Summary: God has a word for us in discouraging times.
In 1 Kings 18, we are told about Elijah’s “mountain top” experience. He had challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest and had won! It had been decided that each would place a sacrifice upon the altar and pray to his God. The God who answered by sending fire from heaven upon the sacrifice would be recognized as the true God. Baal never responded to the cries of His prophets, while Yahweh immediately answered the prayer of Elijah. Consequently, revival broke out as all the people shouted, “The Lord - He is God!” Elijah then led the people to execute the prophets of Baal. It was indeed, a great spiritual victory!
But as is often the case with any great victory of God that we have in life, Elijah faced opposition in the person of queen Jezebel. Who, after hearing the news from her husband, king Ahab, decided that she was going to try to get rid of this “trouble maker” once and for all (19:1-2)!
Elijah ran for his life, ending up in the desert, where he sat down beneath a tree and told God to take his life, because he was sick and tired of being sick and tired (19:3-5a)! An angel of the Lord ministered to Elijah, giving him food to eat. Like most depressed individuals, Elijah just wanted to sleep, but the angel insisted that he journey to mount Horeb, the mountain of God, because it was there that God had appeared to Moses in the burning bush. God wanted Elijah to seek Him. That’s why He sent the angel.
Likewise, God wants us to seek Him when we are in times of discouragement or depression. The food the angel gave strengthened Elijah for the journey. When he arrived, he found a cave and crawled inside (19:5b-9a). There in that cave, Elijah continued to wrestle with his feelings of discouragement. But God was also there in that cave of discouragement, and He called to Elijah (19:9b-18).
Have you ever struggled with feelings of discouragement?
Just as God’s voice called out to Elijah on this occasion, His voice calls to us in our times of discouragement. From this story we learn that in our times of discouragement, God’s voice calls to us . . .
1. To Remind Us That We Are Not Alone - vs. 13-14; 18
Often, in times of discouragement, we feel like we are all alone in our struggles.
At those times, God’s voice calls to us, encouraging us to . . .
A. Look For His Presence - vs. 13-14
God’s presence was made known to Elijah through a “gentle whisper” or, as the King James Version puts it, a “still, small voice.” God wants us to know that in times of discouragement, He is with us, speaking to us, seeking to encourage us with His presence and love.
In verses 11-12, we are told of how a great wind blew over the mountain, followed by an earthquake, then a fire, but the Lord was not in these things. Instead, His presence was found in a “still, small, voice,” and “gentle whisper.”
What was God trying to teach Elijah? He wanted Elijah to know that God is always with His children, even though they may not see any outward manifestation of His presence! Even in those times when you may think you are all alone in your feelings of discouragement and that others have forsaken you, God has not and will not abandon you.
Do you know why animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions? They have their whips, of course, and their pistols are at their sides. But invariably they also carry a stool. It is the most important tool of the trainer. He holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the face of the lion. The lion tries to focus on all four legs at once. And in the attempt to focus on all four, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal, and it becomes weak and disabled because its attention is fragmented.
Rather than getting bogged down in “the paralysis of analysis” we need to turn our focus from all the things that are preoccupying our troubled mind and focus, instead, on seeking the presence of the Lord. In pursuit of that one thing, we will then find peace.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” - Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
Like Elijah, we need to turn aside from all the things that are distracting us to seek God in times of discouragement. As we do, we will be able to sense and be comforted by His presence in our lives.
B. Look To His People - v. 18