Everyone faces times of discouragement. Even the most positive person on the face of the earth faces discouraging times. Remember Jesus warned us about such?
John 16:33 (ESV) — 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Well let’s look at a real-life example and how God provides an antidote to discouragement.
Revelation 1:9–11 (ESV) — 9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
Let’s think about John for a moment. John had ministered to the seven churches described above and for his faithfulness he was banished to what would be worse than a concentration camp on the Island of Patmos. Would you be discouraged if you were in his shoes? I reckon so! So what does John do? He worships, he remembers the Lord’s Day, and he is open to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and the word of God.
OK – discouragement comes to all of us but what are you going to do? Remember Job? After losing it all…
Job 1:20–21 (ESV) — 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
John takes it even a step further as he says in Revelation 1:10 that he was “in the Spirit.” What does the Holy Spirit do in our lives?
He brings us assurance, helps us pray, leads us to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, brings us assurance, enables us to serve, and the list could go on. Without the working of the Holy Spirit we can’t produce anything, but by His power we can glorify God.
Romans 8:8–11 (ESV) — 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Romans 8:14–17 (ESV) — 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
John 14:26 (ESV) — 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John did not sit around and have a pity party. He followed the leading of the Spirit and was worshipping God. But there’s more. He was conscious of the fact that it was Sunday, the Lord’s Day, so he was focused by the very remembrance that it was a day set aside to God and the remembrance of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That in itself, setting aside a day for the Lord, is honoring to Him and the day being Sunday, the first day of the week, the day in which Christ was resurrected from the dead, makes it even more special. It is John, demonstrating His faith in believing the Bible to be true and the hope of the resurrection to be part of his life. How about you? How do you honor the Lord’s day? Putting these first two points together – worshipping God in the Spirit and honoring God on the Lord’s day, opens the door for what happened next for John and the wiping out of all discouragement.
Revelation 1:12–18 (ESV) — 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Jesus came to John, comforted him, touched him, and encouraged him. Much could be said about the things which John saw in the vision but suffice it to say John is seeing the importance of recognition that Jesus is in complete control and nothing, not even John’s banishment to Patmos is outside His sovereign power and authority.
May we take this same encouragement from the Lord Jesus Christ and may we take heed to the lesson of the antidote to discouragement by placing ourselves in the place to receive encouragement from God. Namely: by following the leading of the Holy Spirit in worship, honoring the Lord on His day, and being ready to receive the word of God. No wonder we find these words in Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV) — 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.