Dr. Ed Young - Avoiding Burnout
Now, of all people that we could name in the Bible, or outside of the Bible, as to what we discovered about God's guy for the 8th century, Elijah, he'd be the last person on the list that I would ever think would be caught up in burnout or depression. Stress, absolutely, plenty of stress he lived under as we walk through his life. God spoke to Elijah and said, "Elijah, come out of obscurity and show yourself to the king". That's what he did. And he pronounced judgment on the king and said, "It will not rain because of your idolatry and because your sin. It'll not rain in Israel until I give the word. Show yourself, Elijah. Speak a word of judgment to the king".
And following that, God said to Elijah, "Hide yourself". So, he put him at the Brook Cherith, and he stayed there for about a year. And God supernaturally fed him with food from ravens, and he had that bubbling brook to drink with. Then God said, "Get up Elijah, and now go to Zarephath". He got up, went about 75, 80 miles to Zarephath, and then he was looked after by a poor widow. He was still in hiding. And then after about three years, God said, "Elijah, now go show yourself to the king". And we studied about how he went back to King Ahab, and he proposed a meeting on Mount Carmel.
And after I had spoke, I had delivered that study last week, I was flipping through TV, and I saw an old movie entitled, "Showdown At O.K. Corral". Man, and I said, that's what happened on Mount Carmel. That's exactly what happened. And we know the dramatic story of how the real God spoke with fire and power. You see, the people said, "We don't see any difference between Baal and Jehovah, you know"? Come see, come sime one god, you know, like all the rest of the gods. But God answered with fire, remember? And he took the sacrifice, he burned up the sacrifice and the rocks. And the people who'd been neutral, they didn't say a word. "Choose you this day whom you will serve, Baal or God". And they didn't say a word. But when God answered with... a lightning God, whoom, with fire, all the people fell on their faces. They said, "The Lord, He is God, the Lord, He is God".
And then Elijah went and slaughtered all those demonic prophets who represented the demonic gods. Then Elijah went all the way back on Mount Carmel and he prayed what a prayer, and that prayer had in it, how many words? Sixty-two, short prayer. And then we know the fire came and Elijah went up in the mountains, and he prayed again. He got down to the fetal position, he prayed six times. He said, "Now let it rain". When he came down after praying six times, they saw a cloud like a hand. And he went to King Ahab, who was eating and drinking still on the mountain, though he suffered a great defeat. He said, "You better get your chariot and get on this, get on this mountain because there's gonna be a downpour, and you'll not be able to leave if you don't leave now".
And so, Elijah, that was our Scripture. He girded up his loins. What does that mean? It means the mantle, the robe that he had own, he just took it and tucked it in his underwear and he ran down the mountain. He ran down the mountain. As he was running down the mountain, it was raining. Let me tell you something, go three-and-a-half years in Texas with not a single drop of water will fall. Imagine, even with our modern backup facilities, imagine. That's what it was like, and now the rain had come. The people had said, "The Lord, He is God".
And now Ahab is going down the mountain in his chariot, and here is Elijah with his robe tucked up. He is running ahead for 17 miles and he outruns the king in his chariot, and he goes all the way to Jezreel, 17 miles he is running and he is, "Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain. What a wonderful, glorious feeling, I'm happy". Or you can sing "rain drops keep falling", I don't know what he but man, what a moment for Elijah. I mean, what a guy. And he goes to Jezreel and Ahab goes to tell Jezebel, his wife. And when Ahab knocks on the door and he goes into the palace and Jezebel said, "Things must have worked out well on Carmel. I see it is raining, it is raining on you, my guys, Baal and his crew. I knew they'd come through. I never doubted it. You know, they're the god of fire, the god of the rains, and the season, and the harvest. Tell me about it".
Ahab said, "You know, get me a cup of that Jezreel Starbucks Java. It didn't come out exactly like that. Told Jezebel, what happened to all her guys, all her prophets. And Jezebel", look how she responds to this, interesting. "Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, 'So may the gods do to me even more if I do not make your life as a life of one of them,'" the prophets who were dead, "by tomorrow this time". In other words, she put out a contract on Elijah who was then in Jezreel, the capital of that area.
Now, what we've known about Elijah thus far, think about it. How do you think you'd respond to that demonic queen saying, "I'm gonna have you killed"? What's the big deal about that? I mean, he stood up against the, everybody in the land. He just slaughtered 850 phony prophets, demonic men. I mean, he was on top of the world. It was raining. And the people said, "The Lord, He is God". I mean, how's he gonna respond to that woman? I think he'd say, "I'm in the middle of God's will. I'm bulletproof. I'm his guy. I'm his man. Do you know what happened on Carmel? Fire came down at my word. They rain came down at my word". Oh, threat, isn't that how you'd expect him to respond? But look how he responds. It's staggering. "And Elijah was afraid and rose and ran for his life, and came to Beersheba".
That's 120 miles from Jezreel. That's as far as you can go and still stay in anything in the Lord's land. He left the northern kingdom, that is in Judah. That's way down the southern border. That's as far as you can go. That's the end of Israel. "He came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 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, Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers!'"
So, here is a stressed out, burnout, depressed person. Now, here is the question, how does God deal with him? The sub question, when we walk down this path, and we all have, and we all will, and many of us are today, from stress to burnout to depression, how does God deal with you? How does God deal with me? The same way. Watch this, we're going to see that he deals with his guy, Elijah. What does God do? First thing he does, he sends an angel. Next thing God does, we'll see, he asks a question. The next thing God does, he speaks a Word. That's how he ministered to Elijah, and I can tell you when we're bottomed out, that's how he ministered to us.
Watch how it happens, it's a powerful word of truth. Verse 5, "He lay down and slept under a Juniper tree and behold, there was an angel touching him. And he said to him, 'Arise, eat.' Then he looked, and behold, there was at his head a bread cake, baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate, and drank, and lay down again. The angel came again a second time and touched him and said, 'Arise and eat because the journey is too great for you.'" What's the first thing God did for Elijah when he was out of business, washed up, washed out, out of the mainstream, defeated, ready to leave this world? What's the first thing God did? God sent an angel. What do we do when people are hurting, and broken, and depressed, or just in burnout? We say, "Oh, you need to pray more. Oh, you need to fast. You better start reading your Bible".
What's the first thing God did? He sent an angel. What'd the angel do? He just had some rocks, he baked a cake. You know what kind of cake that was? An angel food cake. Are you listening? I mean, really. He baked him a cake, and he got a jug of water, and he put him to sleep. And notice, he touched Elijah, he touched him. He needed fellowship, physical, physical healing. And then he touched Elijah again, he said, "I've got you another cake. I got you some more bread and some water," and he went to sleep again. That's not very spiritual, is it?
You see, sometimes when we're just beat up, and down, and empty, somebody gives us a little pious talk, and little whining advice. Maybe we just need to go and spend the night by the sea, you know, take a nap, look at some art, listen to music, go to a ballgame, walk up the street, sit back, unplug, recover physically. "Well, that doesn't sound very like, you know, church advice". Do you think God is uninterested in your physical and my physical well-being? Did not he create us in his image? And a part of that must be our physicality as to who we are? Interesting, isn't it? Hey, go to sleep, eat a little angel food cake, drink some water. Get up, go to sleep, do it again.
And that was the first thing God did, he sent an angel. He said, "Well, if I'm down and depressed and burnt out, God won't send an angel to me". Who was that that called you when you were in need? "Well, that was a friend". Who do you think that friend was? Who do you think put your arm around you when you said, "Boy, you know, nobody cares about me," and they put their arm around you and said, "You know, you're sort of special to me". And they said an encouraging word, who was that, who do you think that was? What's going on there? "Well, I know who that was". Oh, no, they were angels. They didn't might even know they were angels.
See, were visited by angels unaware, ladies and gentlemen. And you're say, "Whoa". Oh, yes. This is how God heals, and restores, and gives us a second. He went to him a second time and said, "Here's some more bread. Here's some more water, take a nap. It's cool under the tree. You're in the wilderness". What's the first thing God did for Elijah when he was down and out? He sent an angel who ministered to him physically. What's he second thing God did? Look at it, verse 8, "And so he arose, Elijah, and ate, and drank, and went in the strength of that food for 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then he came there to the cave and lodged there. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him and he said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'"
That's the question God asked. First thing he did in his down and out situation, God sent an angel, ministered to him physically. The second thing he did, God asked him a question, "What are you doing here, Elijah"? By the way, I'm gonna tell you something. When God asked you a question, it's not because he wants to find out anything. God said, "Boy, I'd really like to know this". When God asked you a question, he wants you to talk. He's a divine counselor, wonderful counselor. He wants us to talk. He wants to express. He wants to hear from us as the way we are and what's going on in our lives. He said, "Elijah, what are you doing here"?
And look Elijah's pious, whining, prideful answer to God's question. I can't believe this is the same guy on Mount Carmel. "He said, 'What are you doing here?' And he said, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord, and the Lord God of hosts, for the sons of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, killed your prophets with the sword, and I alone am left. I'm the only one, Lord, that's left who loved you, who served you, whose done all these wonderful things, and they're trying to kill me.'" What are you doing here? "It's because I served you, Lord. I've been so strong in the work, and I'm the only one who's left who stood for you, God, and they're trying to kill me".
Let me tell you something. Pious pride is a deadly thing. That's how he answers God. God asked the... see, Elijah's beginning to see he's way away from God, not only geographically and physically, but far as life is concerned. He thought he was done for, he was a failure. Man, the people are still godless and even though it's raining, and they're living and they're thriving physically, they're still godless. So, that's a second thing God does for Elijah and he does for us, he asked him a question. And then the third thing he does, God speaks a Word, he speaks his Word.
Look at verse 11, "So he said, 'Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord. And behold, the Lord was passing by and a great strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind of an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a sound of a gentle blowing, a still small voice". What is going on? Elijah, depressed, he's in a cave. God couldn't get him out. God sent a wind, Elijah looked and said, "Boy, surely God is in the wind".
Now God sometime has used wind, hasn't he in Scripture? You read the Bible, there's many example God speaks in the wind, the power of the wind. But God wasn't in this wind. And then God sent an earthquake. I'm telling you get an earthquake, that gets our attention. The ground starts shaking, splitting. But God wasn't in the earthquake. God had been an earthquake before, wasn't there an earthquake when Jesus was crucified, earthquake on Sinai? Sure God has spoken in earthquake, but he wasn't in this earthquake. Then there was a fire, voom.
Now, God just spoke with fire on Carmel. And in the Bible, many times God speaks with fire, but God wasn't in the fire. And then God spoke to Elijah when he came out of the cave in a still, small voice he whispered, whispered to Elijah. And after he whispered to Elijah, Elijah came out of the cave and the Scripture said he took his mantle and he wrapped it around his face. Why did he do that? Out of shame, and out of reverence. What is God saying to Elijah? He's saying, "Elijah, you have been a part of a lot of supernatural things". Had he not? I mean, look at all the miracles, all the sensational things Elijah had seen, and fire, and the resurrection of a son who was dead, and multiplication of oil and flour, and on and on it goes.
He's saying, "Elijah, you've been a lot of a supernatural things and you think I'm gonna speak to you in fire, or wind, or earthquake"? He said, "The way I normally speak to people is through a still, small voice, a quiet whisper". And folks, that's the way we are. "God, I want you to come and I want you to do a dramatic thing, and I'm gonna believe". God speaks normally in a whisper. He can use wind, he can use earthquakes. He can use fire, he has, and he will again, but normally he speaks to us through that still, small voice. And then Elijah goes out, he has this Word from God. He's beginning to understand.
And then we read an amazing thing, "He went outside the cave and stood and a voice came to him and God asked him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' the second time. He said, 'Didn't you ask me that before?' 'Yes, I'm asking you again, what are you doing here, Elijah?'" And Elijah gives him that same, "Lord, I've been serving you, and I'm the only one left, and they're trying to kill me". And God corrects him this time. If you read in the 18th verse God says, "Elijah, Elijah, I'm running this thing. I'm sovereign". And he put him back in the game. He said, "I want you to go, I've got things I want you to do, Elijah".
That's what his voice said. He instructed him, he still had purpose for his life and I'm still teaching him how to be obedient, and how to live one day at a time, and how to be dependent on the Lord. He said, "I want to use you. Go to Damascus". He said, "By the way, Elijah, P.S., there's still 7,000 people in Israel who have not bowed to Baal and they have not kissed one of those pagan idols". He says, God's setting Elijah straight so he can use him again.
Now, two or three things you need to remember. First, anybody can bottom out. "Well, not me". Oh, yes, anybody can bottom out. Nobody is Superman. "Boy, I can take it, bring it on". Anybody can go down to the valley of despair and despondency and be a victim of burnout, feel washed out, washed up, used up. Anybody can bottom out. If Elijah can, anybody can. Second thing, God's healing is multifaceted. God's healing is multifaceted. What does that mean? It means because we're multifaceted beings. He created us. We're physical. We're mental and emotional, and we're spiritual. And God heals all of that because all that is his. You got that?
Healing as with Elijah, you see, he was healed in a multifaceted way. God ministered to him physically, the angels. You know, eat sleep, read a good book. God ministered to him psychologically. "Why you here, Elijah? Talk to me, talk to me, talk to me". God counseled with him, and God minister to him spiritually. He spoke his Word to him said, "Hey, get off the bench. I'm sending you back in the game. You're not the only one. I've still got big things for you to do".
We'll look at that in the weeks to come. So, God's healing is multifaceted. Third thing, dramatic events, what gets your attention, but they won't change your life. Dramatic events, catastrophic events, will get your attention, but it will not change your life. Following 9/11, went to church that Sunday, you couldn't get a seat. Man, they were lined up everywhere, churches all across this land. And I'm like Elijah, I'm so naive I said, "You know, this nation's turning back to God. They realize how fragile life is. Boy, there's gonna be revival, renewal, and worship, and praise, and Bible study, and families are gonna be healed relationship. And oh, man, 9/11 is a catastrophic thing, but it's gonna change our land". But about three weeks later, the churches weren't packed. Catastrophic events get our attention, but they don't change our lives.
Fourth thing, the Word of God will change your life. That's life changing. It's when the whisper of God, the Holy Spirit comes, touches my hard heart, touches your hard heart, and speaks to us, and convicts us that we are not right with him and right with ourselves, and we confess all that trash and we turn our lives over to Christ. And he comes and gives us a new life. We become a new Christian. It is a Word of God that changes lives. That's the power. It's the power and the Word. It's the Word of God that changed Elijah, not all the supernatural stuff. It's the still, small voice that speaks, that changes lives.
I've heard people like, you know, preacher, I go out on the mountaintop. I feel so close to God, and I see the sun rise, the sun set, I feel so close to God. And I see the beauty of the nature, and I see trees, and flowers, and music, and breeze. I feel so close to God. Let me tell you something, nature can speak a word about God, but all the magnificence of nature will never change your life. It'll never change your life. It is the Word of God. As he speaks quietly to us and brings conviction and we turn our lives over to him quietly, that nature may wake us up, a catastrophic event may wake us up, but it's the Word of God that changes lives. And I'm convinced that God is whispering today maybe your name, and speaking his Word today of healing and forgiveness in your life, and that is the biggest and most dramatic miracle of all.