Encouragement in Discouraging Times

Sometimes things just don’t go our way, do they? Everyone knows what it’s like to get discouraged by the events of life. Think about the things that have discouraged you lately.
Do you ever struggle with the idea that as Christians, we shouldn’t ever be discouraged? Sometimes I think we create false expectations for what it means to be a Christian
and we go through difficult times and start to get discouraged because of them…and then start feeling discouraged because we feel discouraged, because the “good Christians” in the world never do.

Here’s the thing: As followers of Christ we’ve never been promised an insulation from the things that can get us discouraged, but we have been given provisions that enable us to overcome in those times when we get down.

We’re coming to a section in our study in Acts where many scholars believe that Paul was facing his own season of discouragement. We’ll be reading Acts 18:1-17.

In 1 Cor 2:3, Paul remembered how it was that he came into the city of Corinth: “I came to you in weakness, fear and with much trembling.” When you think about it, he’s been through a lot the last few years – he’s been stoned and left for dead, beaten and thrown into jail, and riots have broken out in every city forcing him to leave town, and in Athens he’s been called a “seed-picker” and required to defend himself in front of the council of the Areopagus (heh…my spell-check wanted me to change that to “asparagus”, which made me think of what a Veggi-Tales account of Acts would look like….but that’s another story).

One of the things that Luke makes sure we know about are the specifics of the people who begin to surround Paul while in Corinth; Aquila, Priscilla, Silas, Tim, Crispus, Titius and a bunch of others as a new church begins to form. We see how it starts to invigorate Paul’s ministry. How does community and friendship provide us with encouragement when we find ourselves depleted?

Later Paul has a cool dream where Jesus tells him not to wig out, but remember that He’s still with him. What are the ways that we can seek out God’s presence and find encouragement when we’re down? What are some ways that you have experienced God’s presence? How did it affect you?

Well, the story finishes off with a rather surprising turn of events. Gallio is actually known to us in history, and his decision here shows how God works through any agency he chooses to advance his causes.

If anyone is interested there is an awesome lecture that really provides some fascinating insights about ancient Corinth – it’s found HERE. It’s about an hour long, but well worth your time.

Don’t forget that Surf-N-Grill is this Sunday! Hope to see yez there!

2 comments

  1. It’s funny, I’ve been in the church my entire life. For most of my life I felt that any discouragement or disappointment was, in fact, some roadblock thrown up by forces of the dark one to thwart my blessing or destiny. Looking back, all I can do is shake my head. Of course we face disappointment. Of course we see discouragement. How else is the world to see the work of Jesus in our life? This new life is more about how God helps us live in the blood and guts of a life lived than in the penthouse above everything. And, every once and awhile, God allows the folks that have been causing us issues to feel a bit of justice. It’s almost like he winks and says, “see, I got this”.

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