Friday, December 08, 2006

Resist Discouragement

by Rick Warren

... Great people are really just ordinary people with an extraordinary
amount of determination. Great people don't know how to quit.

Rick Warren

I believe procrastination is the number one enemy of your life
mission. You know what you're supposed to do, but you don't get around
to it. You keep putting it off. That's a deadly enemy. But a close
second is discouragement. If Satan can't get you to put off your life
mission, he'll try to make you quit altogether. He'll neutralize you.

If I'm going to fulfill the purpose for which I was made, then I must
resist discouragement. Galatians says: "Let us not get tired of doing
what is right …" Do you ever get tired of doing what's right? Sure you
do. Because it's easier to do the wrong thing than the right thing.

When you're discouraged, you're ineffective. God cannot use
discouraged people, because discouraged people are the opposite of
people of faith. And God uses people who have faith. When I am
discouraged, I'm saying, "It can't be done." That's the exact opposite
of saying, "I know God can do it because he's said …"

I have a few questions for you. How do you handle failure? When things
don't go your way, when plans don't happen the way you want them, do
you start getting grumpy? Do you get frustrated? Do you start
complaining? Do you have a pity party? Do you finish what you start?
How would you rate yourself on persistence?

The Bible says you need to resist discouragement. Don't give in
without a fight. Nothing worthwhile ever happens without endurance and
energy. When a stone sculptor is trying to sculpt a masterpiece, do
you think the first time he hits the chisel with the hammer
everything's going to fall off and it will be a beautiful sculpture?
No. He has to keep hitting it and hitting it, chipping away. And
that's the way life is. Nothing really worthwhile ever comes easy in
life. You keep hitting it and going after it – and little by little
your life becomes a masterpiece.

The fact is, great people are really just ordinary people with an
extraordinary amount of determination. Great people don't know how to

I'm sure many of you are discouraged. Some of you are discouraged over
your children. Their lives are not going well. Some of you are
discouraged about your marriage. It's not at all what you thought it
was going to be. You feel deflated and disappointed. Some of you are
discouraged about your ministry. Or about your finances, or your
health, or the economy, or an unanswered prayer.

I want to say something to you. It may sound mean, but it isn't. It's
the truth. I say this in love. If you're discouraged, that's your
choice. You have chosen to be discouraged. Discouragement is always a
choice. It comes from thinking discouraging thoughts – and you can
change your thoughts any time. You have a choice of what you're going
to focus on: either your purpose or your problems, God's power or your
weakness, Christ or your circumstances. It's your choice.

Great people fight discouragement. Here's a tip to help: When you get
discouraged, ignore it. Just say to yourself, "I don't have time to be
discouraged right now. I'm too busy fulfilling my life mission." That
doesn't mean you're a Pollyanna and pretend that everything's great.
Life is a mixture of good and bad. You can be realistic, but you also
need to be optimistic because you are a Christian. "I can do all
things through Christ who strengthens me." And "Lo, I am with you
always," God says. He will help you, and he will strengthen you. Faith
starts with optimism.

Some of you have been praying for something specific and you haven't
yet gotten the answer. In Habbakuk 2:3 God says, "These things I plan
[for your life] won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the
time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow,
do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be
patient. They will not be overdue a single day." God's timing is
perfect. Our church claimed this verse from Habbakuk for 13 years. For
13 years we had no building of our own, and the church kept getting
bigger and bigger. We'd say, "Everybody else has a building. How come
we don't have a building?" The reason was that God wanted to put us on
79 acres of land. He had a bigger plan. The piece of property we now
own wasn't even available when we started Saddleback. There weren't
even roads leading to it. God had a plan and slowly, steadily, surely
the vision was being fulfilled.

The same is true in your life. God's delay is not a denial. Just
because you haven't had the answer or the miracle yet, that doesn't
mean God isn't going to do it eventually. It simply means not yet!
Maturity is knowing the difference between, "No," and "Not yet,"
between a delay and a denial. God says, "Don't become discouraged.
Resist discouragement. Because there are going to be delays in your

You're going to be tested in your patience by God. The really good
news is you're not just going to be tested once, you're going to be
tested thousands and thousands of times. Because anybody can be
patient once. And anybody can be patient twice. And anybody can be
patient three times. So what God's going to do is test you over and
over and over. Why? So he'll know how patient you are? No. So you'll

God tests you, not for him to find out what's inside of you but for
you to find out what's inside of you. He tests you so you'll know your
level of commitment, and he tests you so that you can know his
faithfulness. His purpose is to teach you.

Some of you are going through some difficult times right now and you
feel like dropping out of the race. You're discouraged because the
situation seems unmanageable. Unreasonable. Unfair. It may seem
unbearable. Inside you're basically saying, "God, I can't take it any
more. I just can't take it any more!" But you can. You can take it
some more because God is with you. He'll enable you. Remember, you are
never a failure until you quit, because quitting means you won't make
it to the finish line.

Resist discouragement! Finish the race God has set before you.

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