Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Through the experience of Elijah after Jezebel’s threat and his subsequent despair we can learn some ways to hang in there.

In a certain household the family cat brought a mouse into the house. The father was going to do away with it. The children were mortified that Papa would do such a thing. So he waited until they life the room. Then he saw a glass of water on a table and he dropped the mouse into the glass. Later, when he returned he noticed the mouse hanging onto the side of the glass. He decided that if the mouse wanted to live that much he would let him. So he let him live.

Doesn’t that say something of what you feel sometimes? You are treading water and your nose is just above the water line? Life is like that quite often.

Tonight I am going to speak on the subject of “Hanging In There Through Despair.” Despair ... we think of despair in terms of depression, hopelessness, a feeling that there is no way out, if we could just die that would be better than what we now face. We will be looking once again at 2 Cor. 4:8. We will also look at the 19th chapter of 2 Kings. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.”

The fact is, some of us are perplexed and do despair. We know that the second leading cause of death among teenagers, second only to automobile accidents, is suicide. Why? It happens to adults too. Why? What causes suicide? It is when you reach a point of despair. What causes despair? How do we face it, when it comes? What can we do about it?

Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Kings 19. We are going to read a few verses and then I want us to look at what happened in the life of one man. Maybe by looking at him we can bring some light into our own situation. Because if you have never known despair, if you have never known depression, in all likelihood, you will somewhere along the way.

READ 1 Kings 19:1-4

We are talking about something that comes close to home. And it came close to home for Elijah. I want us to look at him and see what he found and how he dealt with the problem. Where does despair come from and where is depression found?

First, I think we face despair when we attempt impossible tasks. Some of us are perfectionists. It is tough to live up to certain standards. Students feel this quite often.

I think we can sometimes be impacted by the behavior of other people. They impose pressure on us and we feel the weight of their imposing. Sometimes they say things about us, we may feel on top of the world and someone says one thing about us, one person does just one thing to us and we become depressed. Sometimes we experience despair when we are separated from the people we love,

our friends or some special loved one. Oftentimes this will come after the death of someone. Sometimes this happens at the end of a broken love affair. Children go away to college. Or simply they just leave home finally.

As often as not it happens when people lose the purpose in their lives. We see this in retired people, who after they retire,

lose a sense of identity. They no longer can pinpoint an identity without their job. How many times have we heard of someone who retired and just a few short months or years later we hear of their death.

Let’s look at where despair came in the life of Elijah. First, note that despair came to such a man as Elijah at all. He was not a spiritual child, a weakling. Elijah was a spiritual giant. One of God’s great prophets. Despair came to him and he sat under a juniper tree wishing he were dead. He was depressed, frustrated and despairing. This is often seen in other prophets.

Jeremiah said, “Oh, that I had a wilderness lodging place, that I might leave my people and go from them.”

Jonah said, “Therefore, Now O Lord, take I beseech thee my life from me for it is better for me to die than to live.”

The Psalmist wrote, “Oh, that I had the wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest.”

If we’re honest, we have all known feelings like that or similar to that. There are times we feel put upon ... we feel boxed in ... we wish we could just have wings to fly out of the situation. But, even the spiritual giants, even Elijah could know depression and despair.


We need to look back in the previous chapter and discover what had caused this. You read these chapters and you get excited about what God had done on the earth. Elijah had just won a major victory on Mt. Carmel and revival had come to his people. He had prayed it would not rain and it did not rain for 3½ years. Then he prayed it would rain and flood came. He was that kind of man and he had just won that kind of a victory.

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