In 1 Kings 19:4 we read that Elijah "requested for himself that he might die:" Why did Elijah desire to die, especially after his great defeat over the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel recorded in 1 Kings 18?
Discouragement! Even though God had just given the prophet Elijah a great victory, the wicked Jezebel has sworn to kill him, and he is discouraged. In 1 Kings 19:10 Elijah said, “He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” Elijah had been faithful and always obedient to God and yet things never seemed to let up or get easier. Elijah felt discouraged and all alone but God said, “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18).
Discouragement is a common problem today - especially in 2020! How often do we feel like Elijah, discouraged because even though we are striving to be faithful things do not ever seem to go our way. Perhaps COVID-19, the recent election, problems at home or on the job are getting us down. It might be that we are discouraged because of problems in the church or among our friends. Whatever the problem we need to overcome our discouragement!
We must realize that discouragement is dangerous! It will defeat and disarm us when there are battles to be fought and won. Discouragement causes idleness, self-pity and distracts us from the work before us. It is also very contagious. It will spread to our family, friends, co-workers and especially our fellow Christians. If not dealt with quickly it can cause untold damage (physically and spiritually). I would like to suggest a few things that we can do to overcome discouragement.
First of all, when we become discouraged, we should pray. In 1 Samuel 30:6 we read, "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." Jesus spent his last hours before the cross in prayer. The apostle Paul wrote, "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7).
God's word will help us overcome discouragement. David, by inspiration, declared that God is like a Shepherd who supplies love and care for us, his sheep. A study of the Bible will increase our faith (Romans 10:17) and encourage us (Philippians 4:13). Psalms 37:39 says, "But the salvation of the righteousness is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble." Philippians 4:19 is a comforting passage, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Christian fellowship will not only help us to overcome discouragement, but it will help to prevent it. “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”. (Hebrews 10:25).
All of us need encouragement (exhorting) and we should gain encouragement each time we assemble with our brethren for Bible study and worship. No one should be more understanding, sympathetic and encouraging than our fellow Christians.
We cannot afford to become discouraged! As Children of God we have the best work before us with the promise of the best benefits and the best reward awaiting us!
In Nehemiah 8:8 we are told, “So they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading”. Understanding the word of God is no different for us. We must “read in the book” before we can begin to understand.
No one would expect to master any discipline without first studying in that field. Likewise, to understand the Bible, we must dig into its depths. Dig deep, for therein one will find great, eternal treasures. –Marty Edwards