January 9, 2021
Oh! That horrible airplane ride from La Paz to Miami back in 1964. My mom, my brother, age 11, and I at 12 sat in the back of the two-engine prop airplane. While I gazed out the window to my left, my mom and brother focused on other urgent matters.
Shortly after reaching thousands of feet in the air, Mom yanked paper bags from the pocket in front of her. She handed one to my brother and held the other to her face. They each drew them to their mouth and from time to time, deposited the contents of their stomach. No doubt, the culprit was the bumpy ride.
Both looked pale and miserable.
I turned to my Mom. “Are you going to be okay?” I said.
Mom nodded as she brushed strands of her black hair from her forehead. “We’ll be okay. Don’t worry. Just think about our new life in the United States. Keep thinking of that.”
To this day, I don’t know why the airplane ride didn’t affect me in the least. But I also know that I’ll never forget her answer. She didn’t focus on her misery. She saw beyond it, she anticipated the foreseen outcome, and she concentrated on the destination — the United States, the land where my brother and I would have opportunities that Bolivia couldn’t offer.
Many today are in that same situation—riding in that bumpy ride of uncertainty. Sick and tired of it all. Unaware, our emotions and senses are jostled, disturbing our peace and security.
That’s because, unlike my Mom, we’re focused on the events of the day, the political scene, the dark changes, the distorted statistics and the fear that nags.
But we can change all that when we remember our pilot.
The one who is in control and who knows the destination—The Most High God who has prepared a victorious landing.
And while we enjoy the ride, sit back and relax, written across the blue skies are these five reasons why discouragement must go:
- No matter what you lost, what you anguished about, or the changes you saw, it’s best to, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18). The journey is better when we wait in expectation of those new things God is doing. The streams of security in the midst of losses. And anticipating how God makes a way in the wasteland of bad news.
- We can’t lose sight of the victory even when enemies are in our face. They come in the form of sudden illness, financial setbacks, unemployment, family conflicts and losses. They become the foes who rob our peace. Therefore, the same instruction God gave the Israelites applies to us today: “When you go to war and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory’” (Deuteronomy 20:1-4). Because the Divine Warrior goes before us, we don’t fret. We don’t fear or give way to panic.
- God’s victory awaits. But it doesn’t come through our efforts, our wisdom, through our man-made laws or through our political affiliations. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). That’s why sleepless nights and anxious days end. The victory is through Christ.
- During the journey to victory, the problems we face may look like menacing giants. We may feel small against their threat. They may come at us with javelins of insults or threatening swords. But they are truly soon-to-be-defeated Goliaths. None are a match to the power of God. And with mighty courage, we echo David’s words: “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel…whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands…” (1 Samuel 17:45-47). The Goliaths we face will be soon defeated, not in our own strength, but through the power of the Lord they will fall.
- We count on victory and confidence grows. We make David’s words our own: “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident” (Psalm 27:1-3).
Decades ago, the small airplane shook and my Mom and brother held a paper bag to their mouth. Today, our world shakes and many wear a mask on their face. Some tremble in fear, others rage in anger. But not those who believe in God’s promises. we are covered with peace because we know who triumphantly fights our battles. God fights them all. We need only to be still (Exodus 14:14 paraphrased).
We’re still but not idle. With firm steps, we move forward on solid ground. We march under the banner of God’s victory. With each step, prayer never stops, faith becomes deep and trust becomes real.
Father, even though we may bear scars from 2020, 2021 will be different. No matter what happens, we’ll not be discouraged because our focus will be on the victory you prepared for us since the beginning of time. In Jesus name we declare.
Which of the five reasons will you embrace to avoid discouragement?
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