Discouragement is a very real problem in our world today, even among Christians. Have you ever felt so discouraged with life that it was difficult to get out of bed or go to work? There have been plenty of great men and women of God down through the ages who have experienced the same problem! When I am discouraged, I am reminded of two men in the Bible who had a much worse day than me: David and Elijah. The stories of David and Elijah offer us some insight in how we can deal with discouragement and rise victorious.
But he 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; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.—1 Kings 19:4–7
In this passage, Elijah was very discouraged, so discouraged that he even asked God to take his life! The first thing God did for Elijah was provide him a chance to rest physically. Elijah needed some rest! He had just faced off against the prophets of Baal, he had just prayed fire from Heaven, and then had prayed rain from Heaven, and now he was on the run from Jezebel. Elijah was exhausted!
This may sound more like practical advice than spiritual advice, but I believe it is both. If you have a day off, use it well to rest. If you have vacation time, take it! Do not keep going until you completely collapse, take time to steward your body and rest!
Seek God’s Face
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. —1 Samuel 30:6-8
David and his men had just arrived at their home in Ziklag, only to find that it had been burnt to the ground and that the women and children had been taken captive. To make matters worse for David, the men were so angry that they wanted to stone him! This was a dark time for David, but we are told that he encouraged himself in the Lord. How did he encourage himself in the Lord? He sought the mind and will of God!
When we are discouraged, one of the best things we can do is dig deep into the Word of God and spend time in prayer. Too often, we are discouraged as Christians because we are not regularly spending time in the Word of God in the first place! Speaking with God and seeking His will is a place of rest and comfort. Why do we so often seek encouragement from outside sources, when all we need to do is to seek the Lord?
Remember Past Victories
Elijah was discouraged when Jezebel threatened to kill him, but 1 Kings 18 tells us that less than 24 hours earlier he had experienced one of the most amazing spiritual victories ever! He had prayed fire from Heaven, proving definitively that God was stronger than Baal. Why didn’t Elijah remember the victories he had just experienced? This is a question I ask myself often when I read the Bible: Why did the children of Israel still doubt after the parting of the Red Sea? Why did the disciples still wonder where they were going to find food after the feeding of the 5,000?
It is a question that often convicts my own heart when I am discouraged, “Why are you discouraged when God has done all of these wonderful things for you?” On bad days, or days when I do not know how I am going to make it, it is important for me to remember the other times God has worked on my behalf. If God has been faithful to me in the past, why wouldn’t He be faithful to me now? Remember what God has already done for you, and be assured that he will help you through this difficulty as well!
Do not allow discouragement to demobilize you from serving the Lord! Get up, get encouraged, and get back to work. God has given us plenty of means to be encouraged on bad days!