Summary: Trouble came upon Elijah suddenly and unexpectedly, when he promised to himself peace and prosperity, because He had obeyed God. But Trouble came. Elijah runs until he is completely exhausted. Exhaustion opens the door of discouragement. The pandemic did all the above!
Avoiding the Syndrome Brought on by the Pandemic
Introduction: A fifty-five-year-old woman threw herself from her fourteenth-floor apartment to the ground below. Minutes before her death, she saw a workman washing the windows of a nearby building. She greeted him and smiled, and he smiled and said hello to her. When he turned his back, she jumped.
On a very neat and orderly desk she had left this note: "I can't endure one more day of this loneliness. My phone never rings! I never get letters! I don't have any friends!"
Another woman who lived just across the hall told reporters, "I wish I had known she felt so lonely. I'm lonesome myself." You and I are surrounded by lonely people.
Who experiences loneliness and despair? The person living anonymously in a crowded city. The foreigner. The rich and miserly. The divorcee and single parent. The young and old person. The business executive and the unemployed and even pastors. No one is immune from loneliness. Even godly men and women sometimes experience loneliness in their pilgrimage through this world. The pandemic has intensified these emotions.
Elijah stands out in the Old Testament as God's most dramatic, forceful prophet. He stopped the rain, challenged a king face to face, produced fire from heaven, ordered hundreds of false prophets executed, and accurately predicted the day when a three-year drought would end. Yet in the New Testament we read, "Elijah was a man just like us" (James 5:17). He also experienced times of loneliness and despair.
By taking four wrong steps Elijah found himself under a tree in complete discouragement (1 Kings 18:46-19:4). First, he exhausted himself physically. Second, he became upset emotionally. Third, he failed to turn to God spiritually. Fourth, he isolated himself socially. Because of these same feelings, many believers have refused to attend public worships and continue living in isolation. Let’s closer at Elijah’s Journey.
1. Elijah exhausted himself physically – V 3, 4 “ And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 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.
Driven by fear and anxiety, Elijah runs towards the southern wilderness away from Judah, he sat down completely exhausted under the scanty shade of a desert broom-bush and prayed that he might die at the hands of God instead of Jezebel. In the end he collapsed under a tree in a desert place and cried, "I've had enough, Lord! Take my life. I just feel like dying."
Trouble came upon Elijah suddenly and unexpectedly, when he promised to himself peace and prosperity, because He had obeyed God. But Trouble came. Elijah runs until he is completely exhausted. Exhaustion opens the door of discouragement. This pandemic has left all of us feeling exhausted. Trouble came on Job suddenly and without warning.
Job 30:26,27 “When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.”
The remedy for exhaustion is rest! David reminds us in Psalms 37:7, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.”
In other words, do not murmur at God’s dealings, but silently and quietly submit to his will, and adore his judgments, and wait for his help. This advice and command are pressed again and again in Scripture to show us how hard it is to learn and practice this lesson. Elijah fails to rest, he exhausted himself physically. Are you receiving proper rest?
2. Elijah upset himself emotionally – 4b “….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.”
Elijah’s intense excitement of victory had been followed by despair, his exhilaration by depression: man is but dust. He prayed to die, and yet the Lord did not intend that he should ever die. Truly, we often know not what we ask. Elijah lost control of his emotions. Pr 16:32 “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”
Family Bible Notes Commentary says, “The mighty conqueror who has not learned to rule his own spirit leads a miserable life and will come to a miserable end. Elijah became upset emotionally. His fear got the best of him. He became completely discouraged. Have you ever felt completely discouraged - without anyone to encourage you? Have you ever experienced the Elijah syndrome? The Elijah syndrome begins by becoming too tired and too emotional. Elijah magnified his problems by rehearsing them in his mind. His situation had not changed but in his mind, they grew worse and worse. We must not allow the pandemic, the vaccines nor mask to dominate our minds. If we are not careful, we will feel comfortable everywhere except in church. That’s really Satan’s strategy. Rest your body and your mind.