February 10, 2020
A recent article from Focus on the Family stated, “In our current cultural moment, Christianity has been displaced from its favored status by a secular world view born of the Enlightenment. This has been the cause of lament for some and rejoicing for others. In truth, both responses are warranted to a degree. We rightly mourn the loss of Christian cultural excellence, of a just and civil society rooted in a Judeo-Christian ethic. At the same time, the distinction between the church and the world, between genuine and nominal Christianity, has become clearer than ever before. And this is surely a reason for gratitude.” As believers in 21st Century America, we are challenged to move quickly from discouragement over the latest moral collapse of an evangelical leader to excitement over a court ruling that favors biblical principles. Lately the challenges which lead to worry and despair seem to be winning out. Barna’s research tells us that a whole generation of young adults, who were raised in the church, are walking away from the church, and their parent’s faith as well. In short, there is a lot of discouragement within Christianity over the “state of the church” and the prospects for change any time soon.
An example of someone in the Bible who worried and experienced discouragement, is the prophet Elijah. Elijah was the prophet of God who challenged the false prophets of Baal to a contest to determine who was the true God. When the false prophets failed to get a response from all their gods, Elijah chided them and suggested that maybe their gods were sleeping. He then called on the One true God who sent fire from heaven in a display of His power. Shortly after this great victory the wicked queen Jezebel issued a threat to Elijah that she was going to kill him. You might think that someone who had just seen the power of God displayed in such a magnificent way would be empowered and bold. But, not unlike us, this mighty man of God was scared and ran and hid himself.
The lessons of how God provided for Elijah during that time are exactly how we need to think in the light of the developments in the days that we now live in. First of all, God reminded Elijah of who He was and what He had done in Elijah’s life. Think about it, as believers we have entrusted our eternal souls to God by trusting in His Son for our salvation, but when difficult times come, we have trouble trusting that same God to protect us when our faith is challenged by our culture. In Elijah’s discouragement, God reminded him of who He is and what He had done in Elijah’s life. 1 Kings 19:9-13, “Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here? I have always served you the best that I can,” said Elijah. The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me. Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?”
As you read this today you may have troubles and concerns that you believe are insurmountable. You might think that no one understands your circumstances, and that you are all alone in your despair. May I suggest that you stop and remember what God has done for you. As a believer you have eternal life in heaven, and if you have breath, you have His promise to “never leave you or forsake you.” Listen for that “still small voice” that will remind you that God is in control and the forces of evil will not prevail. Later in the story of Elijah, God also reminded him that he was not alone in his standing against the evil queen. Maybe you feel all alone and you are certain no one else could possibly know how you feel. If you listen to God’s Word, you will be reminded that there are many others who like you are trying to serve God and keep their families together. It is a fact that discouragement can strike any of us at any time, and God’s people are not immune to it. Discouragement can come quickly and leave slowly, but that is the message for us today, that God wants to minister to us when we are discouraged. We don’t have to live under its control if we will listen for that “still small voice” that can reassure us.
The truth is, God’s promises are true no matter what our situation. Through the life of Elijah we learn how Satan used discouragement to render even a great man of God like Elijah helpless. If you are battling with discouragement today, why not take God at His Word and follow the example of Elijah to a full recovery.