June 22, 2014
TODAY’S STUDY TEXT:
“The enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness…therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.”
Psalm 143: 3, 4
God’s Cure for Fear
“If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.”
Old Chinese saying
“I tried to keep a green bough in my heart, Lord,
tried to reach the cool shade of Your arms,
the cleansing sweetness of Your tears,
and yet, I could not see Your tender eyes
nor hear Your soothing voice
nor feel Your cooling touch,
but You were there with me.
You nourished and sheltered that bough
You – through my ministering angels…angels.
Can I but believe the singing bird will come?”
Patricia B. Clark
What would it mean if I told someone I was fearful or afraid?
Has there been a time in my life when I was so upset and despondent I wished I weren’t alive?
“When you come to the bottom, you find God.”
“But (Elijah), himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave.”
I Kings 19: 4
I take great comfort that one of the “greats” of the Bible, the prophet Elijah, who we studied about for several months, found himself facing a wall of total physical, emotional and spiritual heartache, to the point where in desperation, he asked God just to let him die. He had been hit by his own “triple threat” – Baal, Ahab and Jezebel!
After a victory on Carmel, you might think that like King Jehoshaphat, Elijah would be elated and filled with sublime praise. Rather, the years of running from the rabid pair of Ahab and Jezebel and then having his very life threatened, took their toll. And in a state of great despondency, Elijah collapsed in fear. It was at this point in time when Elijah had enough. His life was in jeopardy. An evil woman had threatened to kill him. So he decided he would get out of her line-of-fire and he ran to the desert where he promptly informed God he wanted to die!
Remember, this was God’s man. The man God had protected repeatedly over the years. Yet, in a moment of intense pain and confusion; in a time of deep trial and sorrow; feeling estranged and alone; this man of God said, “Let me die!” Oh, and one other thing, Elijah wasn’t just any old person when it came to death. Just a few months before, God’s power had worked through him and Elijah gave the gift of life to the widow in Zarapheth’s son. That’s right; he had raised the child from the dead. But driven into an abyss by depression and despair, Elijah was ready to take himself out. He even asked God to help him by saying, “Let me die…life is no longer worth living.”
Has this ever happened to you? Has some event or person or trial or sorrow shoved you so far down and made you question God so much, that life didn’t seem like it was even worth anything, anymore?
Well, I have some news for you. You aren’t alone. All through the Bible, some of God’s most trusted and faithful friends found themselves in a pit of despair. For Joseph it happened when his rotten brothers sold him into slavery. He was taken to Egypt, bought by Potiphar to whom he showed total loyalty only to be falsely accused of adultery by a lecherous wife, who then had him thrown in prison for years. That’s the pits! How about Moses! He had a real reason for despondency. After leading a bunch of griping, ungrateful people toward the Promised Land for 40 years, one slip up – a demonstration of an out-of-control temper -- and he was denied access to Canaan. Then there’s King David. If you ever think you’re alone in the “depressed department,” if you ever feel like death is preferable to life, I’ll assure you, you’re in elite company for David, a man after God’s own heart, suffered terrible bouts of depression chronicled in some of the Psalms where he bemoans his life as our text today shows. Now we come to our dear friend Elijah.
I want to look at several of the reasons that drove Elijah to have an emotional melt down. First, Elijah felt very alone…very isolated. In I Kings 19: 10, Elijah had a very revealing conversation with God. In fact, we get a much better understanding of his emotional state when we read what he said: “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life to take it away.” Almost sounds like King Jehoshaphat who had been a one-man crusade for God, returning the kingdom of Judah to God after the apostasy brought on by none other than Ahab and Jezebel. Elijah laid out his heart to God in black and white. “God, I stood up for You. I was Your leader. I was there for You. I was Your go-to guy. When nobody else loved You…when everybody else rejected You, I was there! What did I get for all my trouble? This wicked woman says, ‘off with my head,’ and I can’t take it. I’m alone. The whole world is against me and I can’t see or hear You, so I want to end it now. Get me out of here – I can’t handle anymore!”
There you have it. A godly man hits an emotional bottom. The same thing can happen to godly women, too! In fact, I believe that at one time or another we’ve all felt this way. I know I have. But praise God, He doesn’t reject us…or get on our case…or deride us for the way we feel.
He does do something though! Actually, God does several things. First, God showed Elijah that He (God) was still alive and well. He came to Elijah, the Bible says, “In a still small voice.” A voice of wonder and hope. Next, God reminded Elijah that “I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (I Kings 19: 18, K.J.V.). God informed Elijah that even when he felt alone – even when he seemed isolated – he wasn’t! Not only was God with him, but he had friends. (Just like you have here in Transformation Garden.)! Like-minded individuals who were standing with him in defense of the God of heaven.
Then God did one more thing, as Elijah began to feel better emotionally – God gave him things to do. In I Kings 19: 15-21 there is a litany of the things God had for Elijah to do. It was probably the greatest work of Elijah’s life, for he anointed new kings and also anointed the young man who would follow in his footsteps and be the one to carry the mantle of Elijah’s service for years to come. As the great preacher C. H. Spurgeon noted, “Before any great achievement, some measure of depression is very usual,” and we certainly see this in the life of Elijah.
Are you faced with feelings of fear, isolation, despair, despondency and loneliness? Do you ever feel death would be better than life? Then I encourage you to do what God told Elijah to do.
1. Reach out to your all-powerful Heavenly Father.
Talk to Him. Tell Him how you feel, just like Elijah did.
2. Reach out to other Godly people. You may be
surprised, like Elijah was at how many people God has
to come to your rescue and assistance.
3. Reach out in service to others. It may well be that
God, like He did with Elijah, has a great work for you
to do that will amaze and shock you.
It is often through the shadows of our emotional sorrow and weariness, that God brings us into His abundant light.
“Go, and know that the Lord goes with you; let him lead you each day into the quiet place of your heart, where he will speak with you; know that he loves you and watches over you – that he listens to you in gentle understanding, that he is with you always, wherever you are and however you may feel; and the blessings of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – be yours for ever.”
“God, I just want to talk to you, I just want to open my soul to you. I don’t want to try to say it right. I don’t want to meet someone else’s expectations of what I should say or what I should believe. I just want to talk to you.
I sit sometimes in a deep well. I can’t get out. I’m so tired of the struggle. I ache. I want to stop time and spend time with me. But time moves on and takes me with it.
God, I’m too tired to hold on, and I don’t know any way out. This aching human part of me, what do I do with this? God, you have abandoned me. I cannot pretend that I feel you here. I cannot pretend that I’m OK. All I can do is hold on and hope this feeling will pass. All I can do is trust that it will stop and when I pass through, you will be there on the other side. Amen.”
Catherine J. Foote
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P. S. Thank you so much for the gifts you send to Transformation Garden which continue to assist our ministry here in the United States and in 192 countries around the world. 100% of your donation goes directly to providing for our daily devotionals and gift bookmarks. Transformation Garden is a non-profit organization so your gift is tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt for any gift you send.
Also, if you should happen to miss a devotional for some reason, you can go to www.transformationgarden.com and you will find archived devotionals. We also place the daily devotionals on Facebook so you can find them on that site also.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com and www.Christianbook.com or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. Thank you so much for your support of Transformation Garden.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.