Overcoming Despair

All of us who have been in the ministry for a length of time have faced many times of despair, typically these are times that we are both physically and emotionally tired and empty. We cannot keep these times from coming, but we know what to do when they do come.

The Bible says of the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-4 ” 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 morrow 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 days journey into the wilderness and came and sat down in the 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 then my fathers. Elijah is one one of the most exciting and bombastic prophets of history. It is enjoyable to read the events of his life. He was a prophet during the days of Ahab, a king who was highly influenced by his wife Jezebel, a worshiper of Baal. This was Gods people, a nation held to a higher standard as Gods priestly nation. Elijah had witnessed the power of God on a personal level and national level. In 1 Kings 17 we see him in humility In 1 Kings 18, we see him as a hero. In 1 Kings 19 we see him face his own Humanity. In the first 4 verses we learn five things about Elijah and his despair.

    1. Elijah cuts himself off from those close to Him                                                                                               He ran many miles from the place where Jezebel had threatened him. He had separated not only from the people he was a prophet to; he even left his servant alone. Folks anytime we desire to be away from the church, pastors, good preaching or conferences that encourage us, we need to pay attention to what is happening in our hearts and minds.
    2. Elijah took his eyes off the Lord and focused instead on his own circumstances.                   When we focus on God and his power, there is nothing that can stand in our way. Yet, when we leave God and His power out of the picture, we are in trouble. Circumstances are always present and are always working to get our attention, we must DECIDE to keep our eyes on God.
    3. He stopped interceding for others and started requesting for himself .                                             This was the first time Elijah had prayed for himself. He had forgotten that he was the ” Prophet ” to Israel. He was to represent Christ to the people and the people to Christ. His attention is full of himself. This is dangerous. By the way, we have never had God meet our needs any more than when our focus, work, and prayer is on the needs of others.
    4. Elijah developed an attitude that said, “Life is hopeless”                                                                         There is always hope. Even when we cannot see hope, there is hope. As long as God is still on the throne there is hope.
    5. Elijah claimed that he wanted to die.                                                                                                                   He did NOT really want to die. He is whining and seeking pity. Had he really wanted to die he could have stayed in Israel; Jezebel had vowed to kill him! Perhaps you are at the place of despair today, and you are experiencing these same feelings about God, life, and your personal responsibilities and opportunities in the will of God. When these thoughts take place in our lives we must remember.  We have not been forsaken by the Lord.  God still had a plan for Elijah’s life and for his future ministry. God wants to bring you out of the valley of despair just like he did Elijah. It is not a sin to be tired, weary, and even in despair but it is dangerous if we stay there.  Do not give in Christian.

Jeff Fugate/Pastor

Clays Mill Baptist Church / Lexington, Ky