May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
The day wasn't looking too good.
It started out with an insult in response to a blessing God wanted me to pass on to someone.
Then a misunderstanding with a loved one whose offer of help sounded like a criticism to tender ears.
Then, the cow.
Monday I decided to tackle the post-winter cleaning of the milk cow's pen. While we clean up the manure every day and toss out soiled straw regularly still, with days and days of snow, wind, and rain eventually the pen needs a good cleaning. And it got one on Monday. All of the built up straw and hay was removed followed by a good dose of stall freshener for the inside and outside of the pen. Only the straw inside the shelter was replaced for Chloe to have a nice bed to sleep on at night.
|Fortunately, I have an outstanding work crew!|
And then it snowed.
Cats & dogs.
Well, a lot of rain anyway.
So, on this discouraging day when I went out to milk, I could see that Chloe had given her udder a good crusting in mud and poo. Had I left her old straw and hay in the pen, that likely wouldn't have happened.
And a phrase came to mind.
No good deed goes unpunished.
I knew I had no business feeling sorry for myself but still, I had to wonder: what was I supposed to do with these feelings of frustration...that good deeds and good intentions were turning out unexpectedly?
In the situations I was stewing about, I didn't expect anything from those I had tried to honor.
I didn't expect the cow to thank me, much less keep her udder clean.
I didn't expect the recipient of God's blessing to thank me - in fact, that project was handled anonymously.
I didn't expect the loved one to fall over themselves with gratitude for what I do every day.
So why was I discouraged?
If you don't have a milk cow, let me just tell you that milking is the cure for what ails you. Usually, that is my time alone to talk to God...for Him to talk to me...for life to get straightened out in my brain. (My psychologist sister tells me that this is literally true!)
But, on this day. Nothing.
I mean, I couldn't make sense of my discouragement (well, to be honest, I chalked it up to hormones) so I decided to just let it go. Sometimes you're just misunderstood. Sometimes you misunderstand others. Sometimes the cow lays in poo.
As I led Chloe to her pasture I told God, "well, I still don't understand, Lord - but I'm letting it go." And then He replied. Not in, of course, an audible voice, but more and more I've begun to recognize the sweet prodding in my soul that comes from the Lord.
Have I told you about my Son?
I knew what He meant and we - that voice in my heart and - recalled the story.
He came to love people who didn't love Him. To offer salvation to people - even those who didn't want it. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He offered eternal life.
And the people He came to save murdered Him.
They didn't just kill Him. They mocked Him. They ridiculed Him. They taunted Him. They struck Him. They tortured Him. They laughed at Him.
They heaped offense upon offense.
If He was discouraged, He did not show it. He forgave. He tended to the needs at hand - the physical needs of His mother and the physical needs of a man with whom He died. And then, He did what He came to do - without complaint, and without ever appearing to feel sorry for Himself.
He offered up His Spirit to God and died.
He didn't have to say it - because I thought it. "Why is it that you're discouraged?"
Discouragement comes to us all. It's just the way of human life on this planet. But it's a tool of Satan. It distracts us from God's work and it causes us to focus on self rather than God.
Imagine if Jesus would have chosen to sink into discouragement.
Imagine if He would have allowed the misunderstanding others had of His words and actions to discourage Him from God's work and plan.
Imagine if He would have let the taunts dissuade Him from His mission.
Imagine if He would have just said, "never mind, Father - this isn't worth it anymore"?
Any time my eyes are anywhere but on God, my footsteps falter. Any time my eyes are on me, I fall off the path. Satan wanted me to be discouraged. He wanted me to feel sorry for myself. He wanted me to be angry at my loved one, and to let the words of someone else distract me from the work God had for me to do that day. He wanted my cow to be the the proverbial straw.
But Satan underestimates my God and how much He loves me.
I am so very grateful for a God willing to pick me up and dust me off when I falter. One who holds my hand and corrects my heart. I wish He had to do it less than He does - but I'm sure glad He still does.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)