Good Morning, Afternoon or evening depending on where you may be in the world. I truly hope this new post finds you well. Without wasting time I want to go straight to the point and topic of today’s post – Tired, beaten down & defeated – GET UP!
You may be sitting there thinking easier said than done, or your situation is unlike any other. You may have totally given up altogether and your energy may be completely spent and drained. So the question becomes how in the world do I just ‘get-up’?
Well I want to start by saying that you are not the first person to feel this way and neither will you be the last. So many different things can cause us to give up. The loss of a loved one, broken friendships or relationships, seemingly unending trials. But know that God will truly never leave or forsake you. Some of the greatest people in the Bible endured great trials, during which at times some of them felt totally defeated.
So this picture was taken on Mount Kilimanjaro in February 2013. What makes it so significant is the fact that it was taken less then 200 metres from the summit. Mount Kilimanjaro is exactly 5895 metres high and it is the tallest free standing mountain in the world. It was at this point that I had given up. I was absolutely tired, totally and utterly shattered, I had completely lost sight of the goal. Forget the fact that I had already overcome the worst of it and was literally a few minutes from victory, I was worn out. In this picture you can see me sitting down with my guide standing next to me. Guess what my words were to him? “Just leave me here”.
I’m laughing now because having made it to the summit, it seems so nonsensical that I would give up so close to victory; but when you are going through tough times or trials you often lose sight of the finish line even though it is in clear view. My guide kept telling me to get up, and I kept on protesting that I would not. He grabbed hold of my arm and placed it around his shoulders, got me up and started walking along with me. I had to keep moving, it was minus 15 degrees Celsius and it was just not practical to stop, even dangerous. He then said some of the most encouraging words any person has ever spoken to me in my hour of need: “Look around you, who else is here? You are a strong woman, you have made it, now let’s move”.
What I had failed to do whilst sat down feeling sorry for myself, was realise that we were in fact the first ones on the summit that morning. I had not realised how far we had come and what a great victory we had achieved even at that point.
Life is often like that, when we feel our most dejected, our most tired; that so often is in fact the point at which we are so very close to victory over the situation that is effecting our lives.
Today I want to look at a great man of God, arguably the greatest prophet in the Bible & a situation in which he had completely given up and what God was doing behind the scenes. This man’s name was Elijah.
Now if you know anything about Elijah you will know this is a man that did nothing by half measure. He followed & obeyed God so zealously it often meant his life was in danger. The passage I’m going to use today is 1 Kings 19, but I will give you a quick back drop to how he arrived at this point.
Now in the previous chapter Elijah had gone through what I would like to call a spiritual high. He had literally called down fire from heaven on Mount Carmel in front of all the people; demonstrating God to be the one true God over all their false gods & idols. He had experienced Gods supernatural strength to do the extraordinary. I can only imagine what his expectations must have been following these events. Perhaps he thought; this is it finally they will see. I like to think he expected immediate change throughout Israel, some kind of positive response to this miraculous feat. Instead the response he got was the total opposite.
1 Kings 19 (NIV)
1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 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.”
Instead of bringing about a great revolution, revival, or fear of the Lord, it had the opposite effect. Elijah’s life was now in danger. What comes as such a surprise is the way in which Elijah reacted to this situation. The brave, unwavering Elijah we see in the previous chapter, is now left depressed with his faith and focus shattered.
1 Kings 19 (NIV)
3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, 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.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
Isn’t this really something? The first time I read this passage with understanding, I could not see how such a mighty man like Elijah had been reduced to this. I don’t know about you, but when I give up I quite literally go into hibernation. I can lose days between my sheets feeling hopeless. Elijah had reached the point where he could no longer see the purpose, and he even wanted to die. That’s how defeated he was. This is one of the most descriptive passages of defeatism in the Bible – Elijah was truly depressed.
Now even though he was feeling as though God had forgotten him, this was not the case. So often we can feel as though the presence of God has left us even though this is impossible. God will never leave nor forsake us, but at times our minds can lead us to feel abandoned. Even in his great depression God was still right there with Elijah providing for all of his needs as the next few verses show us.
1 Kings 19 (NIV)
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 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.” 8 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. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
You see even in this low point, God knew exactly how Elijah was feeling and also what he needed. The angel of the Lord knew he was tired, knew he had run out of strength and knew he needed encouragement. This is a prime example of God’s great providence. However there is something very significant that should be noted here. Elijah was so drained and tired, it’s almost as if he couldn’t even see or appreciate this providence. We do not see him say thank you or praise the Lord for this miracle, instead in vs 6 we are told he lies straight back down again.
How many of you have done this? I know I certainly have. When you feel like God has abandoned you, you fail to see the blessing of providence He has given to you. For example you may have lost you job or been unemployed for a while, but you have been fed. Have you thanked God for that providence. It is so important that we look at the “small” blessings as well as the “big” blessings. God means it when He says He Himself cares for us. If this is you, stop for a moment and think of all the things God has done in the meantime, all the things you have to be thankful for.
Now in the next few verses we see the vital mistake Elijah made, which in turn led to him giving up and almost admitting and accepting total defeat.
1 Kings 19 (NIV)
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn 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.”
Now the first important thing to note here is the fact that the Lord asked Elijah what he was doing there. He should never have been there in the first place. We as Christians are called to share in God’s peace, the peace given to us by Christ. We are not meant to be in a mental state of defeat, but rather embrace the victory we have been called to. So what caused Elijah to come to this place? The answer is clearly shown here.
When he replied, he answered by saying “he” had been very zealous for the Lord. We also see him say “he” is the only one left. The error made is simple and it’s one we often make. He had taken his focus off God completely and had now started to look at himself & his works. He also says this again later on in this chapter. The reality is we must keep our eyes on the goal – Christ. We have no victory outside of Him and once we start to look away from Him our focus becomes blurred and confused. I hate to say it, but Elijah had almost become self-obsessed.
When we are down trodden, we are often doing exactly what Elijah did here. We say “I” am tired, “I” have served God so much, “I” am the only one going through this. We must keep our eyes on Christ if we are to have any peace of mind.
Now the next verses in this passage show us something amazing about how God works.
1 Kings 19 (NIV)
11 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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Now I must say there is so much in this chapter so I encourage you to go back and study this in your own time.
Quite often when waiting for God or going through trials we expect a firework type miracle or sign to let us know God is still with us. In these verses God demonstrates that He is not always in the great wind, earthquake or fire, but in fact in this case God was in the gentle whisper. Isn’t that amazing?
How easy is it to ignore the silent voice that tells us to stay strong, the soft whisper that reminds you God himself called you and set you apart, or that voice telling you Jesus loves you and will not give up on you. During trials it can be so easy to ignore the gentle whisper of God nudging us in the right direction and instead look out for a great wonder or sign. I am not saying that God does not perform miraculous wonders, but I am pointing out the fact that despite what you may think, He is still working in and on you, providing for you, keeping you and speaking to you. The question is are you listening?
Now the next part is where my mind is blown everytime.
1 Kings 19 (NIV)
15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
The first point to note here is the fact Elijah had to go back the same way he had come. I’m going to say this point blank, you can stay depressed as long as you like, at some point you will have to face your trial head on. This is similar to circling the mountain until you have enough strength to move on. We have to remember the word spoken to so many before us “be of good courage”. Life is not meant to be easy, but we are expected to be of good courage secure in the knowledge that God has gone before us.
The thing that blows my mind is God’s word to Elijah in vs 18 ‘Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel”. Isn’t that amazing? Here we have Elijah saying & thinking he is the only prophet left, feeling alone and defeated, not knowing God has raised up an army of prophets, not 1 but 7,000.
A lot of the time we speak about situations and react to what we can see with our eyes. We must remember and apply living by faith and not by sight. We cannot always see the work God is doing behind the scenes when we are going through our trials, but we are expected to believe God is working for our best intentions, despite how it may seem to us at the time.
No matter what you are going through, I can assure you God is working overtime, and has your escape plan worked out. How do I know? Because that is who our God is. He is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should change His mind. Jesus meant it when He said “It is finished”. Whatever situation you may be in – it is finished, don’t be deceived by your eyes, rather be comforted by the truth that is in Jesus Christ. Victory is yours.
On closing I want to point out a few practical tips.
- Try keeping a journal with all the things God has done for you. This can help you make sense of what He is doing in your current situation. It will also help you keep things in perspective.
- Make positive declarations over your situations. Declare the word of God over your situation. Say “Lord, I am tired, but I know you will strengthen me”. Say “Lord, this is not the end, I do not understand what is going on right now, but I give it to you, I know the plans you have for me are greater than I can imagine. Say “Lord, I know you can see all of this, but I know this is not the end, give me the endurance I need to keep going”
- Lastly and most importantly, no matter how bad you feel do not stop reading your Bible or talking to God. The word of God is living waters, it literally has the power to change any situation. Read scriptures out loud, you may not feel like it is doing anything, but it works inwardly and cannot return void.
I hope you have been blessed by this post & I pray that whatever your situation, God will open your eyes to the many wonders He is performing on your behalf right this second. I also pray that you will be strengthened and His peace, true peace will wash over you.
Until next time remain blessed. All my love x