Some of the greatest men and women of faith battled discouragement.
The fact that Billy Graham was discouraged at times makes me feel better.
Biblical giants also experienced discouragement. One of them was Elijah.
He ran into the desert and sat under a broom tree. (1Kings 19)
“I have had enough Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
One of the most powerful prophets was discouraged. . . to the point of death. If you read all of 1 Kings 19 you’ll see that he started running because he was afraid. He was afraid because a death warrant lay on his head. He didn’t want to die. But as he ran for his life, he ran into the desert and asked for God to kill him anyway. Does that make sense?
Jezebel was ruthless. Maybe Elijah thought God’s death blow would be kinder, gentler than hers. (And it was because much later he was swept up into a heavenly chariot that took him to heaven.)But still, this demonstrates what discouragement can do.
It can blind us to truth. It makes us believe we’ve failed.
Later as Elijah petitioned before the Lord he told God that he was the only one left who believed in the one true God. But God countered Elijah’s perspective telling him there were seven thousand believers in Israel. Seven thousand.
Discouragement disillusions us.
Discouragement tells us we are alone.
Discouragement tells us God doesn’t care, or we aren’t good enough. Discouragement tells us God wants us to be miserable forever.
But none of that is true, is it? How do I know it’s not true?
Because my discouragement loses its strength when I turn to God. My hope is always renewed.
When discouragement and fear (they’re brothers, you know) overshadowed Elijah, he ran, but once he stopped running, he cried out to God, and God met him there. I think we can learn from this story.
When we’re tired, frustrated, and discouraged we need to:
1. Get away from the problem for a little bit. Take a walk. Go for a drive. Take a day off work. Get a babysitter so you can have a few hours away. Turn off the computer. Stop working on the project. Sit under a tree. :)
2. Cry out to God, “I quit!” I know, that seems to be the antithesis of this post, but often times we need to get out of the way and let God be God. He’s perfectly capable. He had Elijah’s problem all figured out. If we feel we’re banging our head against a brick wall, we need advice from God–we need to do it His way. That may require hands off.
3. Pray for His vision and truth. Ask God to help you see that you aren’t alone in your faith or your fight. Grab a Bible and ask Him to speak to you through His Word.
The rest of Elijah’s story is powerful. After sleep and food, he was sent to the mountain of God where God spoke to him in a gentle, quiet, small whisper. God wasn’t in the wind, or fire, or earthquake but a whisper.
And the voice said to him, “What are you doing here Elijah?”
Sometimes we are looking for God to do something really big. We’re expecting Him to blow us over or shake us up. He can do those things. But more often He whispers.
“What are you doing here?”
“Why are you discouraged, my friend?”
I’m here today to remind you that He’s got it.
Jesus loves you,
Broom tree photo attribution: By Velela (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Tips on Fasting:
1. Ask a friend to be praying for you and maybe fast with you. It always helps me to fast if I know someone else is not eating that day too. :) But whether or not she is fasting with me, her prayers help me get through the day and help open my spirit to God.
2. Remember to plan to fast on a day that’s not too busy, and don’t schedule a lunch date with a friend or a brunch with your small group. :) (Lessons I’ve learned.)