When Despair Grabs Hold

We know of a certainty that God is a miracle-working God.  We know He can do anything.  We believe His Word to be absolutely true.  We are thankful that He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us.  We know we are not worthy, and we gratefully receive His forgiveness and acceptance of us into His family.  We revel in the promise that when we leave this earth, we will live in perfect happiness with Him in heaven forever.

We happily declare the above to be true.  Our desires are to live in His joy right now on earth.  We know God is a loving Father and He can help us through anything.  However, we sometimes find ourselves in situations that pull our rug of happiness out from under our feet.  Life’s cruel circumstances fall down around us, and we become like a bird in a net flapping wildly to get out.  Nothing we try, in order to free ourselves from our situation, works.  In the end, like the bird who has exhausted itself with effort, we stop and stare wide-eyed in fear.  We hate to admit it, and perhaps we tell no one, but deep inside we know — we are heavy-hearted — despondent.

This is where our arch enemy, Satan enters the scene.  Does he feel sorry for us in our difficult circumstances?  Of course not!  He loves to see us fall down so he can kick us some more!  He lies to us, too, big time!  He says things like, “some Christian you are,” or “you’re a terrible witness,” or “failed again, huh?” or “just give it up now; you know you can’t be a winner; you’re a born loser,” or “God helps everybody but you, have you noticed?” or “God sure is being unfair not answering your prayers,” or “forget God now; He’s never going to help you.”  On and on go the lies of the evil one who hates our heavenly Father with a passion, and lives for every moment to bring confusion, gloom, and anger, into the life of any Christian who will listen to him.

What a mess we are in at such times in our lives!  Nothing goes right;  God doesn’t seem to be listening, and on top of all that, here comes Satan to rain despair on our already dismal parades.  What in the world can we do?

I find that taking a reminder from Elijah helps me when I’m down in the pits.  Let’s take a look at the following true story.  There was Elijah, a successful prophet, used big time by God, performing mind-blowing miracles — but one day, in spite of all his godly living, Elijah becomes demoralized — weighed down with a crushed spirit.   Why?  What happened?  The evil Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, despises Elijah.  She hates all he does in the name of God.  She sends him a message.  The following is found in I Kings 19:2-4, “So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: ‘May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you…’  Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.  He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.  Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day.  He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.  ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said.  ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.'”   

Goodness, gracious!  Poor Elijah!  Such a strong man of God, but circumstances of life pulled his rug of happiness out from under him, and now we see him running scared, even to the point of not wanting to live anymore.  Can we identify with Elijah?  Absolutely.  When we get scared, what do we so often do?  We keep to ourselves.  Suddenly we don’t want to see friends, we make excuses to stay away from church, we just want to be alone in our despair.  We’re down in the dumps, and like Elijah, we put ourselves into a wilderness.  Being alone, we then have no one to listen to but ourselves and the lies of Satan.  Before we know it, like Elijah, we too, have melancholy thoughts.  Despondency and pessimism grabs us by the throat, choking away our last ounce of hope.  Like Elijah, we think we may as well end it all now.  What more is there to live for?  On and on go the dreadful thoughts.  We’re trapped and there’s no way out!

But wait!  The story doesn’t end there.  Read on through verse 14.  You will see that during the first night of Elijah’s wilderness experience, an angel came to give him bread and water to eat.  What a reminder to us that, just as God was watching over Elijah in his misery and fear, so God will watch over us, too, and provide for our needs.  Further on in the story, we see God having a conversation with Elijah who pours out his woes.  Way to go, Elijah!  We, too, must remember that our Father is always ready to converse with us, and He wants us to pour out our hurts to Him.  After Elijah tells God of all his worries, God speaks something in verse 15 that is an amazing truth that we, today, can apply to our lives in our own moments of anxiety and distress.  God says to Elijah, “Go back the same way you came…”   Go back?  To where?  Go back to the place you were with God, before life’s circumstances made you run away from Him and everybody else, into a wilderness place.

Go back and remind yourself of the blessings that God has bestowed upon you.  Go back and remember the last time God helped you out of a tough spot.  Go back to times you felt alone and God sent a friend.  Go back to the last time you sensed God’s sweet presence; ask for a touch from Him again.

Continuing on in the wilderness only promises  feelings of aloneness and despair.  Going back to fellowship with Father promises hope and comfort, guidance and courage.  We all get dreadfully low in spirit.  We can choose the wilderness or we can choose to — go back.

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