Philippians offers a plan out of the discouragement that plagues our world.
I remember hearing the song “Home On the Range” when I was a kid. There was a line in the song that always confused me:
Where seldom is heard
A discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day
I wasn’t sure what “seldom” meant, but I was certain it belonged on that list of words that I wasn’t supposed to use (you know, the words Dad always used). “Seldom” was a discouraging word. If I said it, other people would feel bad.
(How’s that for 4-year-old logic?)
It didn’t take me long to find out that “seldom” itself wasn’t a discouraging word. In fact, it seldom discourages anyone. But, there are plenty of other discouraging words, phrases, and even attitudes. We seldom escape discouragement.
So What’s The Cure for Discouragement?
There is so much discouragement around us. Is it any wonder so many people seem miserable these days? We live in troubling times, but discouragement doesn’t have to own us. We have hope in Jesus! That beats any discouragement this world can throw at us!
Paul is an excellent example of holding onto hope amid discouragement. He was in prison, awaiting trial with the possibility of execution, and yet, in Philippians 1:18, he is rejoicing! Why? Because he could see past his discouragement and still find Jesus at work!
If Paul could do that from prison, you and I can do that wherever we are!
So How Did It Go?
I’ve chosen Philippians 1:7 as the driving verse for this series. Paul writes of his affection for this church, “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart.” All through the letter, even when he has to deal with difficult people (I’m looking at you, Euodia and Syntyche!), it is obvious he loves them.
I love my people and hold them in my heart. I also have a heart for other preachers who tune in to our Livestream and listen to my podcasted sermons. So it was essential for me to address their discouragement also.
For a sermon on discouragement, I received many encouraging comments when finished. I believe our people have felt the discouragement of the last couple of years deeply. We’ve lost some dear friends to COVID, and we’ve seen others impacted by the lockdowns. I was glad to point them toward something positive.