There is absolutely NOTHING that creates a greater sense of despair and hopelessness than feeling that God has quit listening or speaking to you. Everyone has felt it — and if we were to be honest, most people LIVE with that feeling. Is that what God wants? How can that be possible when Hebrews 13:5, which is referencing Joshua 1:5, says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee….”? Was He lying? Does He take pleasure in seeing His children squirm, hurt, and cry? The Psalmist asked that exact same question in Psalm 102:1-2
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee. 2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.
Again, look what David said in Psalm 55:6-7 … He wished he could sprout wings and just leave all of his problems:
6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.
Depression sometimes got so bad for some in the Bible that they wanted to just die right there. Look at the cries of Jonah and Job:
Jonah 4:3 – Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
Job 3:11 – Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
In all actuality, very little is said as to what goes through the mind of God when He does place Himself on “Mute” in our lives. In my studies and own experiences, I feel that the reality of the situation is this: WE are the ones who pressed the “Mute” button — we just didn’t realize it! It is not an act of defiance against our Creator, but rather it just happens — Has anyone accidentally rolled over and pressed a button on the remote? IT’S THAT SIMPLE — Most of the time, when God is Silent, we simply need to find the “remote” and get to enjoying life again… Look at an example of this in the life of Elijah the Prophet from 1 Kings 19.
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer–sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
1. You Are Not Alone
The GREATEST heroes of Faith and Men of God suffered great depression and even wished for death! During times of “silence” and depression, never give in to the lie that you are just a poor Christian and no one else suffers. Just one chapter earlier, Elijah had called down fire from Heaven! That just goes to show that anyone, at anytime, can fall into a “spiritual funk” if you will. Since we all experience seasons of “silence” at times, WHY does it happen at all? Point 2 …
2. It is hard to ACCEPT that which you do not UNDERSTAND
After the battle against Baal in the previous chapter, Elijah was confident that he was God’s man. He was on the “Mountain Top” spiritually, so to speak. What happened next no doubt took him by surprise: an execution order from Queen Jezebel! Certainly Elijah pondered about how this could be happening. When he didn’t have the answer HE RAN; unable to accept or understand this next chapter in his life.
Our “Execution Order” can come in variety of ways: Job Layoffs, Financial Turmoil, Family Issues, Illness, Loss of Loved Ones — The list goes on and on. When whatever the given situation hits, and we realize that it is BIGGER THAN US, we roll away from God. It is at that moment, that we accidentallyhit “mute” on God. I sometimes call it the “Recoil Effect” … A quick, knee-jerk reaction AWAY from who apparently “caused the pain”.
3. Routes of DELIVERANCE always open after our DEEPEST DISCOURAGEMENTS
The toughest part of an “escape route” is realizing that it actually is one…
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
Before God showed up to answer Elijah, He sent an angel. It would be 40 EXCRUCIATING DAYS before Elijah would have a one-on-one conversation with God. During the “Silent” mode, God knows that He is on “Mute” and wants to help. However, the help He sends often isn’t what we are looking for. At times our “Angel” sent to refocus us may be a loving spouse. Other times it may be an event, an opportunity, a sermon, a visit … Whatever it is, it’s not the “answer” to our problem and we far too often reject it. That is why the Angel came TWICE; because Elijah didn’t get it. He told Elijah in a sense, “Hey, I’m here to help … Eat and get yourself together!” It was the Angel that was sent that got Elijah to realize that he needed to get to God!
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. 9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
4. FAILURE to FULLY rebound will FORFEIT God’s perfect plan for your FUTURE
Around our church I sometimes preface a point or principle as being an “IMO” or “In My Opinion”. This point would fall into that category because it is a little controversial. It seems that whenever you deal with GOD WILL, people get real defensive on what it all entails.
Elijah gets his audience with God and pours out his heart. He was upset that he felt like he was the only one trying to do right and serve God. In an amazing display of power, God sends a strong wind. Next, He follows it up with an earthquake, fire, and the “Still Small Voice”. After that display, God asks Elijah the same question He had asked earlier:
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
Elijah, after an amazing display from God, had left Him on MUTE! Nothing had changed in his answer … And IN MY OPINION, Elijah turned in his “two weeks notice” as the Prophet of God. He was unable to shake the discouragement! IMMEDIATELY after that exchange, look what God commands:
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel–meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
With the exception of calling down fire one last time before he is taken to Heaven, Elijah performed no more miracles. With the exception of confronting Ahab over Naboth’s death, Elijah prophesied no more. There would even be an “unnamed” prophet doing Elijah’s work before turning the show over to Elisha.
We all have down times and dark days. There are times when we question whether God is listening at all. Just remember, God IS LISTENING — and the reason we can’t hear Him, is simply because we don’t want to…
Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. – Psalm 86:6-7