Summary: All people struggle with discouragement, depression or loneliness. The story of Elijah gives us hope, encouragement and four keys to defeat discouragement and depression.
DEFEATING DISCOURAGEMENT, DEPRESSION AND LONELINESS
“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again.” (James 5:16b-18).
• The Bible tells us two things here about Elijah. First of all, he was man who prayed powerful prayers. But secondly, he was as human as we are. That’s encouraging!
• I like the fact that the heroes of the Bible had weaknesses and flaws that we can relate to.
• As powerful and mighty a man of God that Elijah was, he struggled with discouragement.
• An ad for Paxil (an anti-depressant) from Reader’s Digest (Feb. 2003): "Depressed Mood, Loss of Interest, Sleep Problems, Difficulty Concentrating, and Restlessness." It concluded with: "Life is too precious to let another day go by feeling not quite ’yourself.’ And life can feel difficult all day."
• The world’s answer to depression is medication. God had another answer for Elijah.
BACKGROUND TO THE STORY OF ELIJAH:
17:1 - Elijah told the wicked King Ahab that there would be no rain.
- this drought was God’s judgment on him for leading the nation into immorality
v.2-6 - the Lord provided for Elijah with food from ravens and water from a brook.
v.7-24 - the Lord had a widow provide for Elijah, and he raised her son from the dead.
18:16-20 - Elijah had Ahab called the 450 Baal and 400 Asherah prophets to Mount Carmel
v.21 - Elijah’s bold challenge: “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the
Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him!”
2.22-40 - God sent fire from Heaven on Elijah’s sacrifice, and they slew the false prophets
- this was a major victory in his life!
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs 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 broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:1-4).
• Look at what happened to this mighty man of God, right after his major victory:
o Fear: “Elijah arose and ran for his life.”
o Depression and discouragement: “Lord, take my life.”
o Loneliness: “He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness.”
• Just because we struggle with these things doesn’t mean we’re doing something wrong.
DEFEATING DISCOURAGEMENT AND DEPRESSION: Calvin & Hobbes “Miller Time!”
• What do you do when you’re discouraged? Many people turn to drugs or alcohol
THE BIG IDEA: All people struggle with discouragement, depression or loneliness at different times in their lives. The story of Elijah gives us hope, encouragement and four keys to defeat discouragement and depression.
“Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you. So he arose, and ate and drank.” (1 Kings 19:5-8a).
• Even though we are called to do the work of the ministry and serve the Lord, this must be balanced out with seasons of rest and refreshing.
• One of the first simple keys to defeating discouragement and depression is to get enough rest and take care of our physical bodies.
• “And Jesus said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31).
2. RECONNECT WITH THE LORD:
“and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 So he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." 11 Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:8b-12).