How do you respond to discouragement? Maybe someone disappoints you, expectations aren’t met? What happens when you have put so much effort into something you feel is very important – a relationship, a job, and the effort isn’t reciprocated, or the relationship, the job fails and discouragement sets in. Maybe it is you that you are disappointed with. You’ve tried so hard to put anxiety, fear and worry, something from your past, behind you and yet you just keep picking it back up and carrying it with you.
This weekend we turn our attention to how the Devoted respond to discouragement through the life of a man named Elijah. We pick up with his story in 1 Kings Chapter 19, verse 4: “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.”
Where do you go when you are worn down, when you are discouraged and you want to hide?
Here is the first lesson we learn from Elijah. The devoted face discouragement. The bible makes it a point to tell us “Elijah was a man just like us.” (James 5:17a)(NIV) He was subject to the same challenges, same imperfections, the same questions, and the same discouragement that comes when we fully engage God, follow God’s desire and purpose for our life. And The devoted, when faced with discouragement are reminded that God has a plan! God is at work and He is NOT looking for a few good men and women. God is looking for one willing person who will be devoted.
Here is the second lesson we learn from Elijah. For the devoted, discouragement can be a warning light suggesting to us that we have lost our primary focus.
When we experience discouragement, it helps us to get alone with God and allow Him to examine our heart and our motives. Psalm 139:23. “Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23)(NIV)
Lately, when I face discouragement, I’ve tried to make it an effective time of growth in my relationship with God. I ask Him – “God, why am I feeling this way? Why am I so anxious? What have I forgotten?” And the first answer I always get is this…. “Welcome back David…It’s been a while since you relied on me….” “Welcome back David, you weren’t created to do this on your own….” “Of course you feel discouraged, you are more worried about how others see you, than how I see you….”
Discouragement helps us get alone with God and allow Him to examine our hearts our motives, our pride, our greed, our wanting what others have. For the devoted, discouragement is a refining tool. The psalmist was no stranger to discouragement and his response was to remember God and trust the promises of the word: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.” (Psalm 42:5-6)(NIV)
One final lesson we take away from Elijah’s experience: God’s presence has always been and always will be with the devoted.
Elijah makes this discovery as he meets God at Mt. Horeb, the place his ancestors would go to “find God”. My hope is that you will come this weekend to the place millions have made this same discovery, His Church. I look forward to encouraging you this weekend on Saturday night at 5:30 and Sunday at 10:30. This Saturday is a great night for our students and it can be a great night for you. Come and see! Dave