When we are battling with our own hearts-regardless of the reason for the struggle- we can find ourselves in a life and death tug of war. despair, that darkest of human emotions, can woo us, entice us, and even destroy us. Sometimes we meet it at
- our job, when we don't get what we think we have earned;
- in our family, when our expectations remain unfulfilled;
- in our church, when we are inevitably disappointed with frail, flawed people;
- in our society, when it seems that the tide is going in the wrong direction
- in our lives when things become out of control due to the death of a loved one.
Here, he becomes a man we all can relate to because Elijah's greatest battle was fought, not on Mount Carmel but in a cave at Horeb -not so unlike the situations we have all been in. This battle now was not against Baal but against himself. Oh, we are full of faith, we have the anointing, and we flow in the gifts of the spirit when we are in church. As preachers, the Lord uses us mightily to deliver an awesome word to the people of God. As prophets the Word of the Lord is spoken mightily into the lives of many people individually and collectively, But the problem comes when we return to our normal everyday life existence. It is in our conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind where the battle is the greatest. It is there where the demons of despair, fear, depression and oppression run freely, like children at play in a playground.
The Roots of Despair
Ahab told Queen Jezebel what happened on the high place of Carmel: The prophets of Baal (which she had brought to Israel) were dead, and Baal had been overthrown. Jezebel sent a message to Elijah: "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time" 19:2. In other words, "You will receive the same treatment you gave my prophets, execution.
What was Elijah's response to Jezebel's threat? He ran! this was the same fearless man who had just defeated 450 prophets of Baal the day before, and now he is on the run from a demonically possessed woman. This is the same guy who said, "If the Lord is God, follow Him, " was not fleeing in despair. what contributed to his despair? I'm glad you asked.
Success. There is often a letdown following moments of great success. In the afterglow of victory, it can be difficult to face the challenges of normal life. During my daughter's sickness, I continued going to church, I continued preaching, I continued praying and interceding for others. The Lord used me to do His bidding and people were getting blessed.
Fatigue. Fatigue often follows intense periods of stress, especially when accompanied by physical exhaustion. This is the "post-Carmel" Elijah- spent, fatigued, and, as a result, vulnerable.
Fear. Jezebel was certainly a woman who could strike fear into the hearts of those who crossed her. And Elijah had done that when he defeated the gods she had brought with here from Phoenicia.
when we face a person or a circumstance that seems to be against us and could harm us, it is natural to be fearful. We know Elijah was fearful, fore he "ran for his life" (2).
Disappointment. It is likely that Elijah was disappointed with the people. On Carmel, they shouted, "The Lord, He is God!" Now they would allow him to be killed. At times, despair happens when people don't behave as we think they should. After the passing of my husband, I had certain expectations of the people based on his position in the church. But I became disappointed because their response wasn't always whatI I hoped it would be. Immediate response overwhelming but i think that often has to do with the initial shock that we experience at hearing the bad news. After time the calls and visits become fewer and fewer. And when you do return to your job or church most of the responses you get are: "Chile I'm praying for you." Toda, you are most likely to get a text message, because we have abandoned that personal touch for technology and impersonal communication.
Loneliness. This is the burden of leadership. When you are a leader, anointed, and appointed, people naturally believe that your faith will take you through your moments of despair and loneliness. Some feel that you no longer need the telephone call or visit, so they stop calling. I am of the belief that every church should have a "Bereavement Ministry." in fact one of the chargers and responsibilities of the Deacons Ministry is to take care of the orphans and widows. However, not everybody has the gift of compassion and mercy. Individuals who believe the Lord has placed this type of ministry in their heart, should receive some outside training from a professional group, such as Hospice, Chaplaincy Department of a hospital, or some other social work agency.
Elijah had faced much loneliness over the past 42 months. Twice he had faced Ahab alone. He had lived in the wilderness alone for a long period of time. He traveled to and from Zarephath, it seems, by himself. And even as he stood up to all those prophets of Baal, he stood alone. This leader was clearly a lonely man. These are the roots of his despair. weary, just off the mountaintop, fearful, disappointed, and by himself. Elijah had waited 31/2 years for one glorious day of triumph and now he was burned out and alone. How did this "man like us" respond to the despair that was creeping into his heart?
I will deal with that in part 2. Lol
Have a great start of the work week. Make each moment and day count.
"Don't Forget To Say Your Prayers."