Summary: Looking at the life of Elijah, this sermons examines how we can overcome discouragement in our lives
A little girl had been trying for months to learn the art of tying her shoes. She finally grasped the knack and was able to do it by herself. Her parents expected the child to be delighted, but were surprised by her disappointment. Her father asked why she was crying. She sobbed, "I just learned how to tie my shoes." He said, "That’s wonderful, Honey, but why are you crying?" She replied, "Because now I’ll have to do it all by myself for the rest of my life."
One of the unwritten laws of life seems to be that when you experience a great high in life that a low is coming. It’s rare when one gets to live on the mountaintop—usually we get a few moments, and then come tumbling down. There’s a phrase that describes it. “Reality is setting in.”
You can count on it in your spiritual life—especially there. After a great victory comes a time of defeats and disappointments. You can see it in the lives of many Christians, and it is bound to happen in our lives as well. It is not long after Peter leads many to the Lord on that first sermon preached that he is arrested and beaten. Paul experienced many lows in his ministries—beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, left for dead. If it has happened to the stalwarts of the faith, it will happen to us.
This morning I want to deal with discouragement. The main reason for this is because we have just experienced a great mountaintop here at the church, with almost 100 different children here for vacation bible school. As you know, now is the time for follow-up, but what happens when nothing happens, or when the worst happens? How do we handle discouragement?
What do we do when the boss comes around and says that there are cutbacks being made in the company, and it’s time to let you go? What happens when it seems as though many people are busy spreading lies and rumors about you, assassinating your character? What do you do when the highs in life are immediately replaced by a new low?
This morning, I want to look at the life of Elijah, and see how he dealt with discouragement. How many of you are familiar with the life of Elijah? He’s one of the more well-known prophets in the OT. He had that contest with the prophets of Baal, remember? EXPLAIN THE STORY OF 450 prophets OF BAAL AGAINST ELIJAH.
What a great victory! He trusted in God to deliver, and God kept his promises! Yet, that brings us to chapter 19.
1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them."
3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.
Let this be a lesson to you men here this morning. Elijah wasn’t afraid of taking on 450 men, but one angry woman and ran for his life. But here’s Elijah—great victory, but now, extremely discouraged and distressed. And Elijah, instead of dealing with it properly, runs! In fact, he runs all the way across town! Instead of trusting in the same God who took care of him before, he runs for his life.
When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD ," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." He runs all the way out of Jerusalem and to the southern most part of Judah and throws his own pity party.
Anybody ever felt that bad before? God, take my life! Well, most of us would probably never admit it, but we all have felt depressed and discouraged before. That is exactly where Elijah is. Maybe you’ve never said “Take my life,” but maybe you’ve said things like these:
“God, I don’t know why I keep trying to be honest where I work. Everyone else at the company cheats and steals, leaves work early and still gets paid for a full day. I just want to give in! I’m tired of keeping my testimony in front of all of these people!”
“God, I’m doing my best to serve you, but the problems keep coming my way, and now I don’t even know how I’m going to pay this bill. I thought I was following you and doing what you want, and this is how you repay me?”