Heartbreaking discouragement comes to everyone who has ever tried to achieve anything. Coping with it is difficult, and understanding what God is really trying to say to us through our circumstances is often more so. The heroes of the Bible faced discouragement; the greatest Christian leaders faced it. Jesus himself faced it. There are times when it is God's will for us to be "in the valley", for there as much as on the mountaintops - sometimes even more! - we grow in the Lord. So, I share with you some quotes that have really helped me:
1. From THE CHRISTIAN PRIEST TODAY (1972), by Archbishop Michael Ramsey:
Christ draws us to watch with him, and to watch will mean to bear and to grieve. As the cloud of God's presence in the tabernacle in the Old Testament was pierced from within by a burning light, so the sorrow of Jesus is the place of reconciling love pouring itself into the world, and his joy there is radiant. "Ask and you shall receive so that your joy may be full" (John 16:24): for "your joy no one can take from you" (John 16:22). "As sorrowful yet always rejoicing" (1 Corinthians 6:10): it is to this that you are committing yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, saying:
Lord, take my heart and break it: break it not in the way I would like, but in the way you know to be best; and because it is you who break it, I will not be afraid, for in your hands all is safe, and I am safe.
Lord, take my heart and give it your joy: not in the ways I like, but in the ways you know are best, that your joy may be fulfilled in me.
2. "A Prayer for the Valley" from PURITAN PRAYER (1975) ed Arthur Bennett:
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths
but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin
I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime
stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells
the brighter thy stars shine;
let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.
3. Psalm 142 (ESV)
1 With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
2 I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.
3 When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.
4 Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.
5 I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
6 Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!
7 Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.
4. Isaiah 40:27-31 (RSV)