The following is a message I sent to a friend in an email. I've re-read it and found it incredibly encouraging so I thought I'd share it with the whole world wide web (sans the more personal bits). May you find it as encouraging as I....
Woe is me, right? I am a man of unclean lips. My lips are unclean because my heart is desperately wicked and out of the overflow of my heart, my mouth speaks. How much hurt have I caused because I am too quick to assume? But, but, but...there's encouragement mixed in with the conviction, isn't there? We shouldn't judge all because we don't know all which should logically extend even to our own sin. Wicked and offensive as it may seem, we understand neither it's full depth nor it's full effect. Well, maybe there was a little more conviction, too. But there is encouragement because only God knows the depth and full effect of our sin.
Let's start with depth...filled with godly grief and repentance, we get a small glimpse of our true poverty and emptiness before God. Poverty leads to mourning over our sin, mourning to a selflessness and ultimately to a hunger and a thirst that only true righteousness can satisfy. Oh, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled; filled not for our own benefit but for the benefit of others that we may show mercy to those in trouble, live with integrity among a twisted generation, and act as peacemakers for those who are enemies of God and enemies of God's people. How's that for encouragement? Not only is there forgiveness but there is restitution. Wounded, we are dragged from the battle and healed so that we may again re-enter the fray.
But what about our flaming darts? Didn't they hit their mark? Yes and we should rightly mourn that fact but not as those who have no hope. As is always the case, what we clearly meant for evil, God always means for good. Surely there are better ways to plant and water, but the fact remains that it is God who gives growth so that neither the planter nor the one who waters may boast. It is not up to the branches to produce the fruit, but the vine to which the branches are attached and even fruit that is poorly conceived will be good fruit because it came from a good tree. Oh what good news to know that the burden of growth is not our's but God's. Oh what good news to know that God uses our best efforts and our worst to bring glory to himself and goodness to his people.
Thank you for bearing with my sermonette. This ended up being a lot longer than expected but I was about to send it and I thought "I'm kinda discouraged, this is kinda discouraging. There must be encouragement in there somewhere." This process has perhaps been the single most important bit of advice I've ever received. When I'm tempted to be discouraged, I talk to myself and say "Self, God is still on His throne and the Gospel is still good news. Here's how it applies to your funk." It's not magic and it's not a snake oil but like all good balms it will eventually work it's healing power.