became their public representative and continued in that role until his death.
The easiest path in our lives is to settle in our situation and give in to discouragement. Discouragement is such a common obstacle that many see no way around it. It is the uncommon man that says, “No!” when discouragement comes.
Paul experienced a wide range of discouraging circumstances in his life. He told the Corinthian church, “…yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to this present moment” (1 Corinthians 4:13). He went on to share, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but never driven to despair. We are hunted down but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are never destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
If there was anyone who had an excuse for discouragement it would have been Paul. He could easily have quit, but he didn’t. What was the secret to his persistence? How could he keep going in light of the problems he constantly faced?
Paul weighed his suffering against the value of his service. He told the Corinthians, “…nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” He had come to see the eternal value of serving Christ. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
Are you facing discouragement today? Is it your passion to serve Christ? If your answer to these two questions is “yes,” I have good news for you. Your service is of eternal value; your problems are but momentary flashes.
Wait for Him. He will come through! On the other side of the obstacle is the opportunity! Let your gaze be upon Christ and your glance be on your circumstances. As your vision of Christ becomes clearer, your problems will become smaller! He will never disappoint; the obstacles will always dissipate!