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The Blues Can get Your Down
Scripture: 1 Kings 19:1-13; 2 Timothy 3:16
Track 7 of 10 in the Elijah: The Humble Hero series
Running time: 54 minutes, 10 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

There is one thing that is very credible about the Bible, it not only shows the greatness of the heroes found its pages, it also shows their weaknesses as well. We don’t use the Scriptures to fool people into believing what we believe in, Scripture is there for us to learn doctrine, to prove the truth, correct wrong behavior and to teach what is right behavior (2 Timothy 3:16). The one fact we can learn from reading the Bible, the characters found in its pages were real people who lived real lives and were not perfect.

I am glad this portion of scripture is in the story about Elijah. He was a man of great humility and God did great things through him because of his character; but we can’t forget that Elijah was very much human like you and me. He suffered discouragement, despondency and depression. There was even a time that he couldn’t shake it either. He almost gave it all up. No, the Bible doesn’t hide the weakness of its heroes nor their frailties.

If you are a student of the Bible you know that these feelings were not uncommon among many of the great heroes of God. Moses was once so low and discouraged that he asked God to take his life. Jonah, after the great revival at Nineveh, asked for the very same thing. Even the Apostle Paul was in despair at a certain point in his Asian ministry. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Elijah hits rock bottom too. For several years he stood against tremendous odds and circumstances. But now after a great victory, he drops into a period of discouragement and total despair.

Have you ever felt the sting of despair, the heavy weight of discouragement? Maybe you are going through it today. How heavy can it be and what does this do to you physically, mentally and emotionally?

I take medication for depression. People might not know that about me but I struggle with depression a lot. I can have everything go right for me and yet feel so sad at times. The blues is a powerful thing to deal with and no one can explain how it feels until they themselves experience it. All of us have felt the blues in one form or another. Ironically for me, I feel the most blue when things are going great in my life. Elijah falls into this right after one of his greatest victories.

Depression and despair is no laughing matter. There was a study taken recently that the number of suicides, per 100,000 people ages 15 to 19: 11.1 and per 100,000 people ages 75 to 84: 24.9. What is really scary, another researcher found that 23% of men say they deal with depression by trying to figure out their problems and 35% say they deal with depression by watching television.

When you feel down or depressed, what seems to help you get out of the funky mood?

As we get into our lesson this morning, we will see there are 4 characters involved in this sad segment: Ahab, Jezebel, Elijah and God. First we have Ahab who was dominated by his wife Jezebel.

1 Kings 19:1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.

We can just imagine what Jezebel had to say about all her prophets being killed. Ahab was not a strong leader in his home and there is no doubt Jezebel ran the family and probably ran the country as well. She was a domineering wife who didn’t have to think about what her next move was.

1 Kings 19:2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

From this one statement made by Jezebel, describe for me how she likes to handle problems, her relationship with her husband and her style of leadership? Think a minute, who is she actually threatening? In all that we just studied about Elijah, what is he capable of if he has faith in God? Is she any match for Elijah or God?

Well, Elijah is a man; he’s human, just like us. I don’t know about you guys but when a mad woman comes after me, my first step is not toward her that is for sure. So we shouldn’t be too shocked to read the next set of verses:

1 Kings 19:3-4 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

I want you to look here at the map of Israel. How far did Elijah run to get away from Jezebel? Now the question is why? Why did Elijah fear Jezebel so much and not Baal or the 850 prophets of Baal or King Ahab? Why Jezebel?

First: Elijah was not thinking realistically or clearly.
Think about this a minute, who is threatening Elijah? Describe her for me. In all that you just described, what makes you think she is any match against Elijah with God on his side? If Elijah were thinking clearly, what should the pep talk been to himself?

Grandpa Jack once said this: If you get kicked by a mule, don’t let it bother you. Just consider the source. What does that mean?

If a carnal person kicks you, just consider the source. We shouldn’t be surprised about their action. What should Elijah have done in this situation?

Second: Elijah separated himself from strengthening relationships.
When he went to Beersheba, what was the first thing he did? He left his servant and went on alone. Discouraged and depressed people are lonely people. When I feel depressed, it is easy for me to slip off on my own than to go out and be with a whole group of people.

Did you notice where Elijah ended up after he finally stopped? He sat under a juniper tree or what was then called a broom tree. It really isn’t a tree. It is more a bush and in it’s common size not very large and doesn’t give a lot of shade especially for more than 1 person. The point is, beneath the barren branches of discouragement and loneliness there is little shade yet many people go there for comfort and covering.

Third: Elijah was caught in the backwash of a great victory.
Here we see this again. How many times have we seen with our Bible heroes tremendous difficulties or testing following a great victory. We saw it with Samson, with David and now Elijah. We get to the mountain top and get to celebrate the climb only to be faced with the reality of descending back to regular life. It can have a devastating affect on people especially for those who have struggled all their life to achieve something and once they do, now what?

If you were Elijah on Mt. Carmel and had just seen God ignite the sacrifice and consume the offering, if you could hear all the people chanting that God was really God, how fast do you think your heart would be beating? How pumped do you think Elijah was when he killed all the prophets, saw God bring rain for the first time in 3 years and then outran Ahab on his chariot for 13 miles to Jezreel?

All this provides an analogy worth remembering in our spiritual lives. The big battle on Carmel was past. The great victory was now only a memory. Elijah’s energy and emotion began to slide. Even though he probably knew killing the prophets of Baal would tick Jezebel off, he was ready for that and he expected it.

So why did he fall into depression? Why did he become vulnerable?

Fourth: He was physically exhausted and physically spent.
Think about this, for years Elijah had lived his life on the edge. He was public enemy #1. Those years in hiding were tough and rough and he lived close to starvation for most of the time. And on top of that, his own people hated him and were worshiping idols. They were being led astray by corrupt prophets and evil leaders. Don’t underestimate the power of physical pressure to weaken the spiritual strength of a person. There is an old Greek saying that says:

You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.

What about you? Are you always bent? Do you allow yourself any time to relax, enjoy life? Are you always under pressure? Why? Is it something you can’t control or is it caused by your own actions that has now gotten out of control? When do you think it will end?

How much sleep do you get a night? How much rest do you allow yourself to get? Do you plan rest in your daily schedule? How much sleep do you think you would get if you would never turn the TV on for a whole week? How would your life change?

Be honest, have you ever said to yourself, under your breath, “right now might be a good time for God to come back.” I have to be honest with you; I have said that before and meant it. And when I looked back to those times, I was totally exhausted. I was tired and just fed up with things at the moment. And in every case, I was exhausted due to my own fault. I was too busy trying to chase something or be somebody and my schedule got out of control.

Fifth: Elijah got lost in his self pity.

Someone describe for me what self pity is? How pathetic an emotion self pity is. No one is there to feel sorry for you so you have to do it yourself. Self pity is dangerous because it lies to you, it will exaggerate. It will drive you to tears. It will cultivate a “victim mentality” in your head. And in the worse case scenario, it may even get you to kill yourself. What a great victory for Satan if he could have gotten Elijah to kill himself.

What is wrong with this statement said by Elijah?

1 Kings 19:4 “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Who said that he had to be better than his ancestors? No one did. Self pity lied to him and said he had to be. Self pity sets standards that too often higher than we can achieve. We need to look to God’s standards. He created us and knows us and gives us only what we can handle.

1 Kings 19:5-8 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 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.” 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.

This is a perfect picture of God at his best. If you ever want to see mercy at its best, here is the description. Here is a great man for God who just went off the deep end. He is exhausted, hungry, alone. God sent an angel to take care of him. But notice how God did it!

First: God allowed Elijah to rest and get refreshed.
There was no blame, no shame, no questions. There was no pep talk or encouragement to get back to the job. Just a gentle meeting of his most immediate needs; rest and nourishment. Look at the result, Elijah was able to journey 40 days and nights from what he received fro God.

Second: God communicated wisely with Elijah.

1 Kings 19:9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

What is so wise about how God dealt with Elijah? What was God’s tactic?

There was no lecture or ranting on the part of God at Elijah for getting weak at the wrong moment and running away from Jezebel. All God did was ask a question of clarification. Why is a clarification question important to ask at this moment?

1 Kings 19:10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Elijah was speaking the words of self pity. He believed the lies of self pity. He was drowning in self pity.

I love God’s response to this whole thing. His response is not quite what you think. God is so merciful and patient with man and he shows it here with Elijah. The scene is in a dark cave. Elijah is telling God his pitiful story when God says:

1 Kings 19:11-13 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

What is God doing here? What was the whole purpose of this event; all the crashing of mountains, the powerful wind, the fire, the gentle voice?

The purpose was to get Elijah to come out of the cave of self pity and only after Elijah was out of the cave did God ask him again why he was there. Elijah told God the same thing but this time it was not out of self pity but it was as fact with faith so God could guide him on to what was next. God set him straight as to how things really were and that he was not alone. There were actually 7,000 who had not bowed to Baal in Israel.

Third: God gave Elijah a close, personal friend.
Here is where Elisha comes into the life of Elijah. Everyone needs one close personal friend to help keep the compass set to due north in life. We all need someone to pull us out of the cave and wake us up when we get into these days of blues and depression. God did not design us to live like hermits in a cave. He designed us to have friendships and fellowship in a community with others. That is why the church is so important in the life of a Christian. It is there that we are drawn together in love and mutual encouragement away from the blues in life.