Today, I found myself lost in reflective thought in a rather unusual place. I was on an old, largely disused, overgrown dirt track nestled with a distinct rightward skew between two rather large hills or small mountains, depending on your view of the world. Tall guinea grasses spilled over both edges of the narrow road. The world seemed impossibly green in the early afternoon sunlight, which the leaves reflected in mesmerizing golden glints as the cool tropical breeze blew them to and fro. As I watched their hypnotic dance, my mind slowly drifted back to yesterday’s post on stumbling blocks and the thing that had been silently gnawing on my subconscious surfaced. It wasn’t an “aha!” moment. The green waves were too serene for so jolting a reaction. It was more like the dawn, or a slow tide drawing away the water to reveal something that had always been lurking just beneath the surface.
“Why is discouragement not a stumbling block?” my subconscious urged.
“Why doesn’t discouragement matter?”
As the tide receded, I recalled a piece of wisdom gifted to mankind by King Solomon:
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Discouragement doesn’t matter because you don’t actually matter, well, not as much as you think you do anyway. Discouragement and stumbling blocks work by attempting to prevent you from attempting a particular course of action. This is predicated on the assumption that you and your skill, intellect, brawn or other personal attributes are inherently central to the outcome of your endeavours. Is this really so?
I sat down one day and opened up Paint in Windows. Not some fancy version, just the regular default Windows Paint application. I used my trackpad, not even a mouse, and drew a series of imprecise lines in the shape of a dog. Then I went wild with the colours and patterns. I called the resulting masterpiece, “Patchwork Doggy.” Patchwork Doggy apparently appealed to a few people worldwide and someone even liked it enough to purchase a print for their interior decor. Meanwhile, a quick search for “fine art” will turn up lots of people with great talent and expensive degrees, high-end apps and gadgets complaining that their work hasn’t sold. How do you account for this in a world where good advice tells you that your work is not “good enough” for prime time? How do you stay encouraged when critics tell you “you’re not quite ready” or “your work isn’t commercial enough” or whatever else the self-proclaimed guardians of the gates tell people?
Psalm 1 tells us plainly why discouragement and people’s opinions, however “expert,” don’t matter.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”
“and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
That’s right. Keep away from ungodly counsel, delight yourself in the Lord and WHATSOEVER you do in His will shall prosper. Do your part and you have an iron-clad guarantee.
The next time you run, or fall, into discouragement, get on your knees and ask God for guidance. If you’re working within His will for your life, you’re going to succeed. If you’re out of His will, time and chance will work for or against you.
As for the discouragers,
They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.
The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.