This last weekend at Willow, Pastor Dave used the classic 1946 movie It’s A Wonderful Life as a jumping-off point to discuss a really important topic: dealing with discouragement.
I love what the angel says in the opening scene as the junior ranking angel, Clarence, says, “There’s a lot of people concerned about George Bailey; is he sick?”
“No, worse. He’s discouraged.”
Discouragement corrodes the hope of our souls and can lead to disillusionment and despair. We start to wonder if our ordinary lives doing ordinary things that feel so insignificant really matters. Like George Bailey, we can become so discouraged that we want to give up.
So, is there an area in your life where you feel discouraged? Where are you asking secret questions about your value, worth, and purpose? Are you wondering if your life matters at all? Or if the ordinary simplicity of your moments has really left any impact?
In Luke 2, we see an ordinary moment become an extraordinary one:
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
God mercifully gives parents nine months to prepare for the arrival of a baby. Mary and Joseph had been preparing for the arrival of this baby, and I imagine it was tempting for Joseph to wonder if his efforts were enough. The newborn Messiah deserved a palace and royal robes. Surely these cloths and this ramshackle barn aren’t sufficient. I wonder if Joseph felt like a failure or if this mattered at all?
Interestingly, the most ordinary, common components of the birth of Jesus—funeral cloths and a feeding trough—were the very things that were anointed to be signs for shepherds. Shepherds wouldn’t have been able to enter a palace. The fact that Jesus was born in the most ordinary place made him accessible.
This makes me think that maybe God can take my discouragement–my “doesn’t feel good enough, but I’m doing my best moments” and use them for the most extraordinary purposes.
Your life has more impact than you realize. Your ordinary acts of kindness, of service, of simply making the world a little bit better than you found it matters far more than you can know. Like Clarence said about George Bailey, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Our lives are made in these small hours. Keep showing up in the smallest of ways, doing the next right thing, and trust that this world would look different for the lesser if you were not here.
Merry Christmas. He has come for us. Amen.