Joseph Prince - Win Over Discouragement, Depression and Burnout
One of the subtle weapons of the enemy against the body of Christ, especially now so more than ever against the ministers, pastors, leaders, evangelists, apostles, you know, people that are going out there and really pouring out their heart for the people proclaiming Jesus, the devil seems to be bringing that weapon of discouragement and depression. And some of you as well, you have been waiting for results in a certain area of your life but you're wondering, "How long, Lord"? Just like David, he asked the Lord, "How long, O Lord, how long"? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Are all his mercies clean sweeped away? He says in the Psalms, you know?
And many of you feel that way. You are asking questions. You are saying, "When, Lord? How come this is not happening to me? How come I'm seeing so many good things happening to people but not to me? When is my turn, Lord"? And these thoughts can become sometimes even hard thoughts towards God and even bitter thoughts. Well, you know, God cares for you. God loves you. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows exactly what you're going through, amen? And he doesn't fall off his throne, okay, just because you have those thoughts. He loves you and I believe he has given me a Word that's gonna set you free, that's gonna help you. Can I have a good amen?
We look at the story of a man called Elijah so in this story, we have King Ahab, the king of Israel. He was a wicked king, all right, but his wickedness stems out of his love for sinful pleasures. He loves to eat. He loves to drink. Really, he doesn't even care whether the people at this time are worshiping Baal, all right? And he doesn't even care whether they worship Baal, or they don't worship Baal, or whether they worship Jehovah as long as his stomach is filled, that kind of king. But his wife, however, is positively evil in the sense that she puts in energy to promote the worship of Baal, which demands child sacrifices and all kinds of immortalities and she destroyed many of the true prophets of the Lord. And she's the wife of King Ahab, okay?
So, you put these two together, you got an explosion of immorality and all kinds of filth and darkness reign in the kingdom of Israel. So, during this time and they worshiped Baal for rain. All right, so, you can understand the nature of the famine, how God put Baal to no effect. In this dark scene appears this man with a leather girdle, a hairy man his name was Elijah. And Elijah the Tishbite and this man got a bite to his ministry. All right, he got teeth and he bite. "Of the inhabitants of Gilead, he said to Ahab, 'As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand.'"
I love that, "Before whom I stand". He's conscious of the Lord's presence, even when he stood before kings, amen. He didn't say, "Before you I stand, king". He says, "Before God, I stand, the God of Israel". "There shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word". Then it happened, the famine started for 3-1/2 years, all right? "Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying, 'Get away from here and turn eastward, go hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.'"
There is always a place that God has for you. When you go there, the provisions will be there, even supernatural provisions. Can I have a good amen? Maybe God tells you to go there, but you want God to do it here and God's been speaking to you, "Go there. There is your provision". So, I can't tell you where is your there. You must ask God where is your there, amen? Sometimes God's there for you is to remain because that's your there but, "There I'll provide for you". And the Bible goes on to say, "The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. It happened after a while that the brook dried up". God can dry something up. It doesn't mean that it is the devil and it doesn't mean that in the first place that place wasn't from God because God told him to go there but now God has something else in mind, all right for him.
"And it happened after a while the brook dried up because there's been no rain". Next verse, "Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.'" Now, there's a new there, okay? And what followed was this, the time came for the famine to end God in his mercy. But God said to Elijah, okay, "It came to pass after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, 'Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.'"
Why must... I mean, Elijah was in hiding, amen? And why must he show himself to Ahab? Well, God knows when he sends the rain if the man of God doesn't appear, all right, all the household of Ahab might think it's their prophets of Baal praying. It must be Baal that's answering that prayer. So, the man of God has to appear and he'll say, "It was by my Word that there was a famine and by my Word, it will rain". Amen, so they will know that there's only one God who controls the nature. Can I have a good amen, people?
All right, this God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. "Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I'll send rain on the earth". And what happened was that at the same time, he presented a challenge, Elijah did. Elijah says, "Go get your prophets, all right, and gather the nation of Israel and meet me up at Mount Carmel. And we're gonna ask God to answer by fire. If God is God, he will answer by fire. All right, you call upon your gods, you prophets of Baal. You go first. You call upon your gods. If your God is God, he will answer by fire. If he doesn't, then when I pray and my God answers by fire, he's the Lord God. How long, Israel, will you halt between two opinions? If Baal is God, follow him. If the Lord Yahweh is God, follow him".
So, for hours since the morning, they call upon Baal, they call upon Baal, no answer, no answer at all. Then it came to the time about three o'clock in the afternoon the Bible says the time of the evening prayer, the time that Jesus would die exactly at three o'clock, the time of the evening prayer, the evening sacrifice in the temple. Elijah stepped out and Elijah told the people, "My turn," okay? Built an altar and the altar was made of 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. This is what Elijah did, Elijah said, "Come near to me". I love it. I love it. He told the people, "'Come near, come near to me', so all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, 'Israel shall be your name'".
Now, then he says this, "Build a trench around the altar, put burnt sacrifice with the stones he built an altar, all right? He put the wood in order, he made a trench around the altar, he cut the bull in pieces, laid it on the wood, and said, 'Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.'" Now, he's gonna make it hard because the God who answers by fire, right? Next verse, "'Do it a second time.'" And finally he says, "'Do it again, one more time.' And they did it a third time. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water".
Imagine that, he's trying to make it hard for God. And then he prayed and right after he prayed, said, "God, hear me that the people may know you are God in Israel". He called upon the God of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob, fire came... and the Bible says, "The fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench". Everything disappeared. "Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The Lord He is God! The Lord He is God!'" In Hebrew, Yahweh, Elohim, Yahweh, he's Elohim or Jehovah, he's Elohim. The true God's name is proclaimed. And Elijah says, "Take the 450 prophets of Baal and bring them down to the Brook Kishon".
By the way, when you go to Israel and you're on Mount Carmel, ask your guide to show you where's the Brook Kishon. You can see the Brook Kishon winding down there. That's where the prophets of Baal, 451 of them, were brought down there and they were killed, every last one of them. Elijah killed every one of them and Elijah went to the King Ahab and said this, "King Ahab," go down, "eat and drink for I hear the sound of the abundance of rain". Always remember this, after the judgment comes the blessing. You know why we are blessed today? Because there's been a judgment. Friend, after the judgment, there's always the blessing. So, I hear the sound of the abundance of rain. For 3-1/2 years, Israel had no rain but the prophet says, "King Ahab, go and eat, get down. Your chariot, I hear the sound of the abundance of rain".
And he went up back to Mount Carmel, you know what he did? He fell on the dust and put his head between his knees. Now, he's praying so he sent his servant go and see yonder, all right, the skyline. "What do you see? Do you see any clouds"? The servant came back, "None". He prayed again, "Go again," he said, "see anything"? "None. Came back, prayed again, "Go again. See anything"? "None". Prayed again, "Go, anything"? "None". Four times already if you were counting, all right? Fifth time nothing, sixth time nothing, the seventh time, friend, sometimes, you know, praying by faith, Mark 11:24, is great but you need to discern sometimes God wants you to pray persevering prayers. Doesn't happen the first time, he's seeing whether you're going for it. Just now, Elijah prayed, less than 25 seconds the fire fell.
Here, he's praying for the rain to come, right? And seven times he sent his servant, seven times nothing was seen. The seventh time, rather, he went down, I mean the servant came back and said, "There is a cloud". There's been no cloud for 3-1/2 years 'cause no water but there's a cloud the size of a man's first and guess what. Ahab was still somewhere around. He told his servant, "Go send a message to Ahab, don't waste time, ride your chariot now. The rains are coming". And the clouds turned, became black and the heaviest downpour came. And King Ahab was riding furiously on his chariot. He drove all the way to Jezreel and then arrived, the king arrived home and told Jezebel all that happened. Jezebel says this, told how Elijah had executed all the prophets with the sword. "Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, 'So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.'"
So, she sent a messengers, this woman, this evil woman who's already defeated. Her prophets are all dead. She sent a messenger to Elijah saying, "This time tomorrow, you are dead". And Elijah looked at her and says, "Oh, yeah? Go ahead, make my day". The next verse tells us that, "When Elijah saw that, he arose and ran for his life". This is my message, after a great victory, and I'm speaking to not just believers that are suffering depression, discouragement, or disappointed with God. I'm speaking to people that are leaders who feel like your ministry has passed you, your best years are behind you. I'm talking to you, friend. After a great demonstration of the power of God, the entire nation was shaken. Obviously, something happened, he saw them all dissipating from the mountain of Carmel. They left, Ahab has gone back to eat and drink. You'll find his priority is always eat and drink. He doesn't really care whether God is Baal or God is Jehovah, there are people like that.
There are people, they are sinners in a sense like they don't care whether God exists or God don't exist. "All I care is my tummy. I care for my pleasure. I care for my own comfort". Jezebel, on the other hand, is positively evil in carrying out her evil agenda. And now she says, "I'm gonna kill you, Elijah". Elijah rose and ran for his life, why? He saw that, Elijah saw. He started to walk by sight. Elijah, the man of faith, the man of God, the man who stood in the presence of God who could say to God, "He's the one before whom I stand," who is conscious of the invisible, invisible, invincible God.
All right, the tragedy is this, we see the crowds dissipating, we get discouraged. We see our economy going down, all right, we get discouraged. We look at this paper coming in asking for claims or some debt we have to pay, we get discouraged. We are snared by the visible. The visible is what the devil uses. The visible, look at the lump, how it's growing. Look at your report, look at what the report says and it's all visible. We lose sight of the invisible God. Elijah forgot the God who led him Cherith. He forgot the ravens that fed him by day and by evening. He forgot the woman that God commanded to feed him and he forgot the barrel of meal that never wasted and the jar of oil that never ceased. He forgot the God of the resurrection that raised the boy from the dead even through him. He forgot the God who answers by fire and the rain that followed, why? Because like this, any of us can fall away from faith, even we walked in the greatest faith yesterday, we can go back to side today.
So, he got discouraged. All right, he went to Bersheba, which is the lowest part, the southern most part which belongs to Judah. So, from the north, you go all the way down. He left his servant there. "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree," under a juniper tree in the King James. A broom tree in Israel is like it's not a very tall tree. It's a low tree that spreads out like a canopy. It has shed down there. So, he went down the broom tree, sat down the broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, 'It's enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!'"
Now, I had this impression but when you're discouraged, when you're depressed, when you are asking questions, even questioning God, oh, God leaves you alone. "Work it out, work it out, son. Work it out, daughter, 'cause you're doubting me". How many have this impression. I mean, somehow I had this impression that God doesn't really spend too much time, doesn't hang around people who are discouraged, people who are depressed. I mean, doesn't really enjoy. I mean, y'all know that you never leave us, yes, y'all know that part but, you know, you feel like God already.
Let me tell you this, let me announce to you this, okay? Let's read on, "Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, 'Arise and eat.'" Whenever you find this word "angel," singular, this angel of the Lord in the Old Testament, it always refers to the pre incarnate appearance of Christ. The Jehovah of Elijah's time is the Jesus of the gospel days. It's the same Jesus. He appeared and touched him and says, "'Arise and eat.' Then he woke up, he looked and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and then lay down again". Must be very tired. And then the Bible tells us, "The angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, 'Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.'"
You know, many of you in and of yourself, God knows when you look at the journey in front of you, the commitment that you have in front of you, the payments you have to make by that deadline, the things that are ahead of you that you see that is not very encouraging in front of you and all you can say is that it's too great. The journey is too great and God knows it. God says, "The journey is too great for you," amen? Cherith to Zarephath, Zarephath to Carmel, Carmel to Horeb. "Now, the journey is too great, but I'm gonna give you food for the journey". And look at what happened, "So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God".
I'm here to tell you, keep on coming, keep on hearing the Word because one Word from God can cause you to go in his strength. Even though in the natural, the journey is too great, hey, you got food from heaven, amen, amen. You got food from heaven. Can I have a good amen? And then he went to Horeb, the mountain of God. Don't forget, why is he running? Is God leading him to go to the mountain of God? Horeb, by the way, is another name nor Mount Sinai. He's going back to Mount Sinai. God didn't lead him. God didn't ask him to go back to the mountain of law. God didn't tell him to go back there. All the while he was led by the Lord until... why is he going there? Why is he fleeing? For his life. Who instructed him? A woman, an angry woman. He can't say, "Now the God before whom I stand". He can say, "The woman before whom I flee".
So, he came to mount Sinai. And we close with this. "There he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" Now, here's a little revelation for you, for God to say, "What are you doing here," God is also there. God will never leave us, nor forsake us. Come on, church. He will never leave us even though the journey you took was your own journey, you fled from some woman angry with you. You went by the visible instead of the invisible God. He will not forsake you. He'll go with you. He'll go with you.
I told you just now that I had the impression that if I'm depressed, God will not hear me, right? Now listen to this, oh man, you forget anything else, don't forget this. This is from the Bible. In the day of Elijah's faith, ravens fed him and the widow sustained him in the day of his faith. But watch this, in the day of his depression, angels wait on him and God himself fed him. In the day of his depression, come on. Come on, people. Come on, what a God! What a God! What a God!