I admit it, I struggle with worry, I deal with anxiety and I have been depressed. God doesn’t want any of these for me. He wants me to remember those little birds and how He cares for them. I am loving birds so much more than I used to. I look for them when I’m in a dark place. I see their beauty, grace and carefree-ness and I long for their natural tendencies. Oh, to shrink down and be a bird for a day; to fly high above the world’s problems and pain; to rest in a green tree and not worry about all the how’s and why’s; to play in a birdbath in the front yard and not care who’s watching or judging; to wake up every morning chirping and singing away. But, reality is, birds have to fly against stormy winds. Birds have predators (like my cat) coming after them. Birds get knocked down or even fly straight into a glass window. Yes, God takes care of the little birds, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible.
I was reading recently about Elijah. He seemed invincible at one point in his ministry. He prayed and it didn’t rain for 3 years. He prayed fire down from Heaven and everyone there knew there was a God. Elijah knew the power of God and he knew sweet victory, but he also knew defeat and depression. He struggled with fear and felt alone. He knew God could take care of him, yet he ran and hid from an evil woman. God did miracles through him, yet he prayed and asked God to take his life. What happened to Elijah? How did he go from an “on fire” prophet to depressed and hiding alone in a cave?
I chuckle a little when I think about the early years in our ministry. There was so much joy and excitement in serving the Lord. Perhaps in my naiveness I thought we were invincible. I guess I thought that by forsaking the world to follow God we would live happily ever after. LOL. That didn’t happen, but one day it will.
Elijah forsook the world to live for the Lord. He did what God told him to do, went where God wanted him to go. Many lives were changed because of his ministry and yet we read he gets to a dark place where he wanted to die. Could it be he thought there would be a different outcome because he was following the Lord? After God sent fire down from Heaven, did Elijah think King Ahab and Jezebel would repent and turn to God and that all of Israel would follow suit? Could it be when that didn’t happen, and things actually got worse, Elijah became discouraged and that discouragement led to a deep dark depression? The Bible says, anxiety in the heart of man causes depression. Elijah had let some negative thoughts get in his heart and it led him to a cave of self-pity and hopelessness. Elijah wanted to quit. He wanted out of the ministry.
Does this happen to us when we don’t get the results we thought we would? Many times, like Elijah, we do our best, we follow God, we witness, we teach, we pray desperate prayers for those we love and when things don’t go like we think they should we become discouraged and start looking for a cave to retreat to. I know I have done this. I have been so wounded, disappointed and hurt by people that I didn’t want to be in ministry anymore. I wanted to be that little bird and just fly away from it all.
Elijah didn’t die in that dark cave of despair. God showed up and He let Elijah know He wasn’t finished with him yet. There was still work to do!
How about you, are you in a cave? If so, what got you there? People’s opinions? Not seeing the results you wanted? Out of fear, have you run from people or what God has called you to do? (I’m speaking to myself as I write this and I’m not proud of my answers).
Let me encourage you and myself that God’s not done with us either! God promised that the work He started in us, He will finish! With God’s help we can come out of that “I want to quit” cave and get back to the work God had called us to do! Our happily ever-after will happen one day, just not here and until then, there is much work to be done! Don’t give up! God’s got this! I’m praying for you.