Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Proverbs 27:15
Read the “0423 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4)
In our reading passage today we get to see one of the greatest recorded victories in the Bible of good over evil. Elijah, a mighty prophet of God who prophesied in Israel during a time of great apostasy, challenges the prophets of Baal (850 of the altogether) to come to Mt. Carmel in prove the power of their god. After many hours of crying out Baal, and even cutting themselves to please him, Baal never shows up. The God of Israel, however, does make an appearance, and at the request of Elijah sends down fire from Heaven and consumes the sacrifice that Elijah had prepared. He also sent along some desperately needed rain, which hadn’t happened in a couple of years. The people of Israel very wisely choose the Lord’s side, crying out, “the LORD, He is the God”, and then they put to death all of the false prophets. All in all, it was a great day to be on the Lord’s side.
Something very strange happens immediately after this great victory, however. Queen Jezebel finds out about what happened to her prophets, and demands the death of Elijah. Elijah then runs for his life away from her. Why would he run? He just saw God do the impossible. The people just slaughtered all of the false prophets, and I am quite sure they would have killed Ahab and Jezebel had Elijah asked them to. Instead, Elijah runs, and then asks God to take his life. It just doesn’t make sense.
If you carefully examine the story, however, you begin to see some of the underlying reasons for Elijah’s despair. First of all, let me state from personal experience that discouragement can ironically come sometimes after a great victory. I am not sure why that is, it just is. There is almost a feeling of emptiness after the battle to achieve something is finally concluded. I’m told Alexander the Great was distraught to the point of suicide after he conquered all the known world because there were no more cities to conquer. Elijah sure had more work to do; he could have conquered Jezebel, but maybe he was just tired of fighting the battles. I know of a preacher right now who has resigned his church, and is going into retirement. He has been fighting battles for over two decades in a very difficult place of ministry, and he is simply just tired. Elijah seems to have been just tired of fighting. The battles just keep coming, and his strength was depleted.
What can we do when battling discouragement:
1 Get Help – Elijah thought he was all alone, but God reminded him that there were 7000 men out there, and I am sure some women, too, that were on his team. They could have, and would have, helped him. Get help fighting the battle, and get somebody to help you with your discouragement. I am blessed to have many people in my life, seasoned men, that I can turn to for advice.
2 Get Rest – Elijah had run for days without rest, and without food; his physical strength was completely depleted. He needed a good, long rest; and some nourishment. That is exactly what the angel did for him:
“And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.” (1 Kings 19:5-6)
3 Get Up – Don’t quit. Elijah should have asked the Lord for help and strength, but instead he asks the Lord to kill him. Quitting is never the answer. We may need to take some time out to replenish, but we should never leave the battle completely.
There will come a time in my life when God will be through with me, and at that time He will take me home to Heaven. Until that time comes, however, I need to stay encouraged, and stay in the battle. If God still wants me to fight, then He will give me everything that I need to keep fighting, including strength and encouragement.
By the way, if you are saved and your are not in the battle with the Lord, you will also be very discouraged, because God has not equipped you to sit on the sidelines. Find something to do for the Lord, and you will be greatly encouraged as you fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
Posted in Thoughts from 1 Kings by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.