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Down In The Dumps?

If so, think of Paul in prison possibly awaiting execution. He had only one friend near him, his doctorcolleague, Luke. Others had forsaken him (2 Tim. 4:16). How lonely was he? He pleaded with Timothy to come to him without delay, and to bring Mark too (v.11). Depressed? No, for he intended to remain busy in the cold, dank jail. That is why he requested of

Timothy: "The cloke that I left at ....... bring when thou comest, and the hooks, especially the parchments".

The attitudes of others, such as Demas and Alexander, must not hinder Paul in his desire to get on with the tasks the Lord had given to him. The Lord and His work must come first. Paul indicates here his answer to depression caused by circumstances

over which we have no control. Carry on with your work for the Lord irrespective of outside forces, or those within, which would hinder or discourage. How is this possible?" The Lord stood by me, and strengthened me", says Paul (v.17), indicating that the same divine power which saved us also enables us to overcome discouragement. It is "no longer I, but Christ" (Gal. 2:20). How often we need to be reminded of this basic truth.

Let us consider another example where Giant Despair could have taken control so easily. Samson, God's once mighty servant, finds himself in prison, blind and apparently helpless. What an end to a life that had known such power and blessing, as well as failure and despair. The man who once cried triumphantly: "I have smitten a thousand men" (Judges 15:16) becomes a helpless victim. Sightless, he appears as a beast of burden, grinding out wheat and corn in degrading captivity. What ignominy and shame for an Israeli judge! Samson may have felt depressed, deluded, deserted, and despairing, but God was not far from His servant. We can assume many quiet times of confession and forgive-

ness would be experienced by God's sightless servant. They are surely evidenced by these encouraging words: "Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again" (16:22). This symbol of returned strength was confirmed in his prayer: "0 Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once" (v.28). God enabled San~~n to bring the house of Dagon. crashing down, ending Samson's 20 year rule as an Israeli judge with triumph and honour.

In tirnes of discouragement and despair let us cast off indolence, and those feelings and moods of defeat, weakness, helplessness, and claim positively this promise: "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57). John Newton adds this further encouragement:

Let us rejoice in Christ the Lord,

Who makes our cause His own;

The hope that's built upon His Word

Can ne'er be overthrown.

Weak as we are we shall not faint,

Or fainting, shall not fail;

Jesus, the strength of every saint,

For ever must prevail.