At the end of this post, I asked what we should do if we don’t have encouragers around us. But since then, I realized I left out something so important. What should we do when people AREN’T encouraging? When people are flat out DISCOURAGING? When those who should be supporting us aren’t, when we feel left out in the middle of nowhere to sink or swim? When people we respect tell us we cant or shouldn’t follow through with what the LORD has called us to do?
No matter how many wonderful people are around us doing cartwheels and cheering us on, at some point we will face naysayers and others who fall away when we need them most. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, people will let us down. They are human after all. And so are we for that matter! I know I have let people down plenty of times. If we rely solely on the encouragement and support of others to keep us going, we won’t be going far.
The apostle Paul experienced a lack of support in the worst way. In 2 Timothy 4:16, he says,
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me… (NIV).
There may come a point where we are stripped down, left alone with no one by our sides. Yet we still have the only encouragement that matters, from the one who made us and called us in the first place. Look what Paul says in verse 17 of that same passage
But the LORD stood at my side and gave me strength… (NIV).
Sometimes God takes away people we depend on to force us to rely on Him, to show us that He alone is the source of our strength.
Maybe you won’t get to the point of Paul where you are writing from a prison cell, deserted by many in your time of need, but I would bet that at some point most of us will be let down by others, possibly abandoned when we need them most. I can’t think of anything more discouraging. It may be heartbreaking to get to that place, but there is such beauty in the intimacy, just you and the LORD, pressing on together, whatever the circumstances.
And then, when you do the thing He has called you to do, when you stick it out, wherever He has placed you, no one else will get glory but Him. And you will look back with sweet tears in your eyes and say WOW, look how my God came through when everyone else had left me. Look how He carried me when I was all alone. Look what He did when others said it couldn’t be done. And your heart will about burst with your love for Him. The loneliest times in your life will become some of the most beautiful.
I’d say that is worth the discouragement, the heartache, the waiting, the anxiety, every last ounce of disappointment.
Hang in there. He won’t let you down.