More often than not, many people find themselves thinking that they are all that’s left of a moral society. I hear on a daily basis, at least one of these… “What’s wrong with people?,” “Our nation is going down the drain,” “There’s no honest people anymore,” or “I just don’t know what will happen to the country in the hands of these kids nowadays!,” Well… people today are not the first to feel this way!
First off, how does one begin to offer encouragement to such a mindset? Well, we begin by convincing these individuals that they are not alone! In Acts 18, Paul faced a major challenge on the missionary journey to Corinth. Surrounded by idolatry and sexual immorality, the message of Christ met much opposition. It was a difficult task, but the Lord assured him that He had ‘many people in the city.’ He let Paul know there were other believers there. He was to keep preaching, and the Lord wouldn’t let them harm him.
We see a similar story in 1 Kings 19, when Elijah thought that he was the only one left who obeyed God, and that the children of Israel wanted to kill him. The Lord tells Elijah he had some 7,000 reserved who had not bowed their knee to Baal. Now… Elijah who was very close to God, took part in the destruction of 400 prophets of Baal and seeing the fire sent down fire from heaven, was fed by ravens, raised up a widow’s son, confronts the king with a message of the drought (not even dew would touch the ground…and it didn’t). My goodness, even Elijah thought he was the only one left!
It’s an impressive thought to me that someone of Elijah’s status could feel so lonely, yet God still had 7,000 that had not bent their knee to Baal, wow! Who are we to think God has left us helpless, in a world with no hope and a depressing future?
We are not alone. All too often we just neglect to fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, which opens the door to discouragement. We are not to strive in this world alone. But, we also need to be careful of who, and what, we surround ourselves with. This may not always be an easy task, but we must discipline ourselves to balance out what we are exposed to on a daily basis.
Paul instructed the believers in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to “Comfort yourselves together, and edify one another.” We all need encouragement, and we must do our part as well to build up others, who are striving in these difficult times.
Now, in regard to Paul and Elijah, the Lord revealed Himself to them, yes… but, doesn’t He speak to us through His Word still today? God’s Word does not change, it is not outdated, and it is the foundation of a life in Christ. Spending time in this Word, and with others who read, know, and believe it, is what we need for a fruitful, Christian walk.
Don’t get down hearted or discouraged, and don’t think you’re in a hopeless minority! We are instructed to endure to the end. Be careful not to assume the role of a victim, be a victor, God is on the throne! He is the author and finisher of our faith, so we must not give up, nor give in. Surround yourself with believers as often as possible, encourage others, and always remember, you are not alone!
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is the pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg. This is the sermon she delivered this past Sunday.