Has life got you down? Does it seem like it’s one problem after another? Are you merely trying to survive? Join us this week as we learn from the life of Elijah just what to do when we get discouraged.
Heroes of Faith: Elijah
What To Do When You Are Discouraged
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – April 2nd, 2017
- Life sometimes feels like a series of one problem after another, and it can wear us down. Not that you are doing anything wrong, you’re just worn out. Even the best of us can get discouraged and want to be done with it all. Elijah was no different.
- His story starts in 1 Kings chapter 17. The backstory is as follows: David’s reign ended and the kingship passed to David’s son Solomon. Solomon was the wisest man who had ever lived and Israel experienced a golden age of prosperity and prominence in the world. The wisdom of Solomon has been written down in the book of Proverbs. He also wrote the philosophical book of Ecclesiastes. Even though Solomon was very wise, he still had a weakness (like his father) when it came to women and he was led astray by them to follow and worship foreign Gods. The Kingdom was turned over to Solomon’s son Rehoboam, who was an unwise and self-centered king, and 10 tribes left and chose for themselves a king – Jeroboam. There was fighting between these two kingdoms and a series of kings reigned. And there were also prophets speaking from God to these kings.
- A man named Ahab became King who “did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (I Kings 16:33). Ahab was married to a woman named Jezebel who was even worse than he was. It was during the reign of this king that Elijah was alive and doing the work God assigned him to do. It was a very difficult time, and he was given a very difficult task.
- Elijah told the king that there was going to be no dew or rain for three years, except by his word. He then hid by a brook, and the ravens fed him until the brook dried up. Then he was led to a town where he met a widow with a son, and God miraculously fed them through a never-ending jar of flower and jug of oil. When the widow’s boy died, Elijah raised him to back to life.
- In the meantime, Ahab and Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord and they were hunting Elijah. Elijah came out of hiding and had a standoff with the King and the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah (who were supported and supplied by Jezebel). He then had a competition to find out who the real God was . . . God sent fire, the people saw that the Lord is God and kill all the false prophets. Elijah then goes up to a mountain top to pray for rain, and the Lord sends rain on the land.
- Ahab goes home to tell his wife Jezebel what happened, she is livid and vows to kill Elijah within 24 hours. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life to another city. He then went another day’s journey into the wilderness by himself. When he sat down under a broom tree, he said this:
1 Kings 19:4 ESV
And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
- Elijah had been faithfully doing his job and fulfilling his calling. He had some difficult situations to overcome, battles to be fought, and he won some great victories, saw the Lord do some amazing things, gained ground and survived. And yet it was one thing after another, a never-ending parade of problems and difficulties. He was bone tired, soul weary, feeling like a failure and he just wanted to be done with it all . . . you ever been in this place? Are you in this place now?
- Now we are going to talk about what to do when you are discouraged and worn out, and where you can find strength to go on.
Gain strength by resting
1 Kings 19:5-8 ESV
And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
- The first thing you need to do when you are depleted and weary is to get away to physically rest. God did not give him a lecture or a pep talk- he ministered to his physical needs.
- Eat and sleep, sleep and eat – for the journey is too great for you.
Gain strength by meeting with God
1 Kings 19:9-11 ESV
There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
- Get away, pray, listen and learn. This is intentional and specific – not in passing: he made a point of it – he went away to pray.
- Tell him what is happening, what you are thinking and what you are feeling.
1 Kings 19:11-13 ESV
And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
- When you meet with Him, don’t just seek the power of God, but seek the person of God. If you get the person of God, you get the power of God, but if you just want the power of God, you will miss the person of God. Jesus talked to us about people who just wanted the power of God:
Matt 7:22-23 ESV
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
- Never stop just receiving from him, but wait long enough to actually know God will give to those who ask, but he only knows those who wait for Him and walk with Him.
Gain strength by gaining clear direction
- Elijah prayed once, waited for God, prayed again and then he gained clear direction
1 Kings 19:15-16 ESV
And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.
- Elisha’s clear direction was to put Godly leaders into place and find, train your successor. Make sure you finish well. Define what that looks like (per counsel and from scripture)
- Having a direction gives us energy, being directionless drains our energy. Being lost or just spinning your wheels drains us of time, energy, motivation and enthusiasm.
- Hearing from the Lord – Light and Truth (Psalm 43), wisdom, waiting, open doors, peace, conformation and counsel.
Gain strength by knowing you are not alone
1 Kings 19:18 ESV
Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.
- Elijah thought and felt like he was the only one left who was serving God. God told him there were many more who were serving Him.
- Don’t think you are the only one alone in your struggles. You are never alone! Others are with you in this. Read about people in the past and what they did, learn about people in the present. These people will give you strength. (Biographies, documentaries, voice of the martyrs, relationships, travels, etc.) Luiz
- Here is what to do when you are discouraged (you must be intentional)
- Find strength by resting
- Find strength by meeting with God
- Find strength by gaining clear direction
- Find strength by knowing you are not alone
Questions for the ride home:
- What did God communicate to you from the service today?
- What step(s) are you going to take to move forward from where you are now? Write them down and do whatever it takes to make it happen.
- What can you do to strengthen others along their journey? Make a difference in someone’s life this week.