The solution to discouragement
Every Christian who struggles with depression struggles to keep their hope clear. There is nothing wrong with the object of their hope—Jesus Christ is not defective in any way whatsoever. But the view from the struggling Christian’s heart of their objective hope could be obscured by disease and pain, the pressures of life, and by Satanic fiery darts shot against them.
We all have to fight the same way, by getting our views of Christ and his promises clear every hour of every day.
All discouragement and depression is related to the obscuring of our hope, and we need to get those clouds out of the way and fight like crazy to see clearly how precious Christ is. (John Piper, “Can Christians Be Depressed?”
There’s a wealth of wisdom in this passage. Jesus Christ will never be defective as our object of hope, but as Piper notes, our troubles may obscure that hope.
What, then, is the solution to discouragement? As Piper says, “Fight like crazy to see clearly how precious Christ is.” We must find a way to lift our eyes above the fog of trouble that surrounds us. As David passed through the valley of the shadow of death, he could fear no evil because his heart and mind were fixed on God, not to mention God’s provision, goodness, and mercy (Ps 23:4).
Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self can be renewed day by day if only we refuse to wallow in our misery (2Co 4:16). To be clear, I’m not suggesting our struggles aren’t real or even devastating. Instead, I’m proposing that we not dwell on them. Acknowledge them for what they are, then hold them up next to Christ our Lord. You will find this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2Co 4:17).
I still remember the lesson my driver’s ed instructor taught me as a young man. He told me to never stare at the hazards on the side of the road or the cars approaching from the opposite direction. “Look straight ahead,” he said. “Keep your eyes on the place you intend to go because the car will drift toward whatever has your attention.”
In times of discouragement, I can think of nothing better for us than to pray, read our Bibles, and surround ourselves with fellow-believers. In short, focus on Christ and his promises.
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