Denison Forum – Mega Millions tops $1 billion and the so-called Respect for Marriage Act: Two ways to deal with discouragement

No one won last night’s Mega Millions drawing, which had a jackpot of $830 million, the fourth-largest in US history. As a result, the grand prize in Friday night’s drawing is now an estimated $1.02 billion, though that number is certain to grow as more tickets are bought ahead of the drawing.

If you bought a ticket but didn’t win last night, consider this: your odds of winning were one in 302.5 million. By contrast, consider your odds of experiencing the following:

  • Having identical quadruplets: one in fifteen million
  • Becoming an astronaut: one in twelve million
  • Being struck by lightning: one in ten million
  • Being crushed by a meteor: one in seven hundred thousand
  • Becoming an Olympic athlete: one in five hundred thousand

Some discouragements are just part of life, but others reframe life. Consider the so-called Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) that has passed the House and is now before the Senate. It would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and require the federal government to recognize any marriage if it is legally performed in any of the fifty states.

Why is this bill so discouraging?

One: If a single state recognizes polygamy as legal marriage, the federal government would be required to do the same, making polygamy the long-expected next domino to fall as marriage continues to be redefined and corrupted. Since a town in Massachusetts has already done this, and the state of Massachusetts was the first to recognize same-sex marriage in 2004, such a scenario seems more plausible than ever.

Two: The RMA goes much further than the 2015 Obergefell decision by focusing on the LGBTQ community and thus rendering marriage genderless. As John Stonestreet notes, “This will harm children and further confuse reality.”

Three: The RMA has no provisions whatever for conscience protections. Legal actions against florists, cake makers, wedding chapels, and others who stand for biblical marriage will undoubtedly continue.

“Those who seek the Lᴏʀᴅ lack no good thing”

We have focused this week on finding victory over temptation and doubt. Today, let’s discuss discouragement.

Our first response should be to expect it. Challenges and setbacks are part of life, even (and sometimes especially) for people of faith.

In Psalm 34, David testified: “Those who seek the Lᴏʀᴅ lack no good thing” (v. 10). However, verse 18 adds, “The Lᴏʀᴅ is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Apparently, we can still be “brokenhearted” and “crushed” even though God is “near” us.

Verse 19 captures this tension: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lᴏʀᴅ delivers him out of them all.” While God’s timeline may not be ours, the ultimate outcome is beyond doubt: “The Lᴏʀᴅ redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned” (v. 22).

We know how the story ends, but not when. In the meantime, discouragement is part of life.

“Rejoice in the Lord always”

Our second response should be to seek the joy of Jesus no matter our circumstances.

Paul wrote the letter of Philippians while in prison to a city where he had been imprisoned. Nonetheless, he could exhort his readers: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

“Rejoice” is a present-tense imperative, an ongoing command without conditions or qualifications. While happiness depends on happenings, spiritual joy (the essence of “rejoice”) transcends our circumstances. No matter where we are, we can rejoice “in the Lord”—the phrase means to be intimately, deeply connected to our Master and King.

The darker the room, the more urgent the light. If discouragement has weakened your desire to be with God, this means your spiritual eyes have become adjusted to the dark. In this case, the less you want to be with God, the more you need to be with God.

(For more on the transformative power of meeting God in his word, please see my latest website article, “Where to see a $43 million copy of the US Constitution.”)

“Strength I find to meet my trials here”

There is more to say, so we’ll conclude this discussion tomorrow. For today, let’s close with a remarkable story that caught my eye recently.

Karolina Sandell-Berg (1832–1903) lived a life filled with heartbreak and hope. She was stricken at an early age with partial paralysis but was miraculously healed at the age of twelve. In gratitude, she began writing verses of praise to God and published her first book of spiritual poetry at the age of sixteen.

Ten years later, she was on a boat trip with her father, a Lutheran minister, when he fell overboard and drowned in her presence. Her hymns became even deeper and more heartfelt in the years to come. She wrote over six hundred hymns in total.

She married in 1867, but their only child died at birth. She became ill with typhoid fever in 1892 and died eleven years later. And yet, through all her discouragements, Karolina could testify in perhaps her most famous hymn:

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what he deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest. 

Will you trust your Father’s “wise bestowment” today?

Denison Forum

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