Yesterday I fought against discouragement–for no apparent reason. Except perhaps that I was over-tired. In fact, I’m starting to notice a pattern, and although I usually keep my “down days” to myself, I wondered if perhaps I wasn’t not alone. And I believe the Christian life is meant to be lived out loud so that we can learn, encourage, and strengthen one another. So, I’m sharing my discouragement with you. Aren’t you lucky?
Most days I’m pretty happy, but every once in a while when my energy level wears thin or my to-do-list balloons–BAM!–discouragement hits me square in the nose. Not a fun feeling, but honestly, I should have seen it coming.
I’ve been on overdrive since June, and it appears I’ve finally hit the crash and burn stage. Certainly didn’t help matters that, after pushing myself a bit harder than I should have, I stayed up late reading. So, I woke up behind and tired. Not a good combination. Yep, I asked for a gloomy day.
I’m working on a tween devo project with another writer and just happened to be on the story of Elijah. Funny how God does that. Fighting against my own discouragement, I found the account in 1 Kings 19 very comforting! Although, unlike me, Elijah actually had a right to be discouraged! Well, kind of, minus the fact that his discouragement rode on the heels of some pretty amazing miracles. In chapter seventeen, God fed him through ravens. Then God used him to feed a widow’s family, then raise her son from the dead. In chapter eighteen, through Elijah, God made a mockery of the prophets of Baal and Asherah when flames consumed his water-drenched offering. Shortly thereafter, God sent rain, then gave Elijah special strength, allowing him to run ahead of King Ahab’s chariot.
But when we get to chapter nineteen, Elijah learns Jezebel wants to kill him. He fled and it wasn’t long before his energy drained. Spent and discouraged, he collapsed beneath a tree and begged God to take his life.
Now that’s discouraged.
But notice what God does in verses 5-9 (NIV)
5Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
God fed him and gave Elijah time to rest. Then, do you notice what Elijah did? He went to the mountain of God–he spent time with God, to be strengthened and encouraged by His Creator.
So how’d I handle my burgeoning discouragement yesterday? I let God love it away. Instead of allowing discouragement to steal my joy, I 1) took time to rest, 2) took care of my physical needs by eating nourishing food 3) spent time with my Heavenly Father and 4) remembered all the great things He has done.
And hopefully, the next time a wave of discouragement comes, before I allow the gloom to settle, I’ll step back, evaluate the situation and my state of mind, remembering Elijah and what God did to pull Elijah back on his feet.
I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite verses–one I hold tight to.
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Draw near to God today and tuck this promise in your heart, knowing God is there, surrounding you in His unfailing love. He is inviting you in His throne room, to sit at His feet and to rest. To be refreshed and made new. To be loved unconditionally, completely.
What about you? How do you handle those moments of discouragement?