Kingdom work as a leader can be very fulfilling. Seeing hours of work and prayer come to a constructive conclusion is so encouraging, letting us feel blessed to be on the front line for our Lord. On the other hand however, it can also be downright demanding. If those days of work and hours in prayer continue without a reasonable result, we can end up exhausted both physically and spiritually. This is exactly what happened to Elijah.
“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’” (1 Kings 19:10, NIV).
It is interesting to note this expression of discouragement from Elijah came not long after God had used him to call down fire from heaven in a spectacular display of divine power. It was an extraordinary event that no doubt was exhilarating. Yet that feeling didn’t last long as God’s use of Elijah quickly provoked death threats from an evil queen and Elijah had to flee for his life. After weeks on the run he clearly felt all alone, exhausted and worse, disheartened.
God didn’t leave him alone, however, announcing to Elijah that He was about to pass by. And He did—but not in a powerful wind, a great earthquake or a fierce fire. Instead he gently whispered and Elijah knew it was Him. God recognized that Elijah needed encouragement so He provided a helper, friend and companion. He took Elijah out of the conflict for awhile so Elijah could rest and spend time with Him. This gave Elijah needed time to refresh and refocus on his God-given task.
What a perfect example for us as we serve and lead. When we begin to feel overwhelmed, alone or discouraged, it may be time to get away from all that is drowning out God’s whisper and listen to His still, small voice. If He needs to remove us from our responsibilities for a time, He will. He may bring a friend or co-laborer alongside to help us carry the load. Or He may just need to settle us down for some extra alone time with Him. Whatever it is, God knows exactly how to encourage us. We just have to listen and let Him do it.
“The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, 'O God, forgive me,' or 'Help me.'”