Discouragement and Humiliation
Isaiah the prophet spoke through the millennia to me today. I had been praying in the morning, asking God if He had hidden his face from me. I was feeling quite discouraged and humiliated by memories of past behavior that keep tormenting me.
I was being hammered with thoughts of inadequacy, or ever being good enough to be a true member of his family; that I was deceiving myself. Some of my earliest memories are of my older brother telling me I was not his brother, that I was found by my parents so I better watch myself or they would take me to an orphanage and leave me there. For many years beginning at about 5 years old I was terrified I would be abandoned, that I really didn’t belong. Growing up, physical and verbal abuse from my father, brothers, sister and some others reinforced a deep seated fear of rejection. I have realized with the help of others that this lie is at the root of my trouble deep down fully trusting God accepts me.
At the end of my prayer I asked God if I was a Cain or Esau (Romans 9:11-13) whom He hated before he was even born. That instant, I recalled
Gen 4:6: if you do what is right, will you not be accepted
I didn’t find this particularly encouraging because I went negative thinking I am a Cain, and things didn’t go well for him.
Not being in a good place, I was entertaining thoughts that since maybe I was in God’s bad books, I may as well stop trying so hard. Why be miserable now if I am not going to be accepted in the end anyway [foolish lie]. I prayed earnestly for wisdom and understanding but to be honest, I didn’t think I would get an answer. I was discouraged and humiliated.
Shortly after praying, I started to read the bible on my computer and came upon Isaiah 57, in particular Isaiah 57:15, 17 and I thought Isaiah was speaking directly to me.
“I dwell in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated.”
“I was angry because of their sinful greed; I attacked them and angrily rejected them, yet they remained disobedient and stubborn.” NET
I didn’t use the words “discouraged” and “humiliated” because they are in the text, or they generally described how I was feeling. Those were the exact words describing my state at the time. Remarkably the second verse highlighted my exact poor attitude. God could not be any clearer in His warning against hardening my heart, or more timely in His encouragement.
Hearing From God
So let me encourage you, if you want to hear from God you have to be honest in your prayer, and you need to read His email. In other words you need to read the bible on a regular basis. His prophets of old are our prophets today. Isaiah hit me right between the eyes, and was right on the money.
In my experience God doesn’t just fix things in the background like Microsoft or Apple. He shows us where we need to change then we need to apply what we have learned to our lives. We can’t do that if we are not LISTENING! (reading his word to us)
God convicted me when I read the same reaction exhibited by the Israelites in vs 17. At that point I had a choice to continue in my own stubborn disobedience as they did, or not. The result was repentance, which is a synonym for obedience. repentance isn’t sorrow or regret for past actions, repentance is a decision to change your attitude and future behavior.
Human desire, needs and behaviors have not changed since Isaiah’s day. The attitudes undergirding disobedience today is no different than that of Cain, Moses, David or Judas. That is why the word of God was relevant then, is still relevant in 2019 and always will be.
Hebrews 4:12-13; For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Ecclesiastes 1:9-10; What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
Be careful when you think God is speaking as many have ruined their lives misapplying scripture meant for the hearer to their own lives. Why do I believe God was speaking to me?
- He exulted only himself and received praise
- He exposed sin that lead to repentance
- The message was encouraging and corrective, not condemning
- It didn’t contradict established received scripture
Condemnation vs Correction
I had been encouraged and rebuked, and I found both encouraging because with the rebuke came wisdom and understanding, not condemnation. Satan condemns, God corrects.
Hebrews 12:5-8; My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives
Romans 8:1; There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
After I accepted my guilt and repented of the selfishness and acknowledged my stubborn arrogance, I saw these verses of encouragement.
Isaiah 57:16; “I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me, the very people I have created.” NIV
Isaiah 57:18; “I have seen their behavior, but I will heal them and give them rest, and I will once again console those who mourn. I am the one who gives them reason to celebrate. complete prosperity is available both to those who are far away and those who are nearby, says the Lord, and I will heal them.”
Be encouraged, we are all guilty in God’s eyes but He is loving and merciful, understanding our weakness and waiting for us to call out to Him for help, wisdom and guidance.
Psalm 103:13-14; As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust
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