Discouragement, Our Great Enemy – But His Grace is Greater

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Imagine a situation where the Lord has laid it upon your heart to arrange something for local people, along the lines of a study of Psalm 23 from personal experiences that affect many today. You have gone to much trouble to advertise, to send out invitations to individuals and to provide light refreshments but more than this – you have much to offer in the form of good things in the spiritual sense. There is the best news mankind has ever heard on offer as well as encouragement, excellent leaflets, books and booklets freely available. You are open to discussion and questioning hearts; the door is wide open too, the surroundings are bright and comfortable, the event is free and the welcome is warm – but no one comes in. A cute little girl with curly hair runs over and smiles in at you but her mother immediately drags her away by the arm. Moments earlier a little boy did exactly the same thing but was also hastily taken away. It is, after all, a community centre… a place where sports of all types are catered for and a variety of entertainment is on the timetable.

‘No harm in sports,’ you might say and of course you are right – but how many people take a serious look at their spiritual needs? They look after their physical and leisurely requirements and they attend to their business, which is important too – but they neglect the most important part of their very existence, that part which will never die – their souls. As the old hymn goes: “room for pleasure, room for business…”

Now, I could have been really discouraged by what happened – or even reacted in the wrong spirit, but in the Lord’s strength this did not happen, thankfully. I’m a little disappointed of course but somehow strangely not surprised at all. After a long while, when I knew that no one would turn up I talked with the friendly attendants at the centre, gave them a tract each (which they gratefully accepted) and took my leave. The Lord had some purpose in me being there (even if it was to teach me something) and He has promised that His word will not return unto Him void.

Yesterday I witnessed a man giving out tracts on the street of a different town to the one where I held this morning’s ‘non event.’ I watched as he approached another man in a business suit who was walking towards him. The latter uttered a resoundingly rude “no thanks!!” and hurried on his way. Again, this was not at all surprising… but the tract distributor was clearly angered by this and shouted something after him which did take me by surprise… I could see clearly a look of weariness and terrible discouragement on his face as I approached him and shook hands with him. But it was good to have that warm conversation with him, before I had to go to my appointment.

Unfortunately we live in a world where most people’s interests often do not extend beyond the material things of this life but as Christians, we must be led of the Lord and love all souls, patiently praying that somehow the Lord will break through their indifference and hardness.

Yesterday, before the arranged event I had this sinking feeling that I ‘was going to be wasting my time’ and I felt strongly that I should cancel it. As I was having these thoughts, I was walking past the window sill where my little “Bread of Life” verses were sitting. Prayerfully picking one out, I knew for sure that this was the Lord’s message to me for the day: “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6v9)

And how weary I had felt! I was in pain – a dislocated floating rib the doctor had said. To be honest I just felt like not going ahead with this event but I knew that this would be wrong.

The Lord Jesus Christ left the riches of glory to come down to indifference – and even violent opposition. He took on the form of human flesh with all the disadvantages that this entails – and then gave His all, His very life; suffering that souls would be saved from a horrific eternity. Surely the least I can do is to obey His commands as long as He gives me strength to do so?

I feel that there are two messages in these incidents. First of all, it is better not to give out tracts (or do any other form of Christian evangelism) if it is felt that we are doing it in the wrong spirit. It is essential, by far, to quietly draw close to the Lord again and ask Him to put a right spirit within us and a love for souls – something which is a pre-requisite for reaching others. This is His encouraging message for Christians who seek to reach others with His love for them: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Cor. 15v58) We should obey His commands in a right spirit, in the knowledge that we have no personal control over the reactions of others.  

The second message (on the issue of indifference on the part of the general population) is held in that old hymn, the second verse of which keeps going through my head today: “Have you any room for Jesus?”

The link to this hymn is here: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/h/y/o/hyouanyr.htm

Remember, too, those words in Genesis 6v3: “My spirit shall not always strive with man…”

Have you any Room for Jesus?

Have you any room for Jesus,

He who bore your load of sin?

As He knocks and asks permission,

Sinners, will you let Him in?

Refrain

Room for Jesus, King of Glory!

Hasten now His Word obey;

Swing the heart’s door widely open,

Bid Him enter while you may.

Room for pleasure, room for business,

But for Christ the Crucified,

Not a place that He can enter,

In the heart for which He died?

 

Have you any room for Jesus,

As in grace He calls again?

O today is time accepted,

Tomorrow you may call in vain.

Room and time now give to Jesus,

Soon will pass God’s Day of Grace;

Soon thy heart left cold and silent,

And thy Saviour’s pleading cease.

Daniel W. Whittle (1840-1901)

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