It is discouragement which can also lead to hope deferred which "makes the heart sick", Proverbs 13:12.We don't have to go through some major trial to become discouraged. As I touched on before just our being weary of doing good can cause discouragement. It is discouragement which can also lead to hope deferred which "makes the heart sick", Proverbs 13:12. There are times where we perhaps do need to withdraw a little from activities and maybe even some friends to spend time waiting on the Lord. Retreats are ideal for this but for those to whom it is impossible to spend time at a retreat, a quiet room at home will do, as will walks in a park or countryside, anywhere that gives a degree of privacy to commune with God. Physical withdrawal alone is not the answer, for our refuge is not in a place but a person. We must also keep in mind the scripture where we are commanded:
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Withdrawal should never mean withdrawing from God. It is in these trying circumstances where we ought to in fact draw closer in communion with God and wait on Him.
"But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
As the above text shows our strength is then renewed so we are enabled to not only run and not be weary but even have the strength to get up! We can become so tired and weary that we cannot even muster the strength to move. Ground becomes fallow when in these situations we lose heart and become lax in seeking God. It is crucially important in these times to press into God even when we feel in life we can no longer run and press onwards. There may be seasons in a saint's life where she has been confined to the sick bed. These can be places of great spiritual blessing in communion with God. Two saints who come to mind are Jesse Penn Lewis and Amy Carmichael. Both drew their strength from God and went on to write about the deep things of God. You could tell through their writings they had been with Jesus!
Scripture also tells us that in the heat of the battle God hides us. In 1 Kings 17 the word of the Lord came to Elijah saying:
“Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” Verses 3-4
There Elijah was provided for and when the brook dried up, his source for water, the Lord, moved him on to a widow who would provide for him. Only the provision was not going to come from the widow but from God! The widow said to Elijah:
“As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Verse 12.
In Psalm 31 David seeks his refuge only in God. Not only is David's refuge in God alone but his trust also:
"IN YOU, O Lord, do I put my trust and seek refuge" Verse 1
In verse 20 he says:
"In the secret place of Your presence You hide them from the plots of men; You keep them secretly in Your pavilion from the strife of tongues.
What a verse of encouragement to those who are being persecuted. Who are the victims of not only their faith but jealousy, misunderstanding and false accusations. The rest of that Psalm is so encouraging I must go on to quote the rest:
"21 Blessed be the Lord! For He has shown me His marvelous loving favor when I was beset as in a besieged city.
22 As for me, I said in my haste and alarm, I am cut off from before Your eyes. But You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to You for aid.
23 O love the Lord, all you His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, and plentifully pays back him who deals haughtily.
24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!
The worst pain comes not from those who are our enemies but brothers and sisters in the Lord. As David says in Psalm 55:
12 "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.
13 But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.
14 We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng."
We cannot hide from them but we can seek our refuge in God, drawing strength from Him and the grace to move on. In a previous post I touched on Psalm 84 on the valley of Baca, meaning "weeping". David being chased by his enemy (the enemy being not a heathen but one of God's annointed!), was in hiding so could not join the other worshipers in pilgrimage to worship God. Instead David watched them from the valley of Baca and in His despair penned Psalm 84. Yet look at Gods bountiful provision in this valley!
If you are in pain, discouraged and/or weary as I have also been, let us today find our refuge and provision in God. May He alone be our hiding place.