As I was driving today from Nebraska to southwest Kansas and listening to some of the newer worship music out of Bethel Church in Redding, I was thinking about several things.
I had a good friend who was running for US Congress this week and he did not win, and in fact was beaten by a very narrow margin. He worked hard and I know he must be disappointed, perhaps even discouraged. He is a godly man with great integrity and a fine track record in politics and realms of service to the general population. Yet I know that discouragement can easily sneak in when we have worked hard and things don’t go as we had planned.
And then I was thinking about some email that I received recently from someone in a church that I ministered at who really was complaining about the way I did prayer ministry, and slamming my motives and my intentions without knowing the whole story, and actually fabricating some of it casting accusations and literally lying. I shared the email with the senior pastor and he assured me that I did nothing wrong, and then I got another email from this person stating some of the same things over again, and finally telling me that they forgave me, but to be honest it felt like they vomited in my lap. It was not pleasant and I felt some discouragement trying to creep in.
As I arrived at my hotel in and began to write this blog, I asked God for some scriptures and the first one He downloaded to me is below.
“Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not in my presence only, but also in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing.” Phil. 2:12-14
It would be easy to ask for sympathy, and perhaps you have looked for sympathy in your life, but sympathy is not what we need biblically. From what I can tell, Jesus never ministered out of sympathy.
Jesus ministered out of compassion and compassion coupled with faith will move the hand of God and truly make a difference. Jude says that some having compassion make a difference. Faith that is motivated by compassion will indeed present a very present help in a time of trouble. If sympathy was all that was needed, then poor countries like Haiti and Turkey and other places would be very wealthy and prosperous today. We can always find places for sympathy anywhere, but sympathy just helps people stay in the same condition, patting them on the back and sharing with them how hard it must be and that they have every right to be discouraged. And the enemy will jump all over that and perpetuate that discouragement.
Hallmark sells sympathy cards, but most people don’t read the verse, but rather jump to the personal greeting that has empathy often coupled with compassion. Hallmark has not figured out how to sell empathy cards.
I really dislike it when pastors tell me that their church is a hospital for the hurting and wounded. I understand the need for healing to happen, and that sometimes it does take some extended time for certain things to be healed, but the reality is that ongoing sickness is often perpetuated by pastors who have this spiritual hospital mentality. It promotes the idea that it is okay for people to be sick and to stay sick. I see some folks, who have been in hospital type churches for decades and just love all of the attention they get on a weekly basis, yet nothing changes and the wounds remain open seemingly open forever. Think about it in the natural – which of you reading this blog today would like to go and check into a hospital and as you do, you hear that you may be in there for five years. I don’t want to go to that kind of hospital. If I have to go to a hospital, I want to get well as fast as possible and return to a better lifestyle than when I went in.
The passage from Philippians says to work out your salvation – let me condense it – “Work out!” That sounds like exercise. Get moving. Respond in faith. I frequently tell people, get over it and get on with it. I am not minimizing the need for counseling and time for true healing, but often that is not needed. Often what is needed is compared to what a good running back does when he side steps a defender. Sometimes we just need to side step the enemy and move on.
And we need to remember that God is working on our behalf, and often He is working behind the scenes, just waiting to see how we are going to respond to a certain situation. Are we looking for sympathy or are we going to walk by faith, not looking at what we can see, but instead with spiritual eyes, looking beyond at what we can’t see. It’s been said that vision without action is a daydream, but action without vision is a nightmare.
Years ago, I heard this phrase – “Glance at the problem then Gaze at God.” (Take a look at 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 for further confirmation.)
In 2 Corinthians 7:5-6 we see these words. “For indeed when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts and inside were fears. Nevertheless, God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us with the coming of Titus.”
Paul says in this passage that he was very tired – in fact he was dead dog tired. I don’t know about you, but when I am tired, weary and worn out, everything seems to hurt. My body aches, my joints hurt, sometimes it feels like my teeth and my hair hurt. Plus he adds that there was trouble on every side. No matter which way he looked, in a 360 degree range, everywhere he looked there was trouble. Now that is a tough situation.
But it gets worse as he then he goes on to say that outside were conflicts and inside were fears. So here is the great apostle Paul admitting to external conflicts and internal fears. I suspect my politician friend felt the same. I know I did, wondering if one person complained about how I prayed for folks, how many others were upset. It was comforting to know that the senior pastor stated that I did nothing wrong. That was a relief. And I have an ongoing postion that I won’t respond personally to criticism and verbal accusations from people who don’t speak into my life. My trusted friends can do that, and when they sense I need to change my attitude or get a faith adjustment, they let me know in a kind, loving, but firm way.
Yet I am often blindsided when attacks come. And I suspect so are you.
Now don’t get all spiritual on me, because I know you have been in the same place and situation. There have been people whom you trusted and knew or perhaps some you never knew who hit you verbally for something that was so outrageous and so strange, that you just shook your head in disbelief. I like what Joyce Meyer says when she stated that 10% of the people will never like you no matter what you do.
Paul has an answer to all of these though with the words “Nevertheless God…” Nevertheless simply means, never settle for anything less than God. If people don’t receive you, just shake off the dust and move on. Shake it off, get over it and get on with it. There are so many important things to be done in your life and for the Kingdom of God, so please don’t waste your time worrying about and fretting about someone else’s response. Most likely you can’t change their minds anyway, so trust God. Never settle for anything less than God. Paul’s response was immediate and so should ours.
Psalm 37:8 says, “Do not fret, it only causes harm.” There is no good thing that comes from fretting. Nothing positive, worthwhile, faith-building, or encouraging comes from fretting. So Stop It! Get over it. Get on with it. Trust God. Trust is a Must! I also followed the advise of the text in Philippians and did not dispute the email. What good would that do or accomplish anyway?
And let me add some more advice. definitely don’t quit! Don’t throw in the towel. That is exactly what the enemy wants you to do. You’ve got to continue to move forward. There’s always going to be people who complain, get on your case, tell you can’t make it, trying to make you feel like a loser, and even if you lose an election, or don’t pray exactly like someone else wants you too, it’s not the end of the world, but only the next step to what God has for you in the rest of His world.
Quit looking back at all of your failures, past sins, addictions, problems, difficulties and anything else that makes it hard for you to stay focused on what’s next. Jesus said in one of the Gospels, no man having placed his hands on the plow and then looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God. There will always be people who want to dump on you and tell you can’t make it because of your past. They may even complain in the process. Ignore them. Experts will generally try to tell you what you are doing is wrong and why you can’t get to your goal. Ignore them and proceed anyway.
When we spend our time looking back at all the junk in the past, we actually commit sin because at this point we are placing a higher priority on what we can see, rather than what we can’t see in the future. We become materialistic in our thinking because while the past maybe hurtful, difficult, and full of pain, we can see it, and it obstructs our view and our vantage point of God. The Lord wants us to have faith and trust Him with what is coming up, and even though we can’t see it, because that is what makes it faith activated.
There is a reason your car has a very small rear view mirror as compared to the size of your windshield. We are to spend much more time viewing what’s coming up rather than staring at what is behind us. So many people are hindered by their past that they never accomplish what they were created to do, because they don’t believe that God can use them with a terrible past. But God is in the business of using and making great faith leaps with people who have a tough past. He enjoys taking the weak and confounding the wise with His great power working in the lives of those who have struggled. But it still takes faith to take even the first step. You can do it. You really can, just don’t quit!
Let me close with this true story. It comes from Pastor Tommy Barnett at Phoenix First Assembly of God. I was actually offered a job at this mega church back in 1997 when at that time the average attendance was around 10,000. Today it is closer to 30,000. But here is the story.
Pastor Barnett received an invitation to minister and speak at another church convention. And he felt like God was in it, so he accepted, but he called the senior leader who invited him to ask why he was selected, stating that they had never met, and Pastor Tommy was wondering why he might have been asked to speak at this conference.
This particular leader responded with this story. Years ago, I was the pastor of a very small church on the east coast of America. I was struggling and not doing well, and my past was worse and so I had decided to resign my pastorate and return to some sort of corporate structure and business. But I had purchased and planned to go and hear Pastor Tommy speak and so with my resignation papers in my coat pocket, I headed off to the seminar.
Pastor Tommy spoke that night on the subject of “Don’t’ Quit.” And this pastor was determined to quit the very next day, but something in that message stirred him and so he did not resign, but kept moving and then took a church in Dallas that today is known as the Potter’s House where he – T D Jakes is the pastor of a rapidly growing multi-denominational church reaching thousands, plus Pastor Jakes is often in the white house, regardless of who the President is and which political party he is a part of, and ministers effectively to Presidents and many other Politicians, Businessmen and woman and has great influence in many areas.
What would have happened had he quit. What will happen if you quit? If it feels like someone just threw up in your lap, then get a new pair of pants, and keep moving, but don’t quit.
When King David’s city was attacked and his family and his wives, and his children and all of his army’s families were kidnapped and the town was burned to the ground and King David’s men wanted to kill him, David found a place and he prayed and he encouraged himself in the Lord, and got a strategy and a plan from God, and set out after the enemy and recovered everything. That has to be your viewpoint and mine. That has to be our plan. Don’t let life, sickness, people or anything else get you down.
Some people think that God allows or sends discouragement to teach us a lesson, but the truth is that God sent Jesus to teach discouragement a lesson. Remember, Trust is a Must!
Get over it and Get on with it! Jesus will help you for sure, but you have got to want to get past it too. That’s called faith. It’s easy to look at what you can see in the past, but it takes great faith to reach forward to what you can’t see and believe God.
Jesus, please bless everyone who has read this today with trust, faith and tenacity, to move forward, without even glancing at the past, and gazing at you and to remember, that we will never settle for any- thing less than God. Amen.
If you believe it, say. Nevertheless God! Nevertheless God! Nevertheless God!
As a reminder, if you are interested in securing a copy of my new book, “Downloads from Heaven” which is full of encouraging stories and scriptures, leave me note here with your email address and I will respond with ordering details. For all those who request a copy of the book, I will also add in a free teaching CD for you to enjoy.
This is very timely and very encouraging!! I shared it with two other friends who I am sure will be encouraged also. Thanks for keeping on!!! Could you also send me your book ordering information?
Thank you – I sent you an email response.
God’s Word is forever…..the accuser of the brethern often comes through people, often the very people we care for. Thank you for this. As God clearly warned, in the end days we will become weary and want to quit. Its always good to hear testimony on others who feel this way to know how to strengthen ourselved in the Lord….
Ouch and amen!!
An anointed woman with a great prophetic gift gave Les (whom you met when you were here) a really good word last week. This week, I realized it was a word for me too. And now, after reading your post, I realized it was a word for the whole Body of Christ so please allow me to share it. She told him, “You are on a tightrope and you have thrown away the balancing stick because you no longer need it. You are confidently taking one step at a time, knowing that as you walk this rope (this straight and narrow path), and you don’t turn to the left or to the right, you will get to the other side where amazing things await you. You have no fear because you know there is a safety net and it will catch you if you fall.” Of course we all know that the safey net is Jesus and if we lose our balance and fall, He will always catch us. But I was telling Les what a drag it would be if we were to fall and we had to climb the pole and start all over again. Better to be obedient…better to be still and always listen to that quiet voice that tells us how to keep walking…better NOT TO QUIT! If we look behind us, we will lose our balance. If we get distracted and miss a step, we will fall. The only way to keep walking in confidence on this tight rope is to keep looking forward, focused only on Jesus, listening attentively to His voice telling us to come forward! Personally, I can almost see what’s on the other side and it’s going to be AMAZING!!! So to anyone who is feeling discouraged and who may have naysayers putting them down or whatever (that happened to me this week)–DON’T QUIT and KEEP GOING FORWARD because what awaits us is soooo worth it!!!
Jesus said that ‘the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ What is it about America that we have this feeling lurking below the surface of our thoughts that bad things should not be happening to us? Jesus said there is a thief and he comes to steal, he comes to kill and he comes to destroy. The enemy is real. We are in a war. Problems and difficulties are going to be a part of our life on this world. ‘In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.’ Amen, brother Jay. Eyes off self and on our Sovereign God who is over all and above all, understands it all and ultimately controls it all. Fix, the apostle said, your eyes on Jesus. (to make fast, firm, or stable, to settle definitely; determine.)
I was so encouraged and blessed as I read this article! Thank you so much!
Thanks for the encouragement! I need it right now as seek to finish the race with seminary! NEEDED this!
Ok…as I was reading this I thought you were writing it directly to me. So obviously I am feeling some guilt for acting like I want sympathy from everyone while I am going through these cancer treatments. I don’t want to stay in the “hospital” for five years. I really do want to get the good news that I am in remission. I had never expected three years later I am still going through this. So, please help me and explain…how do I graciously ask for help when I need it, without being a burden to others??? I actually did send an email asking for people to help me this year, and I am discouraged with how things are going. But after reading this I want to send everyone an email back and tell them not to worry about it and I will be fine. So Jay…I loved your message, but at the same time I feel guilt and shame because of the situation I am in. Any other words of advice for me so I know I can continue down the right path??
I did not realize that you were still battling this disease – I am sorry for your struggle – can you get to Seward this weekend when I am there – maybe we can pray some more – and letting people know and asking for prayer is not the same as looking for sympathy – it is okay to share real life situations and share your feelings and even symptoms – just try real hard not to let your discouragement of the 3 year process run and ruin your life – we all get discouraged and we all have to either fight thru things or just give up – it does not sound to me like you have been throwing out the sympathy letters looking for that but rather just being real about your life and your walk with God. I sent out email too when I am battling something or need more prayer support – Galatians 6:2 speaks to that as do several other passages – I think you are on the right track and I commend you for reading the article and pressing in for more of God.
VERY WELL EXPRESSED! Not a fun place to be but so much comfort as eyes are kept on Father rather than people.