- Coping With Discouragement by Cindy Granke
- Prayer in
a Garden (poem)
- Happy Minds (Part 1) by Cindy Granke
Minds (Part 2) by Cindy Granke
- Think on These Things (poem)
Coping With Discouragement
by Cindy Granke
People sometimes expect that once they become Christians, all of
their problems will be solved, and life will be easier. However, God never promised us a rose garden
here on this earth. In fact, He promised that all who live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution
(2 Tim. 3:12). What God did promise us
that is that He would give us the strength to cope with whatever besets us (Phil. 4:13). Some of us are going through real discouragement at this time,
and while the following comments are written with them in mind, all of us occasionally suffer discouragement
in one form or another. Perhaps all may find encouragement in this study.
that you are not alone in your suffering. Peter exhorts you to cast all your cares upon Jesus because
he cares for you... Knowing that other brethren suffer the same afflictions (2 Peter 5:7-9. I realize that
knowing someone else hurts does not cause your suffering to go away, however, Peter continues, "and
after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory
in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you (2 Pet. 5:7-10).
Elijah experienced the feeling that he was alone in his suffering. He became so discouraged due to
Jezebel's persecution, that he just wanted to die. He felt that all of the "good guys"
had been slain, that only he was left, and that his own life was in danger (1 Kgs. 19:10). Now, that's discouragement! God assured Elijah that there
were 7,000 others besides himself (1 Kgs. 19:18),
thus we must conclude that even when we feel alone, God knows His own by number and name. There
are always others. (1 Kgs 19:4,18)
Secondly, you should know that Jesus is not unfamiliar with your sorrow, or its
resulting temptation. "For we do not have a high priest who cannot
sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet
without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace to help in time of
need" (Heb 4:15-16) You may say, "But Jesus did not have a mate who
left him for another." That is true, but his disciples, whom He loved dearly,
deserted Him. Peter went so far as to deny that he even knew Him (Mt 27-75). Jesus
suffered the human sorrow of being abandoned by those He loved. He can surely
understand our despair.
The Hebrew writer tells us to "be content with
such things as ye have, for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that
we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto
me" (Heb. 13-5-6)
We must not neglect to approach Him in prayer. All too often we allow our heavy burden to distract
us from all our pain. There is good advice in some of the hymns which we have
sung from our childhood. One of my favorites is "What a friend we have in Jesus".
Fear thou not, for I am with thee.
Be not dismayed, for I am thy God.
I will strengthen thee.
Yea, I will help thee.
Yea, I will uphold thee
with the right hand of my righteousness
Prayer in a Garden
world seemed cruel, but evening hours
Were filled with perfume from forgotten flowers.
I saw again familiar filigree
Of moonlight through my lacy lilac
I heard the robins stirring in their nest;
And saw the
path that fairy feet had pressed;
Reflected stars were in my garden pool;
On my warm face the breeze was kind and cool.
The silence seemed to speak, my
head was bowed,
Then ramblers that had grown into a cloud
my eyes that, tear-washed, now could see
The beauty that today was lost to me.
Dear God, who is so near to flowers, and birds,
Be nearer still, as I shall
search for words
To thank Thee for the blessings night revealed,
Which through the day discouragement concealed.
-Eva Sparks Taylor
by Cindy Granke
Christians are different from everyone else in the world. They are saved and
belong to the Lord. They even think differently than other people. All of their pursuits are directed by spiritual
concerns. This attitude is in marked contrast with that of worldly people because Christians have been renewed in spirit
and mind (Eph. 4:23-24).
This difference in attitude must be developed and nurtured by the Christian and manifested in her conduct every day.
When her life is characterized by a negative disposition and she fails to exhibit fruits of the spirit, such as those listed
in Gal. 5:22-26, something is wrong and needs correcting.
A study of the Philippian letter, in particular the fourth chapter, might help us to identify
some of the attributes which should characterize the Christian.
AGREEABLENESS – "Be of the same mind in
the Lord" (Phil. 4:2). The two women to whom this statement is directed are known for only two things. They
were Christians who could not, or would not, get along with each other. Unfortunately, this kind of negative behavior
is also observed in many saints today, who find fault in everyone and everything.
Let's face it, not everyone says or does things the same way,
and we cannot control others or have everything our own way. If sin is not involved, why not give way to the other person?
A continual struggle to get others to do things the way we do them or think the way we think is best does not lead to peaceful
co-existence or to a happy mind. Wouldn't it be better to be even-tempered and overlook disagreements (Prov. 19:11)?
Paul exhorted those brethren in Corinth who were going to law against each other, "Why do ye not rather take wrong?
Why do ye not rather allow yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Cor. 6:1-8).
Getting along with others sometimes means putting others’
feelings before our own. Paul urged the saints in Rome, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love,
in honor preferring one another" (Rom. 12:10). And Peter likewise admonished, "Be ye all of one mind, having
compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous . . . seek peace and ensue it" (1 Pet. 3:8-11).
Courtesy is an often neglected ingredient in our relationships. Likewise, we would go a long way toward getting along
with others if we showed the kind of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, longsuffering, and consideration we would like others
to have for us – "forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even
as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Col. 3:12-13). A Christian who cannot get along with others creates her
own unhappiness. A happy mind is not dependent on what those around us do or don't do. It is dependent on how
we deal with what those around us do or don't do.
SPIRIT – "Help those women which labored with me..." (Phil. 4:3). This attribute goes hand
in hand with being agreeable. Cooperation involves helping each other. It involves "pulling together"
and "carrying my share of the load" in the church. Laziness
does not produce a happy mind. As a matter of fact, it generally causes one to feel "left out" of things due
to her lack of participation. When cooperation is present, everything is done for the good of all. Selfishness
has no place in a Christian's attitude. We are all many members, but we are one body – Christ's. If one
member suffers, we all suffer with her. If one member is honored, we all rejoice with her. I am not needed more or less
than every other saint, and therefore I should not expect to be honored more than my sister or brother in Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-27).
CHEERFULNESS – "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice" (Phil. 4:4). Have you ever noticed
that some saints appear to be the world's most miserable wretches? Paul mentions "joy" and "rejoicing"
seventeen (17) times in the book of Philippians. Was Paul without his share of trouble? Of course not! He was
beaten three times, stoned, shipwrecked three times, in danger numerous times and nearly everywhere he went, often without
food, suffering cold and exposure (2 Cor. 11:24-28), and he might even have had had a physical handicap (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
Yet he maintained a cheerful outlook.
Solomon taught in Eccl. 3:4 that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. There is nothing wrong with
tears. They are a release in times of disappointment, bereavement, sympathy, or separation from loved ones. Tears of
penitence are also appropriate. Realizing his own shortcoming, Peter wept bitterly at such a time (Mt. 26:75).
Sometimes self-pity invades the heart,
blocking out cheerfulness, as it did with Martha (Lk. 10:38-42). When the "oh-poor-me’s" overrun our
thinking, we must drive them out, lest they take up permanent residence there.
We can cultivate joy by talking to ourselves. David did (Ps. 42-5),
and so did Solomon (Eccl. 1:16; 2:1). We can talk ourselves into, or out of almost anything. It is "the fool
(that) hath said in his heart, there is no God" (Ps. 14:1). The rich man talked himself out of being concerned
about his soul (Lk. 12:19). And yes, when our thinking becomes skewed, it’s even okay to answer ourselves.
God does not give us commands that we are incapable of obeying. So when He commands
us to rejoice, it is within our power to do so. How? By planning constructive endeavors and concentrating on others
(Phil. 2:3-4). Do something for someone else – without begrudging it (Rom. 12:9; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 Jn. 3:18).
Jesus said, "Just as you want men to treat you, treat them in the same way. If you love those who love you, what
credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same thing. And if you lend to those from whom you expect
to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great . . . . For whatever
measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return" (Lk. 6:31-38).
(To be continued.)
by Cindy Granke
In the initial installment on this topic, last
month, we examined how the qualities of agreeableness, a cooperative spirit, and cheerfulness contribute to a Christian’s
development of a positive attitude as an attribute of her godliness. In this final installment, we consider the additional
concepts of moderation, trust, contentment, positive thinking, and confidence.
MODERATION – "Let your moderation be known unto all men" (Phil.
4:5). The Koine Greek word for moderation denotes appropriate, or mild behavior. In James 3:17, the same word
is translated "gentle." Perhaps the best definition of this kind of "appropriate behavior" can be
found by looking at the context of this last passage in the New American Standard (NAS) version: "Who among
you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if
you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom
is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable,
full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy" (Jas. 3:13-17). The Christian with this attitude
is satisfied with less than her due, "does not take into account a wrong suffered," but is patient, kind, not jealous,
and is not easily provoked (1 Cor.13:4-7, NAS). She does not seek to "get even" or demand recompense when
she is slighted (Rom. 12:17-21). This is appropriate behavior for a Christian.
TRUST – "Be anxious for nothing"
(Phil. 4:6, NAS). Anxiety over the issues of this life slowly suffocates spirituality (Mt. 13:22). It distracts
us from our work in the kingdom. The Lord is very specific in His promises to provide our physical needs if we seek
first the kingdom of God, so He urges us, "Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take
thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Mt. 6:33-34). Consider also
Phil. 4:19. Trust Him to take care of you. "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let
your requests be made known to God." If we do that, He promises in return that "the peace of God, which surpasses
all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7). That is surely worth it!
It was the apostle
Paul who said, "I have
learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content" (Phil. 4:11-12). Somehow the grass often seems greener
on the other side of the fence. No matter how much we have, we still want more. "Beware, and be on your guard
against every form of greed, for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions" (Lk. 12:15-21).
Pride gets in the way of contentment and often prevents us from reaching
our goals. Daniel Webster wanted to be President of the United States. Twice he was invited to serve as Vice President,
first by William Henry Harrison, and later by Zachary Taylor, and twice he refused, being too proud to accept less than the
highest office in the land. Harrison and Taylor each went on to be elected President, and each died in office.
Webster could have reached his objective of becoming the President himself, except for his arrogant pride.
Dale Carnegie once observed:
Success is getting
what you want.
Happiness is wanting what you get.
If being filled with Christ
is sufficient to a disciple, she can be content, regardless of external circumstances. But this kind of satisfaction
has to be learned and developed. Human nature is not such that contentment comes naturally.
POSITIVE THINKING – Paul reminded
the Philippians that whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report – to think on these things
(Phil. 4:8). If we control our thoughts, we can have a happy mind. "As he thinketh within himself, so is
he" (Prov. 23:7). The mind naturally dwells on those things to which it is most often exposed. Consider our
choices of books, magazines, movies, websites, television shows and music. Are they spiritually edifying? Often
they are negative, filled with violence, covetousness, dishonesty, constant bickering, profanity, and they glorify sexual
immorality. Instead, why not listen to sermons or hymns, read books and magazines, and visit Internet resources that
strengthen us? Visit sick or elderly sisters who do not have much company. Take time out to pray every day.
Choose wholesome entertainment. Consciously doing so will help us reject negative thoughts and replace them with positive
A principal at an elementary school in Garland, Texas, told
of a second grade boy who fell and knocked out a tooth at school. At recess, the boy fell again and broke his arm.
After the student’s second trip to the doctor that day, the principal decided to take him home before he got himself
seriously injured. On the way home in the car, he notice the child had something clutched in his hand. He asked
him, "What's that you have in your hand, son?" The boy looked up, grinned, and said, "It's a quarter
I found on the playground. This must be my lucky day." Now that's a positive mental attitude!
CONFIDENCE – "I
can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13). There’s no negativism in this verse.
Not, "I can't," but "I can." How many times have you heard a sister say, "I can't be a good
Christian, so why try?" Or, "I just can't stop smoking," or "I can't help myself," or "I
just can't change." The Lord knows what Satan uses to entice us. He was tempted as we are tempted (Heb. 4:15).
And let's not deceive ourselves. It is Satan, not God, who tempts us (Jas 1:12-16). God promises that He will
not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). In Him, we have strength and courage, and "a
very present help in time of trouble" (Ps. 46:1). If we choose to do so, we can have confidence in that.
Spirituality and happy minds go together. Each of us needs an occasional tune-up
in this area. Some of us may even require a complete overhaul. Nevertheless, our problems are minor compared to
Paul's. If he maintained a positive mental attitude as an attribute of godliness, surely we can do no less.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be
acceptable in thy sight, O Lord,
my strength and my redeemer.
Think on These Things
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard
your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever
things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any
virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard
and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Php 4:6-9)