Summary: Dealing with discouragement
I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up!
Woodlawn Missionary Baptist Church
March 5, 2006
You may not remember what Life Alert sold or who little old Mrs. Fletcher was, but you’ll never be able to forget her famous line, “Help! I’ve fallen and I…” All the late night guys used the line. It showed up in just about every great sitcom during the ‘90s and was even used by Scooby Doo and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Some of you today feel like you’ve fallen and can’t get up. In fact, you’ve probably been feeling that way for some time. Our subject today is very real to me and to many of you. For too many it is an unwelcome, but familiar friend. Others of you share your lives with this guest on a daily basis. This is no new message: in fact, I have preached it before, but I believe it is time I preach it again and remind you of some things the Bible has to say about discouragement, desperation and perhaps even depression.
Did you know that you don’t just wake up one day in desperation and depression? They have a very subtle beginning, and we call it discouragement. When I am discouraged my old friends drop by. They come along and say all the words they think I need to hear: “I don’t care…” “I don’t feel like it…” “What difference does it make?” and one of my personal favorites, “whatever!” These are the kinds of friends that don’t call before they drop by; they stay too long, and talk way too much. There are some other things that might bring about those old friends, but I believe the most common instigator of them both is discouragement.
Has anyone seen these old friends of mine lately? Have they been staying at your home too? I don’t know how old they are, but I know they’re old. In fact, they visited a man in the Bible by the name of Elijah. He was a spiritual giant of a man to us, but he was just a man. He experienced the highest of spiritual highs on the top of Mt. Carmel and left that mountain for the wilderness of Beersheba. The Bible says,
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. 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.”
Henry David Thoreau said that the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation. Elijah got discouraged. He was desperate, scared, tired, down and out and wanted to give up. The apostle Paul himself said in Romans 9:2 “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” Moses could teach us a thing or two about it. Other men like Jonah, David, Noah, Abraham, Peter and John knew what it was to experience discouragement.
You may feel like old Job. In Job 3:1 and following, we find that righteous and God-loving man saying,
“Cursed be the day of my birth, and cursed be the night when I was conceived. Let that day be turned to darkness…Why didn’t I die at birth as I came from the womb? Why did my mother let me live?...Oh, why should light be given to the weary, and life to those in misery?...Why is life given to those with no future?...I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes.”
Discouragement is no respecter of persons. It comes at the most inconvenient of times. It visits the poor and the rich. It drops in on the single and the married and it spreads like wildfire. It comes when you are already down, and it shows up when you feel on top of the world. It is in this state that we find ourselves when we feel like giving up, when nothing matters and it seems that nothing could get worse.
William Ward said that discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old.