Thursday, February 27, 2020
Discouragement happens. But what causes it? Our first impulse is to blame our circumstances. But our sin nature denies personal responsibility and transfers blame (check out Adam and Eve after they sinned in the Garden of Eden). If we could conquer that nature, we would see that our circumstances have no real power in and of themselves, and should have no power over us. They do not dictate or control our emotional responses – we do. We are responsible for our responses. We made the choice to be discouraged.
One choice that we make that leads to discouragement is to continually focus on our past, especially the failures. D. L. Moody once said, “Some people go back into the past and rake up all the troubles they ever had, and then they look into the future and anticipate that they will have still more trouble, and then they go reeling and staggering all through life.”
It has been said that the past is valuable as a guidepost, but dangerous if used as a hitching post. When God’s vision for the future is darkened by our memories of the past, our minds and our hearts become similarly dark. If we are to once again see the light of God’s grace and glory, we must recognize the truth that “the past cannot be changed, but our response to it can be.”(Erwin Lutzer)
Isaiah 65:16b “For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.”
There are several choices we have when it comes to the past:
- We can dwell on it and hope to change it by the power of our imagination, leading ultimately to discouragement, despondency, and death.
- We can hold it in our memory ready to be used at a moment’s notice to manipulate, suppress, or attack another person.
- OR, we can learn from its mistakes, accept God’s forgiveness for it and look to the future as if it never happened.
In Isaiah 65:13-16, the LORD offers forgiveness of the past and change for the future. Here’s the hope He offers each of us.
- My servants will eat
- My servants will drink
- My servants will rejoice
- My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts
- To His servants He will give another name.
Contrast that with what happens if we stay focused on the past:
- You will go hungry
- You will go thirsty
- You will be put to shame
- You will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit
- You will leave your name to my chosen ones as a curse
- The Sovereign LORD will put you to death
The Apostle Paul said it well when He wrote, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
I pray that today you will allow the Holy Spirit to have access to your heart. As the writer Oswald Chambers said, “If you. . . begin to find that the Holy Spirit is scrutinizing you, let his searchlight go straight down, and he will not only search you, he will put everything right that is wrong; he will make the past as though it had never been.”