When You Are Discouraged In December

When You are Discouraged in December

With just one week till Christmas and all that has to be done, you are probably feeling that you have more on your plate than you know how to handle.

This is the season of joy, but it is also a time when the cumulative weight of all that has happened in the course of the year catches up with you. I’ve had several conversations this week in which people have said to me, “This has been a really difficult year for our family.”

In this last month of the year there is a sense of being worn out, run down, or stretched thin. Someone described it to me as a “collective weariness.” I think that’s a good description.

What is the answer to collective weariness? Where would we look in the Bible for help when we feel jaded, discouraged, and generally worn out?

Lean into the Truth You Know About God
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable (Isa. 40:28).

God reminds His people of what they already know, what they have often heard, because faith is strengthened, not by learning something new, but by coming back to what we have heard and known.

There are four things right here in Isaiah 40:28 that every believer knows and has heard about God, and that we need to lean into in these times of weariness.

God is our Creator.

God does not grow weary.

God works on an everlasting timescale.

No one can fathom His understanding.

Lean into the Truth You Know About Yourself
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted (Isa. 40:29-30).

Notice the words that are used here: faint, no might, weary, fall exhausted. That’s us! And notice that this is us at our best: “even youths shall be faint and weary, and young men shall fall exhausted.” The phrase “young men” literally means “picked men.” This is like athletes who are in peak condition, the ones who catch the eye of the Olympic selection committee.

At the end of the marathon, even athletes in peak condition are weary. Some fall exhausted. Others look faint. Why? Because their bodies have been through a test of endurance that has pushed them to the limits.

There are limits to all human endurance. Paul describes our bodies as tents (2 Cor. 5), not palaces made of stone and held up by marble pillars, but tents made of canvas and held up by ropes that stretch, sag, and fray. So, no Christian should be surprised at this experience of weariness.

John Calvin said that nearly all the wisdom we possess can be divided into two parts: The knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves. Lean into the truth that you know about God and about yourself.

God is your Creator and He will never abandon you. He does not faint or grow weary. He works on a vast timescale with outcomes still to be revealed. You are not God. You are a created being with limits to your own strength and endurance. You will become weary. You will know what it is to feel spent and exhausted. This should not take you by surprise. Lean into the truth that you know.

Lay Hold of the Hope That You Have
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength (Isa. 40:29).

Notice the word “gives.” This is an action of God in relation to His own people at times when we feel our strength is depleted, and our faith is burning low. He “gives power” and He “increases strength!”

How does God do this? The way He gives strength to the weary is that He gives himself to you. This is not some zapping with power that moves an exhausted Christian into bionic overdrive. The effect of this strength is that God’s people keep pressing on. They keep running. They keep walking.

Listen to how Paul puts this:

We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies (2 Cor. 4:7-10).

The energy of God does not make Paul feel that he is soaring above the clouds. No! He says, “I toil and labor (Col. 1:28-29). I sometimes feel discouraged and exhausted. But here’s why I don’t give up. Here’s why I keep struggling on… God puts the ability to do that in me.”

Receive Strength from the Lord
They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength… (Isa. 40:31).

What does it mean to wait on the Lord? It means to look expectantly in eager anticipation.

When I was a boy, my grandparents would come and visit every Wednesday. My grandmother, (we called her Nana) always had sweets in her bag. I liked it when she came! I would watch at the window for her blue car to arrive. That’s what it means to wait on the Lord. Hope in him. Count on him. Look expectantly for his help.

Laying hold of the hope that you have is the natural result of leaning into the truth that you know. When you lean into what you know about God, you will look to Him and, as you do, He will give you strength.

In His humanity, the Lord knew what it was to be weary. He knew what it was to stumble and fall exhausted from bearing the weight of His own cross. But he is beyond that now! He has ascended to the right hand of the Father and he is there for us.

Christ gives His Spirit to those who hope in Him so that something of His divine power may touch us in our human weakness. Strength comes as we ascend by faith into the presence of the Lord and commune with our living Savior. Here’s what will come from that: You will keep running. You will keep walking. You will keep pressing on.

Colin Smith is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church, a multi-campus church located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and president of Unlocking the...

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1 Comment

  1. Gordon E.Carpenter

    I express my deep gratitude to the person who wrote this message. It has come at the right time in my life at the age of 82. . I came to know The Lord Jesus at the age of 15 through the diligent teaching of my Sunday School Teacher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am presently experiencing a physical challenge of Prostate Cancer/ Radiation Therapy. I am to begin my fifth week of treatment on Tuesday (28th December). My life verse of God’s Word is Isaiah 40:31. I am learning for sure about the matter of “…waiting on The Lord…”. It is not just a few beautiful Words from God’s Word. It is reality to me at this time. My dear wife is very supportive and understanding during this time.
    It was over the this past year that I have experienced “lost” of family members: my brother in November 17, 2019 and just recently of my sister on 18 December 2020.
    Yes, this all is a great emotional experience. Your message came to me just in The Lord’s time; thankful for your being attentive to The Holy Spirit to send such a great message.