‘DGU = NQ’, when decoded spells: ‘Don’t Give Up = Never Quit’. The rarely used verb enkakeo in the Greek New Testament is sometimes rendered ‘faint’ or ‘grow weary’ in the King James Version. My preferred translation, in the English Standard Version, could be coded ‘DNLH’, ‘Do Not Lose Heart’ emotional weariness, not mere physical tiredness.
Think of this. How many folk just keep going and never give up even when their heart is no longer in what they are doing? Maybe they don’t want to lose face, so by sheer grit they carry on. That is commendable, but not ideal. For instance: ‘I must stay in this adulterous marriage for the sake of the children,’ or ‘I can’t let my old father down, so I keep this struggling store open to customers.’ But it is best of all when we ‘do not lose heart’, for then we can feel motivated for any particular enterprise, however challenging.
There are four areas of potential disheartening indicated by either Paul or Jesus.
- Daily employment (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
‘Do not grow weary [lose heart] in doing good’. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 and you will see that some Thessalonian converts had quit their jobs and were indulging in ‘idleness’ as ‘busybodies’, dreaming of the return of Jesus any day soon. Paul quotes his own good role-modelling of repairing tents to earn his daily bread – as well as affording him opportunities to witness to other craftsmen and traders in the secular market place.
- Spoken testimony (2 Corinthians 4:1, 16)
‘We do not lose heart’, Paul assures his readers, even when we are mocked in our thoughtful witness to Jesus. Reading 2 Corinthians 4:7-16 reminds us that we can easily grow weary in our spoken testimony about the reality of Jesus’ involvement in our lives. Although Paul was ‘afflicted’, ‘perplexed’, ‘persecuted’ and ‘struck down’ in weakness, he reassured his spiritual children that he is ‘not crushed’, ‘driven to despair’, ‘forsaken’ or ‘destroyed’. Though his ‘outer self is wasting away’, he finds that his ‘inner self is being renewed day by day’ as he looks to the unseen Jesus. Let’s follow his example (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
- Empathising with a mentor who is under pressure (Ephesians 3:13)
‘I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you.’ Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 3:7-13 helps us to realise that the setbacks experienced by our shepherds and teachers can tempt us to be discouraged. But ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ and ‘the manifold wisdom of God’ act as a perfect antidote to losing heart.
- Prayers still unanswered (‘always …pray and not lose heart,’ Luke 18:1)
Absorb Luke 18:1-7 to remind yourself that prayer can be a war of attrition with the devil. An ancient lych gate in a Derbyshire churchyard had been allowed to bang shut after each user had passed through, sending shockwaves through the brickwork till one more careless visitor was shocked when the archway suddenly collapsed behind him. Satan would prefer that we didn’t bang on about any issue in prayer, so he tries to dishearten us by delaying God’s answer. * Read Isaiah 40:27-31 again and remind yourself that God ‘does not faint or grow weary’ and, when even fit youths ‘fall exhausted’, ‘they who wait for the Lord shall … not be weary’ or ‘faint’.