The other night, I was asked to speak on overcoming discouragement. When I was asked to speak on this, I felt very insecure because i just thought about how I am speaking to people with a lot of years of life and who have had to overcome much more than I ever have. Many of you reading this have had to overcome much more discouragement than I have ever had to. I felt like I’m not a great example of overcoming discouragement to be honest, I can feel down often. Then as i was writing i realized that i am qualified to speak on this. I have dealt with clinical depression since i was about 16 years old, although denied it until I was around 22. Satan is pretty much always telling me lies and often don’t feel like I’m enough. I have had to fight this battle for a large part of my life. Through my fight against depression, self-hatred, and low self-esteem, i have had to develop ways of coping spiritually.
What I love about the bible is that we see the weaknesses of people. Its not just a book about everyone strengths, it is the Word of God giving us faith and hope. Knowing that other people have gone through what your going through gives you hope, doesn’t it? When someone is talking and they can speak exactly to what is going on in your life, isn’t that powerful? That’s the word of God. As we read, listen for things you can relate to in your discouraging times.
1 Kings 19:1-18
19 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
After awesome display of Gods power (in the previous chapter), he actually gets depressed to the point of wanting to die. Ever been there? If not, have you ever felt like you have just had enough? Felt exhausted with fighting?
What discouraged Elijah so much? What does he say?
- Sin of others V10 (Verse 10)
- Feeling alone/only one left/no one cares V10
- He expected something else after putting the prophets to death- Unmet expectations
- Threats from Jezebel
- Exhausted from fighting- tired of fighting V4
- No better than my ancestors – didn’t feel worthy V4
What discourages us? What has discouraged you lately?
- Others shortcomings?
- You can see God working so clearly and it frustrates you when others cant
- Feeling alone
How do we overcome discouragement?
#1: Understand you’re not alone and your not weird (Perspective)
V10b- Elijah felt like he was the only one dealing with this.
What was the truth about his situation?
V18- Several thousands who are standing together
If you read the stories of Elijah, Moses, Jonah, and Job they all pleaded with God to take their lives. These are some of the greatest men in the bible. – You are not alone!
We have bouts of discouragement in our lives sometimes, can you relate? La Micia and I actually had one two days ago where she felt neglected by me and unloved. My problem is I internalize that and i felt like a failure. When these times of discouragement come, i can feel just like i will never know how to truly love her, a little hopeless. I can even just feel bad that she has to be with someone like me (someone very inconsiderate at times), i feel like such a disappointment sometimes and these feelings don’t just come with marriage.
No matter what your struggle is if its just occasional bouts of discouragement based on your circumstances or clinical depression, there are people out there going through the same thing. Discouragement is so isolating, you feel like no one can relate, no one understands you, this is Satans lie, you feel like if you tell anyone about why you are really discouraged, you might be labeled. There are other people going through this and even Jesus was down. Isn’t it amazing when you start to be open about your struggle, how many other people you find out are going through the same thing? Isn’t this true?
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Jesus was tempted in every way, that means he was tempted with suicide, with cowardice, with fear, with anxiety, with sexual immorality, with lust… God, our Father, understands your pain.
I have found that a leading cause of discouragement can be unmet expectations. Unmet expectations we place on ourselves and on other people.
After Gods huge display of power in the previous chapter, Elijah expected things to turn around, to be a game changing situation. — He had certain expectations that were not met. We see what his expectations were from the previous chapter, he prays: 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” (1 Kings 18)
Needless to say, this is not what happened…They actually just wanted to kill him more– Jezebel swore to God to kill him.
We can go into certain things expecting certain things. We can get married with certain expectations, we can go into a dating relationship with certain expectations, we can go into a new job with certain expectations, we can live our lives with high expectations — Having high expectations robs of us our joy. — God is enough, his grace is sufficient.
Its important that we don’t place heavy expectations on people we love and that we just love the people we love. It’s hard out here, lets be each others best friends… God is enough and he can meet every expectation you have.
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
God can meet all of your expectations. Who is the best person to talk to when we are feeling discouraged?
Be honest with God, get perspective, and get help.
Who did Jeremiah tell he wanted to die to? -God –V4 He prayed to God- he was honest with God.
V12- Did God strike him down? No! – He came to him in a gentle whisper. God wants to know what you’re going through and how you feel. He is not just waiting to condemn you or rebuke you.
How did God help him?
-Gave him strength to get to the next point he was able to travel 40 days straight.
-Gave him perspective- What perspective? (that he is not the only one) – Focus on these things- Train ourselves to see the God in situations, to see the good in people, to see the realities.
-Gave him the help he needed v15-17
-God puts people on this world and he puts people in your path to help you work through your issues and to work through whatever problems you are having. Are you willing to go get help when God points you in that direction. Who is God putting in your life right now? Getting help might mean being open, accepting monetary help, getting professional help, making a few phone calls, taking medicine, i dont know. I do know that God uses us to help each other.
Whatever your discouragement, you must know God has felt the exact same thing, you are not alone, there is help.