Encouragement from a self-mutilating Methodist pastor and painter

Vincent van Gogh said, “In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing” I can’t figure out if Vincent uttered these words before or after his ear-chopping. What I do know, and what many don’t know, is that Vincent was a minister in the Methodist church before leaving that occupation to focus on his art. Another thing I know…discouragement and pastoring seem to go hand in hand.

Be careful whenever you find yourself discouraged because discouragement is a pivotal time, it will turn you either bitter or better. You can choose the direction you take.

Remember Paul’s words in II Cor. 12:9,10 “…I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Do you feel weak due to discouragement? Present these feelings as a sacrifice to the Lord. Don’t try to hide them or hold them in…release them, accept them, boast about them. Break their power off of you by embracing, as you would embrace a friend, the very thing that is causing discouragement. I know this sounds crazy, I know it sounds simplistic. It is simple, and let there be no mistake about it, just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s not difficult.  It will take time and practice to learn how to allow discouragement to make you a better person rather than a bitter person. You will fail while learning. Be ok with that. Here’s a few suggestions for how to begin.

1. Admit to yourself and to God if you are discouraged. If you are bitter…admit it all.

2. Repeat this prayer over and over again, “Lord, I am discouraged. I thank you for my discouragement because your word says that when I am weak, then I am strong.”

3. The next opportunity you have to put on a good front to someone, instead, humble yourself and tell them, “I’m pretty discouraged right now. But the bible says that when I am weak, then I am strong. Paul boasted about his weaknesses and I’m trying to learn to do the same. Pray for me.”

4. Email me today, right now! Tell me what’s discouraging you. Brag to me about your weakness. I’ll rejoice with you and pray for you and together we’ll see you break the power of discouragement. You’ll be amazed at what a release you’ll feel just by telling someone. I know from experience.

Let me repeat again the words of our one-eared friend, “In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing” Keep drawing.

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