How easy it is to get discouraged. Some days all I have to do is turn on the television, and I’m bombarded by evidence of senseless violence, unchecked corruption, and blatant self-aggrandizement. Sometimes, in spite of my best efforts to find the silver lining, I simply feel like giving up. I slog through the day with one thought pounding in my brain: What’s the point?
The people who lived during the prophet Malachi’s lifetime understood this frustration. They asked God what good it did them to be obedient when they saw no evidence that their obedience was being rewarded. They complained that “everyone who does wrong is successful, and when they put God to the test, they always get away with it” (Malachi 3:15 CEV).
They’re basically asking God why the good guys finish last. Isn’t that the way it seems sometimes? But God has a different perspective, and in this passage, God provides his people with the answer to their question and the avenue through which to find comfort.
His answer is definitive: “You people are precious to me, and when I come to bring justice, I will protect you, just as parents protect an obedient child” (vs. 17). We find hope in this promise.
God does not forget us, nor does he turn a blind eye to our faithfulness. He stands with us through the difficult times and will shelter us through every trial. His work in us and in the world is long-term, so we dare not lose heart in the short-term.
The apostle Paul puts it this way: “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NRSV). Perseverance is key, but we can’t manage that on our own.
We need encouragement and support from others who understand what we’re going through. Malachi gives us a glimpse at how to do that as well. The scripture tells us that “all those who truly respected the Lord and honored his name started discussing these things” (vs. 16).
Understanding comes through meeting together and sharing our burdens. Facing discouragement alone rarely lightens the load. It’s in the embrace of other believers that we find hope for the day and strength for the journey.
So if you’re struggling with discouragement today, don’t lose hope. Take comfort in God’s promises and find reassurance with friends whose hearts delight in the Lord.
*Read more in Malachi 3:13-18.