Has Discouragement Dislodged You?

Guest speaker, Pr. Ivan Williams, shared special words at Florida Conference’s Spring Camp Meeting Saturday night, April 20, 2024. A lot of things could have stood out to me, but my ears perked up when I heard, “When Jesus joined them in their depression…” That created an interesting mental picture: Jesus walking with the disciples in their sadness; yet, strangely, they didn’t even recognize Him in their presence. I could actually feel the disciples’ disappointment and imagine the cloud of confusion hanging over their heads after losing their best friend. That part of the story hit close to home.

Then came the phrase, “When you’re going through…‘stuff’…” Stuff? I immediately heard my precious mother-in-law’s voice in the back of my head saying, “I’m so sick and tired of all this ‘shtuff’; I’m ready for Jesus to come and take us Home.” And, suddenly, I missed her, more than I do on most days. I felt the weight of our last goodbyes here on earth, and my heart became acutely aware of my increasing Homesickness and longing for reunions with those I love.

The next question from Pr. Williams couldn’t have been more fitting. “Where is God when it hurts? …When you deal with life issues and they smack you in the face…that’s when God shows up in your life.” I nodded. Oh, how true! He continued, “God will go anywhere to save His children.” In that moment, I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence, and tears surfaced as I imagined each of my children’s faces, wishing I could spare them from the collateral damage and pain they’re still suffering from their father’s and my divorce more than a decade ago.

Pr. Williams went on to counter my loss with these specific words. “When you’re going through a divorce…Jesus walks with you. …He shows up.” My heart felt exposed. Raw. Laid open for all to see; yet, I somehow felt like the only person in the room. Then the next question came. “Has discouragement dislodged you?”

Honestly? Yes. Yes it has. Despite my unwavering faith and tenacious grip on God’s promise to pull me through the unknown, I’ve been living a very discombobulated life for many years because of my less-than-ideal circumstances. You see, when you live under the constant barrage of verbal abuse—gaslighting, demeaning, belittling, being made fun of, one-upping, shaming, etc.—you end up living in a very small world. For control. For protection. For survival. You beg not to be seen, because that will only bring about questions and opportunities to be told you’re wrong and insignificant. So you become less than who God made you to be in order to fit into the tiny box someone else has nicely constructed for you, and you learn to become invisible, because being inconspicuous feels like the only way you’ll ever be able to remain safe.

If court battles, tangible threats, and stolen peace isn’t enough to turn a person’s life upside down, throw in a health challenge or two and you’ll find fighting discouragement the norm—at least that’s been the case for me. But, let’s get real. Who thinks about these things unless approached by the Holy Spirit in a safe environment like Camp Meeting or maybe even a trusted therapist’s office? So, there I sat, confronting how small I’d been living life my life, mulling over the fact that maybe the time had come for me to step out of the shadows and be seen again.

I don’t believe in coincidences. That’s why what happened next has had such a great impact on my life and spiritual walk with God moving forward. A few days after Camp Meeting, a story came into my Facebook feed. It shared how a woman took her young daughter to a water park. Being in the shallow end of the wave pool, she squatted to half her size to be on the girl’s level. This activity went on for quite some time. Finally, the girl decided she wanted to go to a different section of the pool where there would be more waves. The mom conceded, and soon they both found themselves being slapped around by the water on the other side of the pool. The continual pounding of the waves became very annoying, until the mom suddenly realized, “Hey, I’m an adult. I can stand up!” She had been down on her daughter’s level playing for so long she forgot the length and strength of her own legs. As she stood, the waves lost their power over her, and being tossed around became much less of an issue. As I came to the end of this story, I could hear Pr. Williams from Camp Meeting Saturday night asking, “Has discouragement dislodged you?”

I chuckled to myself, imagining all the waves in my life smacking me upside the head. “Guess I’m kind of like this mom,” I admitted. “Maybe it’s time I get back up on my feet.” I could feel a smile begin forming on my face as I heard God whispering to my heart, “Don’t be afraid. You won’t be doing this alone. I am right here with you!”

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2 Responses

  1. Jeanne Carlson says:

    Thank 💓 you, Lori, and God bless you. God has given you a gift for sure.
    You have given me a boost this morning during my devotions. I am so thankful that we know Jesus and what He has done for us. Have a blest day.

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