Three Steps Down
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. —James 5:13-18
Even godly people get down at times. Circumstances may knock us flat. Trials take us by surprise. But the difference between people is not the intensity of the things that we go through, but how we choose to deal with those circumstances. That’s what determines who lives on the peak and who lives in the valley. The good news is that we can make our own choices.
Elijah is a good example of both choosing to live in the valley and how to climb to the mountaintop. Lest we think Elijah is some superhero, James 5:17 reminds us that God’s mighty prophet was a man with a nature like ours. We see him here as he was, not like some glossy, retouched photograph.
Want to know how NOT to handle tough circumstances?
Find a place by yourself.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah had just come off this major victory. He was physically exhausted and emotionally spent. With no energy and no motivation, verse 5 says Elijah just sat under a broom tree (an almost lifeless, leafless shrub). So why was Elijah sitting under that tree? I’ll tell you—the dude wanted to be by himself. Leave me alone. I don’t want any people around. The tragic fact is that depression shuts out the thing we need most—people. When you feel depressed, you stiff-arm those who love you, who want to support you, and who can give you a reality check.
Friend—those dark clouds are not going to leave you as long as you are trying to do life on your own. Let me ask you four questions. Answer honestly now:
- Do you have fewer personal friends than you had a year ago?
- Are you spending fewer evenings out?
- When you come home, do you often retreat away from your family?
- Are you skipping Small Group or avoiding getting into one?
Do you see yourself? Well, here’s what you do:
1. Let God confront you and ask you, “What are you doing here?”
2. Let God reveal Himself to you. Look for ways that He’s trying to communicate with you.
3. Let God provide for you. If you’ll let Him, God will nourish you with His Word or through a friend and you’ll find yourself getting stronger.
4. As He communicates, immediately do what God says.
5. Get involved with people again.
Ask God to give you the courage to begin today. —James MacDonald
· Have I ever taken the time to ask God, “Who are You?” and then listened? What is stopping me from doing that right now?
Prayer: Almighty Father, thank You that You don’t ever give up on me. You pursue me even when I’m hiding and retreating from life. Help me to totally rely on You for the strength to handle any circumstances You allow into my life, no matter how tough. In Jesus’ name, Amen.