Text: 1 Kings 19:1-18
I want to take you back to a time in Israel's history when idolarty was rampant. A time when the nation was divided. A time when very few people worshipped the Lord. A time very much like today.
It was a time of great sin and immorality. A time of sexual promiscuity; a time of violence; a time of intolerance and injustice; a time of extensive idol worship. Needless to say, it was a bleak time in Israel's history.
During that time God sent a prophet to prophesy to Israel by the name of Elijah. Elijah was a Benjamite, the son of Jeroham. He was an influential prophet who lived in the ninth century b.c., during the reigns of Ahab and Ahaziah in the northern kingdom of Israel.
As we read about Elijah in the pages of the Bible we discover several things about this prophet:
1) His life was filled with miraculous events:
a) He prayed and it did not rain for the space of three and one half years.
b) He was fed by ravens during that time of great drought.
c) While staying at a widow's home, he performed a miracle by bringing her son back to life.
d) He called fire down from heaven to consume a sacrifice on the altar he built on Mt. Carmel when facing 450 prophets of Baal
e) He prayed again and it rained after three and one half years
f) He was carried to heaven in a chariot by a whirlwind, thus he did not experience death
2) He was a man of great faith: (Consider the events above)
3) He was subject to like passions as we are (James 5:17)
In other words, Elijah was subject to times of discouragement and depression, just like we are, which is what we see in our text.
In our text, we read that although Elijah was a man whose life was filled with miraculous events, and one whose life was characterized by great faith, nevertheless he was at this time dealing with great depression.
As we examine this period in the life of Elijah we discover both the cause and condition of discouragement as well as the means by which we can effectively deal with such discouragement.
From Elijah's story we see that there are at least 5 major causes of discouragement:
1. THREAT - See v. 2
A. Both Real and Perceived . When we face the threat of the loss of life, or the loss of health, or the loss of ministry, discouragement sets in.
2. CONFUSION - See v. 2
A. Once God had proven Himself as the true God, you would think that King Ahab, along with all the people of Israel, would turn from their idolatry and begin to worship Yahweh. But that's not what happened. Thus Elijah was perhaps confused
about the outcome.
3. FATIGUE - See v. 5
A. Elijah was exhausted. Not only had the been on the mountain all day, facing the prophets of Baal from morning to evening, but for the last three and a half years of his life he was in constant danger because of king Ahab, hiding from place to place.
A. Have you ever experienced a time when you felt like you stood alone in time of opposition? That no one stood with you to support you and defend you?
The Apostle Paul experienced such an occasion:
2 Tim 4:16,17
The first time I was brought before the judge, no one was with me. Everyone had abandoned me. I hope it will not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength, that I might preach the Good News in all its fullness for all the Gentiles to hear. And he saved me from death. (NLT)
5. HOPLESSNESS - See v. 4
A. Elijah felt that all hope had gone. He wanted his life to end, so he prayed and asked the Lord to take his life away.
Now that we have seen its causes, what are the conditions of discouragement? Or the outward manifestations of discouragement? These, too, we find characterized in the life of Elijah.
1. WITHDRAWAL - See v. 4
2. SUICIDAL TENDENCIES - See v. 4
3. IRRATIONAL THOUGHT - See 4b “I am not better than my fathers”
4. FEELINGS OF ABANDONMENT - See v. 4
5. PESSIMISM - Hopelessness
And finally, let's look at this passage to discover the means by which we can effectively deal with discouragement. There are 5 words that I think are important for us to consider:
1. RECEIVE - See v. 6
A. Receive nourishment. Elijah was fed by an Angel. We must feed upon the word of God.
2. WAIT - See v. 11 (Be Patient)
A. Elijah was told to stand upon the mountain and wait upon the Lord
3. LISTEN - See v. 11-13
A. Be sensitive to the Spirit of God. Be quiet and listen. God is not always in the fire or the earthquake, but sometimes He comes to us in a still, small voice. And the only way we can hear Him is if we are quitely listening for His voice.
4. KNOW - See v. 18
A. Know that God is in control. The situation is never as bleak as it seems.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. (Rom. 8:28)
5. DO - See vv. 15, 16
A. There is still work to be done. We must get busy. We must stay busy. Now is not the time of rest.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Gal. 6:9)
When you find yourself going through a time of discouragement, remember this story of Elijah. You are not alone. Even the greatest men of faith had times of great discouragement. Pray that God will grant you peace and wisdom and patience, and give you the strength to follow the guidelines laid out in this passage. And always remember:
For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning. (Psalm 30:5).