Discouraged? God will help.
One Bible character exemplified a serious time of discouragement perhaps more than any other. Elijah was a mighty prophet for God. Unfortunately, after feeling the emotional and spiritual high of a great victory on behalf of the Lord, he got lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon track. So much so that he wound up alone in a cave on Mt. Horeb. You can read about it in I Kings 19.
The thing to note is how God ministered to Elijah. God dispelled his discouragement. Consider how God did so for Elijah, and consider comparatively how God will minister to you when you get dumpy and grumpy with affairs in life.
First, God helped the man by letting Elijah debrief. Three times Elijah was permitted to get things off his chest. In no uncertain terms, Elijah told the Lord just exactly how he felt. God did not stop him. God did not interrupt him. But, God heard him out.
This is one way God helps dispel our times of discouragement, for He lets us vent. At times, we need to vent, and, if there is anyone who will listen to us do so, it is God. Sometimes, if we try to talk to others, they will interrupt us by interjecting personal experiences of their own or by giving some sort of lame advice. How can you fully debrief when that happens? But, God lets us have at it. It is good to know that God is willing to patiently hear us. Tell him what is causing you pain. He cares.
Second, God helped the man by giving Elijah some needed sustenance in a timely manner. When Elijah laid down expecting to die perhaps, God provided some needed food. Two times Elijah was encouraged to eat it, and he did. Eating the provision from the Lord built Elijah up and made him feel better for the immediate moment.
The needed sustenance God provides to help dispel our discouragement is obviously the Word of God, which is described as milk and meat. The Lord wisely directs us to the necessary Scripture that will feed our souls in time of need and in the nick of time. We read it. We meditate on it to let the strength of it sink in. The Psalmist wrote, “When my soul cleaveth to the dust, quicken thou me according to thy Word.”
A third ministry of the Lord to Elijah involved the “still small voice” which Elijah heard. At the cave on Mt. Horeb (which means, “where God dwells”), God initially gave an awesome demonstration with the strong wind, the breaking up the rocks, the earthquake, and the fire. But, it was that “still small voice” speaking to Elijah that captivated his attention the most.
Even though God’s voice asked Elijah a pointed question, how encouraging it must have been for Elijah to hear it nonetheless, for it communicated that God was present and that God was paying attention to the man. God will speak to us, too. It most likely will not be audible, but God will indicate His presence and attention by speaking to us through His Word and by way of His Holy Spirit that is absolutely uplifting. I have experienced the same on several occasions. God is good about doing that type of thing when we are discouraged.
Furthermore, you will notice from the Biblical account that, although God did not sternly rebuke Elijah for being so pitiful, what God did was that He directed Elijah what to do next. Elijah had work to do. During this time of discouragement, God helped to dispel it by letting Elijah know that he was still useful. The Lord will let you know the same thing, for you are always useful to Him! So, do not ever give up or give in.
Finally, God dispelled the discouragement by giving Elijah a direct word of encouragement, essentially informing the man that he was not the last man standing. There were plenty of others, too, by which God reminded him that he was not standing alone. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that fact ourselves.
Discouraged? God, oh, most certainly, helps.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.