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Power Over Discouragement

Friday, March 13, 2015

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:11–13, esv).

There were six Marys in the New Testament. The one in this passage was not Jesus’ mother. It wasn’t the Mary who sat at His feet (Luke 10:39) or the prostitute who experienced His mercy and grace (John 8). Wailing in front of Jesus’ empty tomb was Mary Magdelene. Aside from a mention of His rescuing her from seven demons (Luke 8:1–2), we know little about this Mary.

But it isn’t difficult to imagine how important Jesus had become to Mary Magdelene. Through Jesus Christ her demonic torture was ended and her life was restored—and her love for Him was immense. Trying to cope with her Savior’s death left her deeply discouraged. Rising in her grief to visit His tomb and finding it empty pushed Mary to the brink of despair.

“Your discouragement matters to God. Take it to Him.”

That is the danger of discouragement, because if it continues unattended it can lead to the far more dangerous condition called despair. Lacking courage in life or a particular circumstance; a loss of confidence about the future—discouragement isn’t just a bad day or two. But beware, the progression from discouragement to despair can happen quickly, with devastating consequences.

Think of all the places Mary could have gone that morning with her discouragement. She could have gotten lost in her work or consumed with her family. She could have just stayed in bed. I am not getting up. I can’t face anyone today. Any of those choices would have been understandable.

Instead, Mary rose at dawn and went to the last place she had seen Jesus. Sometimes the most profound things in God’s Word are the simplest things: Mary was discouraged, so she went to find Jesus.

“She turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ ” (vv. 14–15a). Even more amazing, and just as instructive, Jesus was there. Newly resurrected, no doubt He had a fairly lengthy to-do list over the next forty days. But first He paused to care for His discouraged friend.

“Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic,‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher)” (vv. 15b–16).

Jesus’ presence gave Mary power over her discouragement. And when you take your discouragements to Him, He will do the same for you. But doesn’t God already know I’m discouraged? Absolutely. He knows all about it. And He wants you to know that He knows. How?

  • Pray. Get alone, kneel down, and pray out loud with a list. Unburden your heart before the Lord.
  • Journal. Write down what you’re praying about, or write out your prayers. And watch your journal become a chronicle of God’s faithfulness.
  • Get in your Bible. If you’re discouraged, you probably have not been spending a lot of time in God’s Word. Immerse yourself in His Book.
  • Worship. The Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people (see Psalm 22:3). Draw near to Him in worship and let Him be the lifter of your head. 
  • Fellowship. A godly friend is God’s provision—share what you’re walking through with someone who loves Him. Being alone is what a discouraged person may want the most and need the least.

Often what we desperately need is right in front of us, yet in our distress we fail to reach for it. Your discouragement matters to God. Take it to Him. Allow Jesus to reveal Himself to you as He did to Mary—tenderly, lovingly, patiently—and to give you His power over discouragement.

Discouraged today?  Go directly to Jesus—He is risen and waiting for you right now!

Journal

  • On a scale of 1 (highly encouraged) to 5 (deeply discouraged), where would you rate yourself right now? What is fueling that current state of being?
  • Are you in the habit of taking your discouragements to God? What spiritual discipline above would help you grow in this?

Pray
Lord, You are perfect and holy, yet You suffered more than any person on earth. You know my discouragement and have shown Yourself to be trustworthy. Forgive me for not bringing it to you openly, faithfully, so that I would
know that You know. I bring it to You now. Meet me in ____________ with Your life-giving, darkness-dispelling power. Help me lean into Your Word and find hope; Your people and find help; Your worship and be the lifter of my head. I entrust my discouragement into Your capable hands and look forward to Your faithfulness. In Jesus Christ, my healing Savior’s name, I pray, amen.


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Authentic Jesus/Authentic Newness: New Power for the Discouraged, Sermon 4/27/14

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