Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hiding in a Cave of Discouragement

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” -I Kings 19:9-11 (NKJV) 

I remember one morning a number of years ago when I sat on the side of my bed with my face in my hands wondering how I would make it through another day.  I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, discouraged, and spiritually defeated.  This experience left me so completely dejected that I wondered how I would ever rise up again and proclaim the gospel to others.  How could I encouraged and urge people forward to new heights of faith when I myself was feeling so low?  The Scripture says the prophet Elijah suffered a similar experience.  He too struggled with the same feelings of defeat and discouragement.  Elijah had seen awesome victories and incredible movements of the Spirit of God.  Yet, he experienced overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair.   

The Bible says at one point Elijah actually went and hid in a cave.  This is not where a mighty prophet of God is supposed to be.  Instead, a prophet is to be out proclaiming God’s love and power to a lost world.  We see how compassionate the Lord was with Elijah.  God came to him and gently asked him a question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Notice the calm and loving way in which the Lord addressed the prophet.  There was no condemnation, no threats, and no rebuke; just a kind word from God who is always willing to help in our time of need. 

“I have been zealous for the Lord, yet your people have forsaken Your covenant, broken down Your altars, and I alone am left – and they are trying to kill me too!” Poor Elijah; how like this we are sometimes.  Discouragement typically causes us to feel extremely sorry for ourselves and we begin to count our many sorrows.  However, the Lord was not going to give up on Elijah.  God invited the prophet to come out of the cave and go stand on the mountain.  Once he did this he witnessed the wondrous power of God, he heard the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit, and he got his life back on track. 

Now, about that day I sat on my bedside; God empowered me to rise up and go forward.  Like Elijah, the Lord invited me to go and stand on the mountain of His grace and power.  I am still listening daily to His voice.  You can as well.  Do not hide in the cave of defeat any longer.  Come up and stand on the mountain. The Lord will meet you there. 

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