On the heels of Elijah's incredible victory over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, he was fell victim to discouragement.
"Elijah was afriad and ran for his life. 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 may die.'I have had enough, Lord,' he said. 'Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.," Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
Thank God for answered prayers, but also for the ones He doesn't answer! He didn't kill Elijah. He did, however, touch Elijah at his point of need.
Let me make several applications from the first few verses of I Kings 19 that I find helpful:
1) Like Elijah, I often find that I am most vulnerable after a big spiritual victory. It usually takes a significant investment of spiritual, emotional and physical energy to get a big win like Elijah did. After you get it several taxing things can happen; you begin to feel the pressure from the next big thing plus you usually make some enemies who will oppose you, and invariably there is an emotional let down.
2) Notice the way God responded to Elijah's discouragement. Some would say that discouragement is a sin. The last thing you need when you are battling discouragement is a layer of guilt piled on top of that. But God did not condemn Elijah, He ministered to his physical needs. The lesson is this, when you don't take care of yourself physically you make yourself more vulnerable to discouragement and to attacks from the enemy. Eat right. Get rest. Stay physically fit. Ministry is a marathon not a sprint.
3) Elijah gave in to fear. Again, when you are physically and mentally exhausted you lose your perspective and fear can overtake you. Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled." In otherwords, fear is a decision. In every situation you can choose to have faith or give into fear. When you get more focused on those who oppose you than on those who stand with you will fall victim to fear.
So, if you are battling discouragement today, take some wisdom from Elijah:
- guard your physical condition. Eat right. Rest well. Stay fit.
- guard your perspective, if God is for you, who can be against you?
- guard against a letdown, plan something fun or relaxing following a big event.
Getting discouraged is not a sin. Staying discouraged is! Learn from Elijah!