What is the cure for discouragement? If you’re discouraged today with your children, discouraged with your marriage, discouraged with your schedule, your ministry, or whatever-what is the cure?
There is not a single cure, but several. And here is the first:
A Physical Cure: Renew Our Strength (Neh. 4:21-22)
Nehemiah said, “So we labored in the work and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared. Likewise at the same time I said unto the people, Let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and labor on the day.” In other words: “Go lay down and get some rest!”
When you get worn out and the problem of fatigue sets in, you can get discouraged. In many cases, the cure may be as simple as this: you just need to rest. You may need to change your diet. You may need to get some exercise. You may need to go to the doctor and get a checkup. The issue may be physical; it may be emotional. Maybe you need a checkup from the neck up!
There’s an interesting story in the Old Testament about another man-a prophet whose name was Elijah. Elijah was a man of God. Yet, one time he got so discouraged that he wanted to die.
In 1 Kings 19:4-8 we read: “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, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.”
Elijah had a pity party. He got so discouraged that he said he wanted to die. Of course, he really didn’t mean that. He’d just run cross-country to get away from Jezebel. If he’d wanted to die, all he would have had to do was stand still, and Jezebel would have taken care of him. She’d already said, “I’m going to make you a foot shorter at the top. I’m going to take off your head.”
But he was drinking from the intoxicating cup of self-pity. He was worn out. He’d been without food; he’d been without rest; he’d been without sleep. So he got under the juniper tree and said, “Oh, I wish I could die.” He even prayed to die.
Now, we thank God for answered prayer. Have you ever thanked God for unanswered prayer?
Thank God He doesn’t always answer our prayers! Elijah said, “God, I want to die.” But God said, “You’re not going to die; you’re going to sleep. Lie down, son, and sleep.” And then He said, “Wake up, and eat.” And then, “Lie down, and sleep.” And then once again, “Wake up, and eat.”
You know, you might just need a vacation. You might just need to take some time off and let some things go.
Elijah thought he was the only prophet of the Lord. But the Lord said, “You know, Elijah, I’ve got a lot of people around here besides you. I’ve got 450 people who haven’t bowed their knee to Baal. So, go to sleep, and get some rest.”
The Bible says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he gives his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).
Let me give you some advice: Never make a major decision when you’re fatigued- just don’t do it. Never make a major decision when you’re depressed-just don’t do it.
The reason that some of us may get discouraged is simple: we haven’t been taking care of the temple that God gave us. To the prophet who wanted to die, God said, “Hey, just lay down, and sleep.” To the people who wailed, “We can’t build the wall,” Nehemiah said, “Work in the daytime; sleep in the nighttime. You may need some rest.”