1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
Do you know that in life discouragement is unavoidable? And, it will come to kill your excitement for the Lord. When discouragement sets in, your heart feels as if something has died from within. There is an inescapable numbness that drains all your energy and is heavy. You sit for a moment and wonder how quickly your excitement for the Lord has vanished. Everything feels surreal and you struggle to move on with life.
You were expecting something purposeful to take place, but instead something unimaginable has happened. You had all the right intentions, but you can’t believe how things have turned out. Here, loneliness creeps in and you become immobile to serve any longer. Discouragement is real, and enduring through it sometimes seems impossible, because joy of serving seems no longer available. Here, our sight of vision becomes unclear and doubt is raised in our hearts.
Do you know God is so faithful that He empowers us to thrive even when all seems to be lost? He revives; He restores; He refreshes; and, He resurrects our hearts.
In second mission journey, Paul and Silas traveled through Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches (Acts 15:40-41). Paul takes Timothy (half Greek and half Jewish) in Lystra along the journey and numbers in the churches grew daily (Acts 16:1-5). However, in Philippi Paul and Silas were stripped and beaten and thrown into prison. During the hours of persecution, a Roman soldier and his whole family got saved (Acts 16:11-40).
Paul viewed his personal trials of getting dragged, being stripped, ruthlessly beaten and thrown into prison as nothing to him in comparison to the joy he would glory in the presence of Jesus when He returns (Thess. 2:19). My conclusion is that what nurtures faith are not special privileges but rather adversities. So, where faith is easy, it is fading; where it’s a challenge, it thrives.
Allow me to share a story that was told by Charles R. Swindoll: Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous composer-pianist, was scheduled to perform at a great concert hall in America. Present in the audience that evening was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, he squirmed constantly in his seat. His mother was in hopes that her son would be encouraged to practice the piano if he could just hear the immortal Paderewski at the keyboard. So, against his wishes he had come.
As she turned to talk with friends, her son could stay seated no longer. He slipped away from her side and found himself on the center stage flooded with blinding lights. Without noticing the sophisticated audience, the boy sat down at the stool, staring wide-eyed at the black and white keys. He placed his small trembling fingers in the right location and began to play “Chopsticks.” The roar of the crowd was hushed as hundreds of frowning faces pointed in his direction. They began to shout: “Get that boy away from there!” “Who’d bring a kid that young in here?” “Where’s his mother?” “Somebody stop him!”
Backstage, the master overheard the sounds out front and quickly put together in his mind what was happening. Hurriedly, he grabbed his coat and rushed towards the stage. Without one word of announcement, he stooped over behind the boy, reached around both sides, and began to improvise a countermelody to harmonize with the enhanced “Chopsticks.” As two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy’s ear “Keep going. Don’t stop. Keep on playing…don’t stop…don’t quit.”
And so, it is with us. We hammer away on our projects, which seem about as significant as “Chopsticks” in a concert hall. And about the time we are ready to give up, along comes the Master, who leans over and whispers “Now keep going; don’t quit. Keep on…don’t stop; don’t quit,” as He improvises on our behalf, providing just the right touch at just the right moment.
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