Finding Faith: Refreshment for when you feel like giving up
That’s it! I’m done! It’s over! I’m finished! I have had enough! I can’t take it anymore! I quit!
Have you ever echoed these sentiments? Have you ever reached the place in life where you have no fight left? Where you can’t muster up the willpower to endure one more moment?
Let’s face it… in life there may be situations so overwhelming, conditions so painful, battles that feel so unwinnable, that it drives you to the one place you never thought you would go: To simply give up.
If you have felt this way or are currently feeling this way you are not alone. There have been many before you (myself included) and many who will come after you that have felt the same way at different times in life.
One of those people was the prophet Elijah. In the middle of his great life story we find a man ready to give up. However, out of this story we find some very practical and spiritual things that got him through this period. This is to help answer the question: What do you do when you feel like giving up?
Elijah get to this place?
“Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 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'” (1 Kings 19:1-2).
Elijah had just experienced one of the greatest victories in his life but as a result a contract was put out on his life. He did the only logical thing there is to do when someone wants to kill you… he ran.
Notice his actions: “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 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'” (1 Kings 19:3-4).
Now that you understand how Elijah got to this place let’s consider some initial lessons we can learn.
Two things to do when you feel
1. Relate — When you come to the place where you have had enough, understand that you are not alone. I think it’s safe to say that every man or woman that has ever tried to accomplish anything for God, or in life in general, has had moments like this. You are striving to do your best, trying to hold it all together, and it is just not happening.
If you have felt this was about any situation in life, you are not alone. I say this to encourage you because there will come a day when you will feel like Elijah.
2. Recognize — There are two things to recognize. The first is the source of your discouragement. Put yourself in Elijah’s shoes for a moment. You have just seen this spectacular display of God’s power. You have proven to Ahab and the entire nation of Israel that there is only one true living God. You would think that after seeing this wonderful display the people would repent and turn their hearts toward God.
Instead what does Elijah get? A death threat. I think in this moment he felt a great sense of despair. After doing all this, these people will never turn their hearts toward God. So what’s the use in trying anymore?
Maybe you are experiencing something similar. Maybe you have toiled in a job waiting for recognition of your hard work. Maybe you have been in a marriage praying for your spouse to change. Maybe you are plugging away trying to complete the ministry or work God wants you to complete and what do you get for your efforts? Nothing. This can drive you to the point of saying enough is enough. It happened to Elijah… it can happen to you.
The second thing to recognize, something that jumps off the page, is Elijah’s honesty in his prayer. He told God the truth about how he was feeling. You should do the same. It is so important to get into the habit of telling God exactly how you feel and what is going on. He won’t rebuke you or judge you, but He will comfort you and give you insight.
In fact, He encourages us to bring everything to Him in prayer. Recognize that you can be completely honest with God in prayer. Trust that He is big enough to handle it. Don’t try to hide any of your feelings or emotions and don’t think that it is “unspiritual” to lay bare your heart before the Lord. It isn’t. In fact, that is exactly what He wants.
You will often discover that it is in these places of honesty before God that you find his greatest love, greatest strength, and greatest support. After all, His strength is made perfect, not in your strength, but in your weakness.
How does God care for Elijah?
“Then he lay down under the bush 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 some 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. There he went into a cave and spent the night” (1 Kings 19:5-9).
Focus your attention on three more things that you can do when you feel like giving up:
1. Rest — The Bible tells us Elijah went to sleep. Sometimes in life you get tired. You cannot fight or be truly productive when you are tired.
There is a quote from the boxing realm that says, “fatigue makes cowards of us all.” When you are tired, your will to keep going can dissipate very quickly. The remedy for your situation may be as simple as rest.
Rest doesn’t always just mean going to sleep. This could mean taking a personal day at work to get away from the source of your frustration even if it’s just for a little while. This can help you get clarity and begin the process of recharging the batteries.
2. Refresh — In verse 5 the angel told him to get up and eat. In the middle of his weariness and fatigue, when he is wanting to die, God didn’t reject Elijah… He refreshed him.
It’s like Elijah had his own personal chef who cooked food for him to help him rebuild his strength. Notice this time of refreshing was all about building him up physically. God continued to build up his physical strength so Elijah could endure the journey… it wasn’t over yet.
You may need to do the exact same thing. Consider ways you can get some moments of refreshment where you don’t have any responsibility and don’t have to worry about anything. Notice all Elijah did was eat, drink, and sleep. This could mean taking a trip or going out to eat, or have food delivered.
Whatever way you do it, understand that it is normal and healthy to build up your physical body because if you don’t, the journey will indeed become too much for you.
3. Renew — The strength Elijah needed was to help him make it to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. It was there he was renewed in his spirit. Mount Horeb in a sense represents the presence of God. God cared about all of Elijah’s needs both physical and spiritual. God recognized that Elijah’s restoration would require renewing his body and his spirit.
Once God has strengthened you physically He can now deal with your spiritual needs. The greatest place that God can encourage your spirit is in His presence. It is in His presence that God can restore your joy, change your perspective, renew your zeal, and give you the desire and motivation to keep moving forward. This was how He helped Elijah and He will do the same for you.
Body, soul, spirit
I think it is important to remember that the feeling of giving up is not one that just affects your emotions. It affects you on all levels: body, soul and spirit. When you reach that place and feel like it’s time to throw in the towel, remember that you need to refresh all three.
Too often we think all we need is just spiritual renewal. Yet God has shown us by how He dealt with Elijah that the key to overcoming that feeling of wanting to give up is by addressing the total person. I believe it is by doing all these things that you can stay on track and overcome when you feel like giving up.
Here is one final encouragement from Scripture: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9).
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Don Grant of Hillview Wesleyan Church, Flemington.