16Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day. -2 Corinthians 4:16 (AMP)
The cowardly lion was my least favorite of the “good guy” characters in the movie the Wizard of Oz. He was whiny, wimpy, complained all of the time and had an irritating habit of twisting his tail. He was a big baby that was constantly hiding behind everybody else when faced with trouble. Along the trip down the yellow brick road, he seemed to drag everyone down with the weight of his despair.
Along the journey to Oz, the “lion” was more of a burden. He wanted to go the distance, within the confines of the group, but lacked the courage to benefit them. He sapped their energy, strength and oftentimes their ability to focus. He needed constant reassurance, support and yes, encouragement. Why? He was in pursuit of “courage”.
Here was this lion: greater than anything else, King of the Jungle, beast of beasts, larger than life, by all appearances, reduced to a beaten kitten. How could he not see this? He was a lion for goodness sake. That is what he was created to be. Why didn’t he know it?
As Christians today, are we in danger of setting this image before a lost and dying world. What hope do they see as we tell them we are Children of the Most High God? Do they observe a confident Bride of Christ as we are faced with the daily ordeals of this life? Do they see the overcoming faith that we claim to have when the persecutions come?
Or do they see a shell of what we declare to be? A so called, Conqueror in Christ, twisting our tail while we run in circles? Wasting away, utterly spiritless, exhausted and wearied out through fear?
Paul, in today’s Scripture was writing to the Corinthian church based on his own ministry and walk. He was speaking of the pressures and liabilities of what the Apostles were facing in the spreading of the Gospel. He wasn’t sugar-coating the ministry or what servant hood to Christ represented. In fact, he was excruciatingly honest in his sharing. And the sum basis of this chapter is...in spite of.
Jesus Himself offered words of encouragement for our lives in this world:
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] –John 16:33
Are we supposed to build up and encourage one another along our journey? Absolutely, we are to support one another in spirit and truth. The truth is that trial and tribulations have to be faced in this life. You can take as many detours as you like, but detours are simply another route to the same destination.
Did you notice on the course of the troupe’s excursion to Oz, no matter how much encouraging the other did, the lion just didn’t “get it”? Was it because Dorothy lacked sympathy? Did Scarecrow not have the right words because he thought he didn’t have a brain? Did the Tin Man not have enough heart to share in the lion’s pain? NO! They were all in the same boat. They were desperately seeking for something they already had.
Their problem was that they were encouraging one another in their lack. They were in agreement with one another on what they didn’t have. The road to Oz was the detour, chocked full of obstacles to help them see they already had what they were searching for.
Everyone except Dorothy of course, she just wanted to go home. That was a destination she had to believe in her heart to attain.
Discouragement of the trials we face can only gain victory if we lose our focus. If we take our eyes off of Jesus, His words and His promises we are in danger. We become like today’s Scripture, utterly spiritless, exhausted and worried out through fear. We become tail twisting, cowardly lions acting like beaten kittens: a mere shell of an appearance of who we truly are.
A lion without his roar is really nothing. We belong to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. So although we may be pressed in on every side, cramped, embarrassed or perplexed, do not despair! Don’t give into the discouragement. The Lion hasn’t lost His roar and your true life is hidden in Him!