Elijah – the Disheartened Man of God

When buying sunglasses, there are various colors of lenses to choose from. You have the option of gray, green, brown, black, orange, and yellow. When you put the glasses on, you see the world in the color of the lenses. It’s amazing how the color of the lenses influences perception.

The prophet Elijah had a similar experience, not caused by sunglasses, but related to Queen Jezebel’s outburst of anger. After a great victory on Mount Carmel and the annihilation of the Baal priests, she threatened Elijah with death (1 Kings 19:1-2). Elijah, usually courageous and trusting in God, was overwhelmed by this threat. He couldn’t handle it and fled. After traveling about 160 kilometers, he collapsed under a broom tree, exhausted and disheartened. He was at the end of his strength, physically and emotionally. Weary of life, he had only one wish: he wanted to die. Through the lens of despair, his world appeared bleak and without any hope.

Sometimes, metaphorically speaking, the devil puts the glasses of despair on us. Then our world looks very similar to Elijah’s, namely gloomy and hopeless. Why? Here are some reasons:

1. Depression causes us to lose touch with the reality of life and think irrationally. It prompts us to do things we would never do under normal circumstances. Elijah could only see Jezebel and her threat to take his life. It seems he had completely lost sight of his God. Consequently, he didn’t count on God and His mighty hand that was able to carry him through times of severe storms. Despair influences our entire thinking, perception, and attitude.

2. When we are depressed, we forget how God has helped us before. The fact that He has helped us in wonderful ways in the past doesn’t seem to cross our mind. Especially in Elijah’s life, God had revealed Himself marvelously in the last three and a half years. While the country, plagued by a great drought, left people and animals searching for water, God faithfully provided for His servant. At the Brook Cherith, he found food and water. In Zarephath, he found shelter and food in the home of a widow. At the moment of divine intervention on Mount Carmel, fire fell from heaven in answer to his prayer. He seemed to have forgotten all these experiences. He only saw the present situation: his life was in danger.

3. Despair does not anticipate God’s assistance. Like an echo, Jezebel’s words reverberated in Elijah’s ears. He would never have verbalized it, but based on his behavior, it can be inferred that he no longer expected God’s help. Consequently, he didn’t even ask for God’s intervention. The situation seemed hopeless. Ultimately, he was the “only one” left. At least that’s how he assessed the situation. His perception also contributed to his dejection.

4. Those who are disheartened forget their duties and responsibilities. Their tasks remain undone. When he heard of the death threat on his life, his duties were the last thing on his mind. As a reformer, he was needed now more than ever by the people of Israel. After the people turned away from Baal and returned to the true God of Israel, they urgently needed instruction and teaching. The laws of Moses, which had been neglected for years, needed to be re-introduced and proclaimed again. The reformation was only in its infancy and needed to be fostered. However, Elijah was nowhere to be found on the mission field. He had forsaken his place. His duties remained undone. Overwhelmed by despair, he found himself far off somewhere in the desert. All alone, he sat in the shade of a tree and wanted to die.

5. Those who are depressed lose hope, courage, and joy. Life revolves around oneself. Confronted by God, Elijah defended himself: “They seek to take my life.” A victim mentality where one only sees oneself leaves little room for hope, courage, and joy. Life makes no sense. You have no goal and no reason for living.

Someone claims that discouragement is the devil’s most successful weapon. Indeed, it has thrown many off track. We cannot afford to allow despair a foothold.

A troubled woman visited a seasoned pastor. She trustingly poured out her heart. Her life had been very difficult, and she didn’t know how to keep going. Wiping her tears away, she concluded with the words, “No one can help me anymore!” The pastor suggested praying together. He prayed something like this: “Lord, You have helped our dear sister so faithfully over so many years. It’s a pity that You are unable to help her now in this difficult situation.” – She interrupted his prayer: “Stop! You can’t pray like that.” The room fell silent. Suddenly, she realized that she had ruled out God’s ability to help, and no longer counted on Him.

Elijah’s story does not end in despair. God did not heed his prayer. He didn’t die. God lifted him out of despondency by sending an angel who cared for him, bringing him nourishment and water. Then he heard the angel say, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you” (1 Kings 19:7). Had he heard and understood correctly? The angel spoke of a journey. Was there still hope for him who had seen no hope? The answer is in the following verse: “So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.”

Perhaps there is a circumstance, “a Jezebel” in your life that has brought you to the point of despair? Through the lens of depression, your world seems hopeless. “This can’t continue,” was the angel’s message to Elijah. It also applies to you. God wants to help you get back on your feet. Why not discard the dark glasses of despair today? There is a future for you as well! “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.” He can change everything. Trust in His promises with renewed courage. God is there.

Harry Semenjuk

Wetaskiwin, Alberta

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