All of us have faced great discouragement in our lives. Some may currently be in the depths of despair, losing hope, and seeing few options available to change their situation. Humility was an attribute modeled by Jesus, and it is in the toughest of times that we have the opportunity to grow and express our own humility. As difficult as our circumstances might appear, suffering builds character; if we let them, our trials can be a springboard to great new opportunities and a whole new season in life.
Nothing is forever except the love of God. We allow Satan to so thoroughly defeat us that we begin to believe the lie that where we are is all there is; we buy into the deception that happiness and fulfillment is for other people not for us. I can almost hear the cackle of demonic forces when I look at people who are so down that they no longer have any concept of up. Each one of us was created in the very image of God. This means we were created to be beautiful, loving, successful, confident and extraordinarily capable people. The entrance of sin into our world has damaged our outlook, but it has far from destroyed our destiny.
All of us, regardless of circumstance, handicap or station has the unique ability to start a new dream right here and right now. One of the great facts of life is that as long as we have a breath remaining, we get the privilege of a “do-over”. Regardless of what has happened, what you’ve done or where you’ve been, you can begin again today. By sending Jesus to die on the cross for our mistakes, for our sins, it became an established fact that God is the God of second chances. By the blood of Jesus and by His mercy and grace, we have the option to have our entire past washed away and swept clean; what were once regrets can now become opportunities for growth. Instead of dwelling on past failures, make right what you can and forgive yourself for those things which you can not correct; then move on. You cannot live a life following Jesus while at the same time being a defeated individual. The power of Christ simply won’t allow it. The closer you draw to Him, the more you will be bathed in His power and made whole.
Allowing God to pull you out of your pit of hopelessness is never easy. Entrenched habits and opinions will claw mercilessly at you, attempting to hold you down. It will take an extraordinary amount of work on your part. Change is hard, but the alternative is worse. Change requires discipline, and we humans tend to rail against anything that restricts our selfish desire to do what we want to do. When you begin to develop the mental muscle required for discipline, constantly ask yourself, “Am I the person I want to be? Am I happy with the life I have? Am I the beautiful, creative, confident person I was created to be?” If the answer to any of those questions is ‘no’, then it is time to change. Determine one thing you can do today to move yourself toward being who God created you to be; take one action that will put you one step closer to Jesus. When tempted to stray from your new course, simply ask yourself, “Which decision brings me closer to the person I was created to be; which choice brings me closer to Jesus?” After mastering one discipline, choose one more thing that will improve your life. Much like a snowball rolling downhill, discipline gains momentum and strength the longer it is allowed to develop. Start small, but do start.
John Lawry once wrote a lyric that has stuck with me for the last 20 years and has had a profound impact on my life: “We are what we are, because of what we allow; are we becoming what we want to be?” The choice is ours. The blood of Jesus, His sacrifice for us, provides the opportunity to begin again and to start fresh. That opportunity is available to each one of us and at any time. It will not be easy and it will require plenty of sweat equity on our behalf. Are you willing to work for it? Are you willing to change? Will you be content with who you are or will you choose to become the one God created you to be? If you are discouraged, defeated, or broken in any way, determine that today is the last day you will feel like this. Take a step towards Jesus; reach for His hand. He waits patiently to lead you to a life beyond compare, a life spent following Him. Close your eyes and take a deep breath; now open your eyes and begin to live again.