Godly people never get discouraged – right? Wrong! Being a Christian does not shelter us from difficulty or discouragement. Sometimes even the greatest of God’s people can feel overwhelmed by their circumstances.
If there ever was a man of great courage, it was Elijah. Single handily he defeated wicked Ahab and Jezebel, along with their hundreds of false prophets. In answer to his powerful prayers, the Lord performed some of the greatest miracles ever found in scripture. And yet, the book of James also tells us that Elijah was a man just like the rest of us. He was both faithful and frail.
“Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 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.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life and when he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 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.” (1 Kings 19:1-4)
What could cause a man so fearless to become so fearful? Let me mention three things that might have made him more vulnerable to discouragement and depression:
1) HE FAILED TO TAKE CARE OF HIS PERSONAL NEEDS
“Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.” (1 Kings 19:5-8)
Apparently Elijah was a man who was physically drained and depleted.
2) HE ISOLATED HIMSELF FROM OTHERS
Elijah left his servant at Beersheba while he went alone into the desert. There, by himself, he cried out to God, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:14) Though we may not be able to share all of our problems with everyone, each of us needs a few close friends who will give us a listening ear and prayer support.
3) HE ALLOWED HIMSELF TO WALLOW IN SELF-PITY
And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:9-10) “What are you doing here?” the LORD asked him. God was not minimizing Elijah’s adversity, but He was questioning his actions. “How is hiding in this cave going to help you?”
If you are currently battling with discouragement, I encourage you to take a few moments to read Psalm 31.