Emotions are so confusing sometimes.
Do you ever evaluate your walk with God based on how you are feeling today?
If you are not singing a happy song, and dancing while you perfectly complete every duty on your list–you feel like you are not living the “God Life.”
And yet, the people we see in the Bible truly living the “God Life” had complicated emotions. Right? Was Jeremiah not known as the weeping prophet? Paul went through so much suffering for the glory of Jesus Christ. I guess sometimes we picture in our heads that he was getting hit by rocks, sitting in prison, or almost drowning in the sea with a smile on his face and a wink in his eye.
I am sure it is not so.
Suffering is a process.
We suffer, wait, cry out to the Lord, wait, and then when we hear from Him we rejoice.
And faith grows.
And He continues to get glory.
And the enemy doesn’t get his way with us.
Emotions are a process.
Not a handicap.
Faith cannot be strengthened any other way.
We cannot trust God, until we know how much we need God.
And He shows up.
So, don’t be surprised if you LOVE GOD and you find yourself depressed, discouraged, and dejected.
It happens to the best of us.
Literally–to the BEST of us.
The prophetic among us.
And don’t forget the enemy is right behind every spiritual victory, setting another trap, getting a different angle, and preying upon every thought, emotion, or weakness.
Today’s One Year Bible was about what Elijah went through AFTER his mighty victory in the showdown with the prophets of Baal.
Yesterday, the 1 Kings reading was amazing. Elijah prayed, fire came down from heaven, people cried out, “THE LORD IS GOD!” People don’t forget days like this. Afterward Elijah set himself to praying (laboring in prayer) until the rain cloud formed–ending the drought. God was moving in mighty ways–using Elijah.
But TODAY, in chapter 19, Elijah was depressed, discouraged and dejected.
Although Elijah may be a prophet, he is still human.
So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”
3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
This scene is heartbreaking.
Elijah had so much confidence in the Lord the day before. He stood boldly against the demonic presence rendered powerless on Mt. Carmel. He knew God would consume the sacrifice. God had told him. He trusted God.
But God must not have told him about the counter-attack to follow. He thought, “Well maybe Jezebel will kill me.” This was another spiritual battle. Jezebel’s demons wanted revenge. It was more than fear, this feeling Elijah felt was oppression.
And was he strong enough to face it? I mean, all ministry takes it out of you. But I am sure that what happened to Elijah the day before was 100 times more draining than typical service to the Lord! Either way, when you pour out what God pours in and you need a refill. Maybe Elijah just needed to get up early the next day and go pray. Instead he walks for miles into the wilderness, thus wiping himself out even more.
Don’t our emotions get away from us when we are exhausted? We need rest. We need prayer and quiet time. Jesus needed it–Our Lord would go pray before and after a hard day of ministry. Don’t we need this as well? If we don’t do it, does the enemy not step in to attack in our state of weakness?
God is good. God sent him rest and an angel with food.
Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.
Now God didn’t tell him to go to Mt. Sinai. But He did help him get where he was going. Isn’t He so good to us. The food He gives is such miraculous sustenance.
But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
I love this! When he gets to Mt. Sinai the Lord meets with him, but asks him what he is doing here. Why did Elijah go to Mt. Sinai to hear from God? Did he go there to hear from God? Or to get away from everything? Or to die there?
10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
God is revealing His character to Elijah. He is drawing him close. Elijah was close enough to hear a quiet whisper from the mouth of God. God’s voice can boom like thunder or a trumpet, and yet He came so close to Elijah that He had to whisper.
And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
14 He replied again, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
He lists the same complaints to the Lord. Repeating. Festering. Obsessing. Replaying the scenario, over and over. Like we all do. Not able to see past the circumstance. But God is a save cushion for our venting hearts. He understands. He directs. He gives hope.
15 Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16 Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. 17 Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! 18 Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”
Elijah still had a calling. Despite his fear, and anger and confusion. Despite his depression, discouragement, and dejection. He longed to die, but God needed him to live.
There was hope. A remnant, a disciple, and a King.
Elijah needed a refill of God’s Spirit.
He went from feeling drained, back to overflowing.
The solution to our emotional lows, is simple.
It is all changed when God comes close enough that we hear His sweet whisper.
Let us stop running from it all.
Not able to see the angel with the provision in the middle of our drama.
Let us realize we don’t have to go all the way back to Mt. Sinai
—-Or turn on the TV, tune out, ignore our feelings, distract ourselves.
(Can you just imagine Paul, Jeremiah, and Elijah checking Facebook or watching the evening news with a gallon of ice cream to ease help them feel better?)
We just need to open our Bibles in a quiet place and wait where we are, for more of Him.
Faith is a process.