A beacon for me when I'm feeling discouraged is a man I once knew who brought an institution out of deep financial trouble. He had a way of finding open doors regardless of the circumstances. He never gave in to discouragement.
It can be hard when you don't make the team you had your heart set on, you weren't accepted at the college you really wanted to attend, or didn't get the job you wanted. Maybe someone you really like doesn't like you back.
But there's always an open door to God's goodness if you sincerely seek it.
The Bible's story about how Isaac dealt with a major roadblock in his life has helped me when I've felt discouraged and needed to feel in my heart that there is enough good to go around.
When Isaac found himself in the middle of a famine, he asked God what to do. He felt God's direction to stay in a city called Gerar, where he became a successful businessman. But the people in the area began to envy him and wanted to make things miserable for him. They threw dirt into all the wells that the servants of his father, Abraham, had dug, clogging them up. Finally, they told him to just get out.
He and his servants started digging the wells again. When they found water, the herdsmen of Gerar started fighting against Isaac, telling him that the water belonged to them. Isaac didn't fight back, but instead dug another well, which they fought over also.
Finally he dug a third well, and the fighting stopped. Isaac named the well "Rehoboth," which means "wide-open spaces," and he said, "For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land" (Gen. 26:22).
I love the idea that in digging the wells Isaac actually opened up greater supply for others as well as for himself, although it didn't appear that way at the time.
Later that night God said to Isaac, "I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed" (Gen. 26:24). God promised Isaac that he would take care of his life.
What can you do when everything feels blocked, and discouragement is overwhelming? Isaac didn't let obstruction stop him. He didn't blame God, himself, or others. Each time Isaac dug another well, it was as though he was acknowledging the ever-present flow of good that he knew was rightfully his. I believe Isaac must have been confident that there was a perpetual source, Spirit, the only Creator, supplying abundance, freshness, and possibility, and that source could never be clogged. In this wide-open space of thought, there was nothing to fear.
When I was in college, I decided to apply to another school. When I received a letter that I was on the waiting list, my spirit sank. I realized that I could see this as a possible dead end, or I could use this time to see the good that was present now in my life.
Several years earlier, I had begun reading and studying a book called "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper. I found some passages there that helped me pray, such as: "God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more?... Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept?" (page 2). I prayed, not to know more about what was going to happen, but to know that God just being Love was enough for me, no matter what happened.
Some days were better than others, but joy replaced discouragement. After about six months, I received a letter saying that I had been accepted at the school.
Even if we feel discouraged, that can never clog the wide-open space of goodness God provides in our lives.
...Love wipes your tears all away,
And will lift the shade of gloom,
And for you make radiant room
Midst the glories of one endless day.
Mary Baker Eddy