Everyone has his moments when the pressures of life seem almost too much to bear. Yet ‘in Christ’ there is always hope. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Literally that verse means, “I can be strong in every situation, whether it is good or bad, through the strength (grace) Christ supplies for me.” Let’s return again today to our study of Elijah and learn some of the principles God used to help him win his battle with discouragement.
In the story of Elijah, I see three directions of focus:
THE INWARD FOCUS
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?” 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.” (1 Kings 19:9-10)
One of the reasons for Elijah’s discouragement was his focus upon himself. “I have been very zealous … I am the only one left…now they are trying to kill me.” Elijah’s extreme inward focus caused him to become defeated and depressed.
THE UPWARD FOCUS
Then God 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)
I am not an expert on discouragement or depression; however, I have noticed something significant over the years. Often the relationship that suffers the most during our times of discouragement is our relationship with God. Many express that they do not feel like praying or studying scripture during difficult times; it is during such times that our relationship with God becomes extremely important. The Bible says, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)
THE OUTWARD FOCUS
Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also, you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. (1 Kings 19:15-16)
Elijah thought his life and ministry was over. “I have given God my very best and look at what it has brought me.” Yet Elijah’s ministry was not over. God still had plans for how He wanted to use him. “Go back the way you came, and get busy again” the Lord told him.
If you are struggling with discouragement or depression, I encourage you to set aside time when you can get alone with God and read His Word. Share your struggles with Him, but also listen for His response. You are not alone. God is still with you, and He cares about you. Perhaps your greatest years are still ahead.
God bless you, Brethren.
* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.
Very inspiring! Thank you Lord!