Ellen White received a letter from a dear friend who was greatly discouraged because her failures were constantly before her. Yet, before she had a chance to reply, she had a dream as to why this lady was feeling the way that she did. In the dream they were both walking through a garden. Ellen was following the guide while picking the flowers, enjoying the general ambience of the place. Her friend however was visibly distressed, not following the guide but instead was amongst the thorns. She bemoaned the fact that there were so many thorns in this garden, completely ignoring the beauty and delight before her. Upon hearing this the guide stopped, turned, and said “Let the thorns alone, for they will only wound you. Gather the roses, the lilies, and the pinks.” SC117
In other words, contrary to what you may believe or presently experience, there is plenty of good about you. The thing is, if you’re looking for the good, you’ll find it andif you’re looking for discouragement, you’ll find it too. Every one of our lives paints a picture of God to those around us. Either that is a good picture or a bad one. One of hope and victory or one of discouragement and gloom.
“If we do represent Christ, we shall make His service appear attractive, as it really is. Christians who gather up gloom and sadness to their souls, and murmur and complain, are giving to others a false representation of God and the Christian life. They give the impression that God is not pleased to have His children happy, and in this they bear false witness against our heavenly Father.” SC 116
Remember the story of Elijah’s discouragement, when threats from the most devoted Baal worshipper against his life causes him, the most devoted Yahweh worshipper, to run for his life. For the first time Elijah runs from and not towards the battle. “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” 1 Kings 19:4.
This shows us that even the strongest and most seasoned Christians can fall into pits of despair, where hope evaporates and joy ceases. But please know that Elijah did not need to be in this situation. This situation and his attitude was one of his own choosing. Because nothing breeds discouragement more than dwelling upon discouragement. Just as nothing breeds hope more than being hopeful. If we are constantly focusing on disappointments, then we will naturally become disappointed.
Yet, God has a remedy for Elijah and this remedy is for us too. In v15 God reminds Elijah of his mission and gets him to focus on that instead of himself. This is because discouragement often comes from looking at ourselves and not looking at Jesus and His work. For if we were ready to pick up our cross and follow Him, we’d soon find our discouragement vanish and a clear path before our feet. Less of us and more of Him is the remedy for any discouragement.
Choose to see the roses and forget the thorns.