GOD KNOWS MY DISCOURAGEMENT
In one of my favorite hymns “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” there is a line of the song that says:
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never stay discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
There have been many times in my life when I’ve been discouraged. When things have not gone the way I expected them to. Or especially when own stupidity or stubbornness has gotten me into some sort of mess. What does God want us to do when we get discouraged? How do we deal with discouragement?
Deja Vu… Deja Vu…
7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
John 21:7 (ESV)
Over the years I’ve read that over and over again and the same thought hits me every time… It’s no surprise Simon Peter reacts that way because this is Deja Vu for him. You see, before Simon Peter was a disciple, he was a fisherman. And one day he was fishing with his brothers and Jesus asks for some help. Jesus asks Simon Peter to take the boat out into deeper water and to let the nets down. But Simon Peter has a bit of an attitude problem.
5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Luke 5:5 (ESV)
Don’t you hate it when someone tells you how to do your job? Especially someone that isn’t even necessarily qualified to do your job? I don’t want to read too much into this verse but it seems that once again Simon Peter and his brothers haven’t caught anything and once again Jesus is telling them to try again. And so they do… and something unexpected happens…
6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Luke 5:6-7 (ESV)
Yep. John 21 isn’t the first time that Simon Peter has encountered the situation of fishing all night, catching nothing and then being told to try again. John 21 is Deja Vu for Simon Peter. So his reaction in Luke’s account of the first time it happened is strongly informative to Simon Peter’s actions in John 21, especially when Simon Peter does this:
8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken
Luke 5:8-9 (ESV)
You know people who have really messed up, people who have really blown it in their life sometimes pray a prayer like that. Discouraged people, often find themselves praying something like that. It’s the same kind of remorse that King David felt about the sin in his life. And people who have messed up in their lives don’t always want to pray that. But when you come face to face with the God of second chances you can’t help but pray what Simon Peter prays, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”
And Jesus says, “Yeah I know… I know the state that you’re in and I’ve got plans to help you. Plans the whole human race has been waiting for, for a long, ling time.” And Jesus then tells Simon Peter, “If you’re ready to experience a do-over I want to give you a new life. In fact, staring today I’m gonna have you start fishing for people. I’m gonna chance the whole direction, the whole philosophy of your life.”
It’s because of this encounter with Jesus at the beginning of their relationship that Simon Peter throws himself into the water once he knows it’s Jesus. I think that as Simon Peter hit the water he was instantly transported back to when he had first met Jesus and Jesus had seen Simon Peter’s discouragement and said, “You need a do-over.”
And some of us are just like Simon Peter… we’ve been fishing on the wrong side of the boat. We’ve been fishing for just a glimmer of hope in our families. Just a glimmer of hope in our financial future. Some of us are holding on to just a tiny, tiny bit of hope for our health and that doctor’s appointment we’ve got coming up. And I think Jesus is saying to us, what he said to Simon Peter. “I see your discouragement, but I’m here… keep trying. Keep fishing for hope. Because I can turn things around in an instant.”