I Just came back from a river-fishing trip with a friend. It was a beautiful morning to be on the water. This time of year, the early morning is usually the best because the heat really picks up about mid-morning. This day was no different. By 10:30, our hopes were fried, along with our back and neck. But even before that, the action was minimal at best. We caught a few small ones, but never really got into the smallmouth population we had hoped for. It seems the last few times we have went, we have left with the same results. We have fun. We love the comradery. The outdoors is beautiful. But the fishing has been disappointing. After three times on the same float, discouraging. The thoughts of doing it again? Depressing. And that is the way it works in other parts of our lives as well. More important parts.
All of us get disappointed. To be disappointed means that an appointment has been missed or lost. This simply means that some things we expected to happen, didn't. As long as we have any expectations whatsoever, we all will have disappointments. Being disappointed continually can lead to a deeper problem. Discouragement. It is the loss of courage. It's saying, since I have been disappointed so much, I am no longer confident in anything good happening. I have lost the courage to continue down the same path I've been going. If one remains without courage long enough, he becomes depressed. Depression is when life has seemingly been squeezed out. Life has been pressed from us. Many of us know what each of these feels like. Some linger longer in discouragement and depression. Some suffer in ways that the rest of us cannot imagine. That's why it is so important for us to encourage one another. Because, while disappointments are universal and even come from strong faith, discouragement comes from its lack. That's why throughout the scriptures, we are continually told to "be of good courage." And that is also why we are to be people of "Encouragement." The "en" means to cause. It simply means we are to cause courage in other people. The temptation to lose courage can come from a lot of things, but it always starts with fear of the unknown. It can be the unknown about a job, a sickness, a death, or the next move. This is the predicament of everyone around us. And while I may not have the answer they need, I can choose to cause courage to come into their lives by my words and actions. When you think of the favorite people of your past – the teachers, friends, family members, neighbors; they are your favorite because they believed you could do anything. They instilled courage. They didn't ignore your problems or difficulties, they just believed the greatest partnership known to man was you and God.