Some Christians seem to be discouraged all the time. Here are two perspectives of people who are chronically discouraged.
Expect victory without difficulty.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the ﬁery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s suffering, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-13).
The apostle Peter is trying to comfort believers in the early church by saying, Are you going through trouble? Well, join the club. Do not be overwhelmed by the ﬁery trial that is happening to you. This is something common, and you will win—but there will be a ﬁght.
Research says the best marriages are those with high expectation combined with a realistic attitude of what it will take to succeed. I like to call these people “tough- minded dreamers.”
You may ask, “So what is the number one reason for divorce then?” The answer is disappointment. The highest divorce rate is among young people 20 to 25 years old. They get married with incredibly unrealistic expectations, expecting the “happily ever after” fantasy to come true.
That is what happened to Karen and me. When we got married, we were 19 years old, and we knew nothing. I just expected that I would have her “trained” in a few days. She was not training well while we were dating, so I thought the answer was full-time training. I told myself, “If I could just have her all day, every day, I think I could get her trained, and things would be good.” Over 40 years later, let me tell you something: my wife has trained me really well. Early in our marriage, though, I got my heart broken because I had such unrealistic expectations about our relationship.
The devil will ﬁght you for your dream marriage and every other dream you have. Marriage will be a battle, and you will have to ﬁght for your promised land, just like the people of Israel did. When Moses sent twelve spies to scout out the land God had promised to the people of Israel as their inheritance, the men came back with good news and bad news. The good news was that the land was everything God had promised—fertile and full of good food. However, the bad news was that there were giants in the land. The people of Israel were so discouraged by the giants that they refused to claim their inheritance.
Today, the devil still uses giants to try to discourage God’s people. Satan will put giants in your marriage, family, ﬁnances, and every other area of your life in which God wants to bless you. If you are going to enter your promised land, you are going to have to ﬁght.
When you are going to hell, Satan will pretty much leave you alone because he does not want to change anything. But when you turn around and decide that you are going to live for Jesus, you start heading toward your Promised Land. That is when the battle begins.
Satan will put giant after giant in your way. By God’s grace, you will kill every giant, and you will claim your inheritance. But there will be a fight. Trust me. In every good thing that you will ever do in this life, there will be a ﬁght. If there is no ﬁght, then you are headed in the wrong direction. Don’t expect victory without difficulty.
Expect difficulty without victory.
Some people have been beaten down so hard for so long that they have just had the battle beaten out of them. Their expectation is “Life is tough, and then you die,” like the bumper sticker.
However, I have a new bumper sticker for you: Life is tough, and then you win! Life is a battle, but you can and will win. This is Jesus speaking to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19:
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus is talking to Peter, but I think He is also speaking to all of us. If you have ever read stories about Peter in the Bible, you know that this disciple was about as sharp as a biscuit. He certainly had the heart, but it took his brain a while to catch up. I truly believe that the reason God chose him is because if Peter could do it, anybody can do it. It encourages me to know that God used somebody like that. If God could use him. He can use all of us.
Peter made all kinds of mistakes just days after Jesus spoke this promise over him. For example, the disciple cussed out a little girl next to a ﬁre to keep her from knowing that he belonged to Jesus. He was a coward before he was ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and he made a lot of mistakes. But Jesus still told him, “The gates of hell will not prevail against you.” And Jesus says the same thing to you; the gates of hell will not prevail against you.
In Luke 10:19 Jesus tells His followers, “I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
Jesus promises that nothing will harm you if you ﬁght. He gives us authority over all the power of the enemy. If we do not fight, we will be overwhelmed. If we do fight, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
Our victory has already been won by the death and resurrection of Christ, but it is appropriated daily by faith as we use His authority to face our issues. God has given you such authority that even the very gates of hell cannot prevail against you if you stand up and ﬁght.
That was true of Peter. He became one of the great ﬁghters for the faith. He was able to face adversity because he knew there would be victory in Jesus. And the same was true of David. David knew there would be a ﬁght. Rather than believing, “There must be something wrong with me because I am in a battle,” these men realized that the world was battleﬁeld. They had to choose if they were going to ﬁght, and if so, for whom they were going to ﬁght.
If you ﬁnd yourself in the midst of a battle, there is nothing wrong with you; rather, there is something right with you.