In my last post, we explored the symptoms and causes of discouragement as we explored 1 Kings 19:1-20 where Elijah has run away from Jezebel who is threatening his life and he is sitting under the broom tree. He is tired, negative, isolated, fearful, opting out and suicidal. Sounds a bit drastic perhaps, but all of us walk around with a level of discouragement in our hearts and it steals our hope for the future, our faith about the future and our drive for God’s purposes for us in the future. Discouragement – to be without courage – is not to be ignored. Thankfully, God also wants to save us from discouragement.
God does not abandon Elijah. God sets out to rescue Him from discouragement.
First God sends a messenger, an angel to provide two things: bread and water. God says : “Get up and eat, the journey is too much for you.” God understands exactly where we are, and is aware that we need rest. God gives us rest as a gift (Heb 4:9-10). He Himself partakes in rest (at creation). The first things God does is allows Elijah to rest. Have you rested lately? When we come to a place of rest it is important that we nurture not just our physical body, but our spiritual body too. (John 6:35)
For this reason God sends messengers into your life that carry with them bread to sustain your spiritual body. The Word of God is bread sent to build up and sustain our spiritual person (Matt 4:4). God will also send water, the Holy Spirit, to revive and give life to us. These will sooth and refresh us if we allow it to do the work. (Neh 9:20) Very often, we want a quick fix to our rest, but God’s rest is deep soul rest, not a nap.
During this time the Lord fed Him first to restore what he had lost: his vision; energy and passion and then fed him to strengthen Elijah for a journey. God still had plans for Elijah, a journey of forty days and forty nights to Mt Horeb, to meet with God.
Secondly, even though Elijah could not see his future, God had plans for the future, to meet with Elijah. However there was a period of forty days and forty nights before the meeting place. During this time, Elijah would continually partake in the bread and water that would prepare his soul for that meeting place. We often eat our spiritual bread and water and want to arrive at the destination of meeting place with God immediately. God prepared the heart and mind of Elijah for what He was going to show him on mount Horeb. During this time, Elijah had time to reflect on the past, to think about his heart, his thoughts, his attitudes. He had time to think about God; to prepare to talk to Him; to fast and pray.
We are all in danger of wanting to meet with God to ask our questions, to state our case, to declare how unfair the whole situation is, without doing the preparation of our heart and mind for that meeting. When this preparation period was completed, Elijah was prepared to receive the message that God was going to give him. I do not believe Elijah would have been ready to receive what God was going to show him, if he had not had this season of preparation. When we are working with God to heal our discouragement, we need to give this time (our own “forty days”) for God to prepare and heal our hearts.
Thirdly, when Elijah arrives at Mt Horeb, God asks in verse 9: “What are you doing here Elijah?” God will ask you questions to help evaluate where you are. This helps to locate yourself on your journey with God. Elijah has had forty days to prepare his answer, in fact he says it word for word, twice! God asks us questions, often more than once, in order that we can locate where we are and where He is. It is important to take the time to get this perspective, to see yourself in relation to God and His purposes.
Then God in His grace, reveals Himself to Elijah. Just as He does for Jonah in the whale, Moses in the burning bush and Peter after resurrection. God reveals Himself to us, His purposes and agenda for our lives. There is so much that can be said about Elijah’s encounter with God, which is not for discussion today, but essentially Elijah has a fresh revelation of God.
We need to “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord…” until the Lord passes by and gives us fresh revelation of Himself. We often rush into the presence of the Lord with our prepared speech, our demands from Him, but are not prepared to wait in His presence until we have a fresh revelation of Him. God will always reveal Himself to us if we stand in His presence long enough. (James 4:8)
God restores us for His purposes
God restores Elijah because God still had work for Elijah to do. We too, need to come before the Lord to restore us from our discouragement, because if you are still on earth, God still has work for us to do.
Then lastly, God sends Elijah back the way he came. Elijah was exactly where God was working; he had lost the way in discouragement for a while. He had to go back, so that he can review his thoughts and meditations in light of the Lord’s revelation to Him. God also sends him with instructions for the future. When we meet with God in His presence, God is not interested in discussing our past, He is interested in discussing our future.
God is about the business of Kingdom building and His instructions to Elijah were not for Elijah’s sake, but for the sake of others. Elijah had to anoint Kings to bring God’s justice as well as anoint and prepare Elisha, son of Shaphat who after thirteen years of preparation would receive a double portion of the Holy Spirit and train prophets in a school for God’s Kingdom purposes in the future.
God’s activity in restoring us, is never just about ourselves. God restores us because He still has plans and purposes that have not changed while we were discouraged. God restores us because there is work to be done for other people, God restores us for Kingdom purposes.
Thank you Lord that in relationship with You, You reveal yourself to us. Help me to rest properly, to do the preparation of my heart and to answer the question you ask my heart as I work to get over my discouragement. Help me to stay in Your Presence long enough to have a fresh revelation of You. Thank You that there are plans for my future that are not just about myself. You have got much planned for me and I will be able to serve You in Kingdom building.