In the last couple of post we started looking at the encounter between God and Elijah. We looked at how even when running from God, Elijah still had an encounter with God. We also looked at how God will ask us questions in an encounter with Him so that we can learn in the encounter and not because God does not know the answer. We saw how sometimes we need to have our physical needs taken care of before we can have a God encounter. We also saw that fasting is something that is a part of encountering God. If you need to review Elijah’s encounter with God you can click here.
In Elijah’s life and encounter with God we also see that sometimes we won’t like what we hear when God encounters us. Elijah had run away from Queen Jezebel, fearing for his life. But God encountered him and sent him back to his homeland with a three-fold task. He is to anoint Hazael King of Syria, anoint Jehu King of Israel and anoint Elisha a prophet to replace him. The kings that Elijah were to anoint were vicious men, probably a task that Elijah didn’t want to do. Also, when he anointed Elisha to take his place, he had to deal with his own humanity and frailty. No one likes to step aside to allow someone else to take their place. Yet, Elijah encountered God and from that experience, received enough strength to do tasks that were unenjoyable.
God may call you to do the unenjoyable and if you do not do them your life will be unenjoyable! If you do them, know that God will give you the strength to make it through! God will call all of us to do tasks we do not want to do and when He does we need to be on our faces before Him and seeking Him so that we have the strength and courage to do what he is calling us to do. This is not about selfishness, but about doing what God is asking us to do which is humble ourselves and pray and seek His face (2 Chron. 7:14). The problem is too many just want to pray and seek His face and leave the humbling ourselves behind – if you do not humble yourself – your prayers will be out of a wrong motive and most likely not heard by God.
So when we are discouraged what does God teach us to do? God shows us here that action is the best thing to break discouragement. Often we try to get discouraged people to rationalize why they are discouraged. We try to deal with an emotional problem by academic means; but that doesn’t always work. The best way to get the attention of those struggling with discouragement is to put them to work. Put their hands, feet, their total body into service for God. God gave the discouraged Elijah a task; but not just any task and not just one task.
The task involved the future. Many people are discouraged because they have no future—no hope. You can help someone who is discouraged by getting them to look to brightness of the future. Elijah needed to look beyond the present kings of Israel. Surely King Ahab and Queen Jezebel wanted to kill him, but God told him to anoint Jehu in their place, in other words look to the future. The greatest enemy that God’s people had at the time was the king of Syria, and God told him to anoint the next king of that nation. Then God wanted him to look beyond his own life; God told him to anoint Elisha. In this way, God was assuring Elijah that His work would continue after his death. God had him looking forward.
God wants us to look beyond ourselves and to the hope that lies in the future. Too many of us talk disparagingly about the future and the future of the church but God is control and He will lead it. Stop looking at the negatives and focus on the positives – that is what God tells us in Philippians 4:8 – to look on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, attractive, excellent, and praiseworthy things. What are you looking at – at circumstance or what God says to look at?
God solves being blue or discouragement – by giving people hope, focusing them on the future, and putting them to work. One of the reasons people are sometimes blue is they can’t see the future and especially a future for themselves. Sometimes just talk will not totally help a blue person and more needs to be done in their lives. God broke Elijah’s discouragement by putting him to work and He will break your discouragement by giving you a task!
Has God ever given you an unenjoyable task? Do you see giving someone a task as the best way to get someone out of discouragement?