Good morning, it has been 13 weeks since I have had my back surgery and I am feeling very good. I still wake up with some stiffness in the morning but it is nothing compared to the pain I had before the surgery. I am not on any pain meds, not even regular Tylenol. I am feeling so good that I don’t even feel like talking about my back today but would rather spend time talking about talking about a subject that has been on my heart here of late. A person who has been through some tough times in the 18 months recently asked me “How do I get past my grief?” That is a very important question for us to be able to answer. God does not desire us to live under a cloud of grief or depression or for that matter to live in any other unhealthy emotional state. Answering those questions, “How do I move on from my grief, how do I get past my hurt and frustration?” is so important that God has provided examples in His word of people who have dealt with those very issues. The top two examples that come to my mind of people in God’s word who have dealt with those questions are men named Elijah and Samuel. Which brings me to my first point:
- Grief can affect everyone, even people of faith!
Elijah and Samuel were both prophets, men of great faith and yet they struggled in their life with a season of overwhelming grief. That tells me that we should not allow anyone to question our faith or salvation simply because we are currently struggling with some emotional pain. There are lessons that can be found in God’s word for us as to how we should deal with our emotional pain during those seasons of pain. In this post, I want to deal with lessons found in Elijah’s life.
In 1 Kings 19 the prophet Elijah is on the run from Queen Jezebel. Despite being used by God to work miracles in front of the Nation of Israel to show the people that Baal was a false God, the people did not repent on a large scale from idol worship and now Queen Jezebel has threatened to have Elijah killed. Elijah runs into the wilderness and isolates himself from everyone. He is on the run, he feels like his work has been in vain, he feels unappreciated, he feels like he is all alone, he feels like he has been abandoned and Elijah wishes…no, he prays that he would die. He is full of grief and he is depressed.
When Elijah says, “It is enough! Take my life Lord!” He is saying, “I cannot do this anymore, I can’t go one! Lord I am ready to end it all.” Here is a man who could pray and stop the rain or pray and bring the rain. Here is a man who could pray and call forth fire, a man whose prayers God answered and yet God did not answer this prayer! God wanted Elijah to live, even though Elijah felt useless and alone and even though Elijah wanted to die. I know that sometimes people get to that point where they think they cannot go on and where they wish they were dead. We need to remember that God is sovereign and even our lives are not in our hands. David wrote in Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”
You may not think you can go on, but you can! And you must because God has days that have been written for you – days of peace, days of joy, days of gladness, days ordained from the foundation of time! The second step to moving past grief is to take care of your physical needs.
2. Take Care of your physical needs.
Elijah went to sleep under a juniper tree. And the bible says in 1 Kings 19:5 – 7 the Lord sent an angel to minister to him who, “Arise and 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 of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.”
In this passage we see that the Lord will indeed minister to us during our seasons of grief. And in this passage we see the steps we should take to move beyond our grief. Some of those steps include taking care of our physical needs. The Lord provided food and water for Elijah and allowed Elijah to rest. Elijah had run out to the wilderness, to a desert-like area and was in a place where he did not have access to the nourishment his body need – apart from what the Lord was now providing him. It seems like Elijah was so busy running away from his problems that he neglected his own physical needs. So many times when we get to a bad place emotionally we neglect our health or we cope with the situation in unhealthy ways. We either don’t eat enough or we eat too much. We may cope in other ways which are unhealthy for our bodies. We may partake in great deals of alcohol or other substances in an effort to numb the pain that we are feeling. The Lord would have us to remember that our bodies are His temple. We need to cope in healthy ways and we need to nourish ourselves appropriately and get adequate rest.
I would also like to add that sometimes taking care of your physical needs includes going to the doctor. If you have been in a state of grief for a lengthy period of time, there can be real physical effects on your body. You may be low on certain nutrients, vitamins, etc that could lead to malnutrition, poor health and even depression. See your doctor and have a proper assessment made of your physical needs. There is nothing wrong with a Christian going to the doctor and taking appropriately prescribed medications. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” God has ordained the use of doctors and medications. The Lord had some work for Elijah to do and it would require that Elijah be rested and prepared for that work, the Lord took ministered to Elijah’s physical needs. Which brings me to the third lesson I see in this scripture, “Examine your feelings.”
- Examine your feelings.
The bible says that Elijah arose and went in the strength of that food to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. It was a trip that took 40 days and it was a trip that was 200 miles! When Elijah arrived at Mount Horeb, the bible says in 1 Kings 19:9 that the Lord asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah responded to the Lord, telling the Lord why he was upset and why he felt scared, alone and abandoned. As I read that passage, it made me wonder why would the Lord ask someone who was tired and emotionally drained go on a 40 day trip of 200 miles? I believe that there are two main reasons; first I believe it is because the Lord wanted Elijah to know that just as He sustained Elijah during that trip, He would sustain Elijah through this season of depression and protect Elijah from the threats of Jezebel which worried him so much. What is the second reason for the 40 day trip? I believe that trip gave Elijah time to reflect. Elijah had 40 days to contemplate and pray about the things that were troubling him, 40 days of solitude, no IPOD, no TV, no friends or family who would need attention and yet he still struggled and had questions for God. I believe that passage was put it in there for us. You see, I think that the Lord wants us to know that He doesn’t just expect us to snap out of our grief or to just flip a switch and be over whatever emotional issue is bothering us.
You too may go on a long journey of prayer and contemplation and still not understand the big picture. During your journey the Lord may ask you more than once, “Why are you here?” The Lord asked Elijah and the Lord let Elijah vent. Elijah responded, “I’m all alone, everyone else has abandoned You but me!” It’s as if Elijah was saying, “I’m all alone, the whole world has abandoned me and nobody understands how I feel!” Some people don’t think that they can vent to the Lord. But we can. The Lord understands us. I love what the bible says in Psalm 103:14 “The Lord is mindful of our frame, He knows that we are but dust.” You can tell your problems to the Lord, without retribution, even when you are wrong. The Lord pointed out to Elijah that Elijah was wrong, there were others who trusted the Lord and who were faithful. If you feel alone and abandoned, you need to know that you are not alone, there are people out there who are faithful to God, who will minister to you in His name. After Elijah finished venting, the Lord tended to his spiritual needs.
- Tend to your spiritual needs.
The bible says in 1 Kings 19:11 that the Lord called Elijah to the front of the mountain and passed by in front of him. And when the Lord passed there was a strong wind, an earthquake and even a fire, but the Lord was not in those things. But afterward a still, quiet voice spoke to Elijah again, “What are you doing here?”
The Lord tended to Elijah’s spiritual needs. Elijah did not need to be reminded of the Lord’s power as demonstrated by the strong wind, the fire or the earthquake. Elijah needed to hear the still, quiet voice of the Lord. Elijah needed to be reminded of the presence of the Lord in his life. I think that is why the Lord sent him to Mount Horeb. Mount Horeb is also known as Mount Sinai, the place of where God had given Moses the Ten Commandments. This was a place where the Lord knew Elijah would make a connection with the Lord; it was a place where the Lord knew Elijah would be able to hear Him without the noise of the world, without distractions and interruptions.
I think that sometimes we go through seasons where we struggle and where we need to be reminded not of the Lord’s great power but rather of His special presence in our lives. Sometimes we can be more receptive and able to hear better spiritually when we take ourselves to a place where we know the Lord has shown up before. The really sad part is that sometimes when we are doubting God’s presence in our lives, sometimes when we are going through those seasons when we wonder where He is, those are the seasons when we STOP seeking him. Those are the seasons when we STOP listening for that still quiet voice. And that is tragic because those are the times when we need to see Him and hear Him the most.
If you are struggling with grief, don’t stop going to your place of worship. Don’t stop reading your bible. Don’t stop fellowshipping with your Christian friends. Those are the places where you are most likely to be reminded of the Lord’s presence in your life. Take yourself to a place where you are most likely to hear the still, quiet voice of our Lord. Make a time, make a place where there are no outside noises, where there are no interruptions, where there are no distractions. Tend to your spiritual needs! Lastly, when you are grieving, remember to be who God called you to be.
5. Be who God called you to be.
The Lord spoke to Elijah and instructed him in verse 1 Kings 19:15 – 16 to go anoint Hazael king over Aram; and Jehu king over Israel; and Elisha as a prophet. The Lord still had work for Elijah to do. The Lord wanted Elijah to move forward and get involved and engaged once again in Kingdom work The Lord still had plans for Elijah. You need to know that the Lord still has plans for you too! Ask the Lord to strengthen you. Ask the Lord to help you move forward! Ask the Lord to help you be who He called you to be. Take baby steps if you have to, but take some steps just the same!
It is never God’s desire for us to be stuck in our grief, wasting away in a place of wilderness. It is His desire that we know His embrace, feel His love and walk in the power and comfort that only He can bring. It is His desire that we move forward and be who He called us to be. Here is the list again. Remember, anything that God wants us to do, He helps us to do.
- Grief can affect everyone, even people of faith!
- Take Care of your physical needs.
- Examine your feelings.
- Tend to your spiritual needs.
- Be who God called you to be.
If you would like to know more about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can send me an email directly at email@example.com or to our church website at onioncreekbaptistchurch.com