When reading the scripture that says that Christ “was in all points tempted as we are,” have you ever thought, “Yeah, right! He never went through the kind of discouragement that I am facing. He can’t know what it’s like!”?
You try your best to live God’s way and follow Him, and still negative things happen and drag you down. Maybe it’s a term paper you have slaved over for weeks, but you got a C on it since you weren’t blindly supportive of evolution. An artist I know, participating in a juried art show, was told by the head organizer that she definitely would have won a prize if she’d only been there Saturday when the judging was done.
Or maybe you faced the discouragement of seeing a close friend turn bad, despite your encouragement and good example. How could Christ sympathize with our modern difficulties? Would they seem trivial or irrelevant to Him? No.
When we make right choices in life out of respect for God, He takes notice. “For this is commendable , if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully… When you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God” (1 Peter 2:19-20 1 Peter 2:19-20 19 For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? but if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
American King James Version×, emphasis added).
So what is worth more in the long run, the commendation of your teacher, an art judge or friends—or the approval of God? You can take it patiently, in the right attitude, if you see the big picture and remember that God wants to reward you. Think of it as God giving you the chance to give Him good reasons to reward you.
Did Jesus ever face discouragement? Peter and the apostles disappointed Jesus numerous times; they were human. Picture an utterly perfect God Being humbling Himself to trudge dusty trails down here on earth as a man and preach to stiff-necked (obstinate) people.
A prophecy of Christ’s first coming says, “To Him whom man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors” (Isaiah 49:7 Isaiah 49:7Thus said the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose you.
American King James Version×). When Christ was despised, He had to look to God, remember His purpose in life and look forward to the reward promised Him of rulership in God’s Kingdom.
This same chapter gives us a glimpse into what Jesus faced when thousands acted like they would follow Jesus but only 120 remained faithful after three and a half strenuous years of preaching and miracles. “Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; yet surely my just reward is with the L ORD , and my work with my God’ ” (Isaiah 49:4 Isaiah 49:4Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.
American King James Version×).
So when we face discouragement, know that Christ did too. And He shows us the way out of it: look at the big picture, look to your reward! Then we can say, as Christ does in Isaiah 49:5 Isaiah 49:5And now, said the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.
American King James Version×, “For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the L ORD , and My God shall be My strength.” VT