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June 9, 2020

Occidental Community Church family,

Psalm 143:1. "O Lord, hear my prayer; listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.  4.My spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed."

David was crushed in spirit and overwhelmed with despair when he wrote these words.  The specific circumstance that had brought him to this low point in his life is not known.  But in the following verses he finds a reason to be renewed in his faith.  Psalm 143:5. "I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done."   What was it that revived David's confidence in God?  Remembering!  Remembering how God had rescued him in days gone by.  How quickly we forget the past mercies of God!

It is human nature to become discouraged.  It happens in all areas of life.  Husbands and wives face discouragement in marriage.  Students become discouraged in school.  Employees find discouragement in their jobs.  Even Christians struggle with discouragement as they live out their Christian lives.  In times like these, it is important that we do not quickly throw away something of great value during a moment of despair.  

An amusing anecdote comes from the life of the late comedian Bob Hope.  Hope was an avid golfer and always found time to play a round of golf wherever he was doing a show.  One day he was playing golf with movie producer Samuel Goldwyn.  On one hole Goldwyn missed a very easy two-foot putt.  He was so angry and upset at missing the putt that he threw his putter aside in disgust and walked off the green.  When no one was looking, Bob Hope picked up Goldwyn's putter and stuck it in his own bag.  Then on the next hole, Hope had a twenty-foot putt to make.  He took out the putter Goldwyn had just thrown away and sank the putt.

Goldwyn was impressed and said to Hope, "That was very good.  Let me see that putter for a minute."  After looking at it and taking a few practice strokes he said, "I like this putter very much.  Will you sell it to me?"  Hope replied, "Sure I will.  But it will cost you fifty dollars."  Goldwyn said triumphantly, "It's a deal!"  Samuel Goldwyn had just bought his own putter.  Only many years later did he find out that he had paid fifty dollars for a club he had just thrown away one hole earlier!

In writing to Christians who were going through hard times of suffering and had become discouraged, the author of Hebrews reminds them in Hebrews 10:32. "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering."  And then he concludes in v.35. "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  36. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

It helps in times of discouragement and despair to go back and remember better times.  In the past when I have counseled couples who were struggling in their marriages and ready to call it quits, I would give them a homework assignment.  They were to go home and find their wedding album.  They were to spend one hour uninterrupted going through the album and remembering what it was like when they were first in love.  They were then to bring the album to our next counseling session and tell me what they had learned.  That simple assignment of "remembering" often meant the saving of a marriage.

American painter, John Sargent, once painted a small picture of a vase of roses.  It always received high praise from his critics.  Although offered a high price for it on many occasions, Sargent refused to sell it.  He considered it his best work and was very proud of it.  When at times he was deeply discouraged and doubtful of his abilities as an artist, he would look at it and remind himself, "I painted that!"   Then his confidence and ability would return to him.

If you are facing discouragement, don't throw away the putter!  Don't let the enemy defeat you.  And don't feel guilty for feeling discouraged.  It happens to all of us.  Look to God and remember the times in the past that he lifted you from despair.  He can do it again!


Trusting in Him,
Pastor Rick

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