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October 29, 2007

In the Dumps

Editor’s note: The following was adapted from a radio sermon Dr. Forrest preached on 12/3/44

1 Kings 19:9-13

Recently a young woman ended up in my office talking about how she was under a cloud of doubt and fear. Moments before she arrived, I had just finished reading a letter from a friend, who was very sick and had been forced to be idle for some time. Both of these people asked pretty much the same question, “Why has God allowed this to happen? Has He forgotten that I gave my life to Him and that I have committed myself to doing His work? Why would He allow me to feel so down or be sick?”

Maybe you have a question or two for God. “Lord, why do I feel forgotten, beat up by friends, overlooked by those who should understand and love me, or pushed aside and forgotten?” My two friends reminded me of the story of the prophet Elijah. While you probably know it by heart, think about it again for a moment and ask yourself if you are ready to run—bolt through an emotional door—because of some mounting problem or disappointment.

After a tremendous victory or Mt Carmel, Elijah was ready to toss in the towel, fly a flag of surrender, and huddle in a forsaken cave of depression and fear miles away from where God placed him. Days earlier he slew 850 prophets of Baal, but after hearing words that amounted to no more than weak threats from Queen Jezebel, He cried out to God saying, “Lord, take away my life!” And you may have felt this same way.

How can we go from the pinnacle of success to the pit of discouragement so quickly? The answer is very simple: we forget that God lives, and He has not forgotten, forsaken, or dismissed us. He may allow us to feel hurt and frustration but neither of these are meant to defeat or discourage us. Instead, He wants to teach us a very important lesson and that is we can do nothing apart from Him. We can’t even enjoy the closeness of a friendship unless He is in the relationship with us.

The queen’s threats were empty and vain. Yet they instilled fear in the prophet’s heart and he took off running and did not stop until he reached the mountain of God. It was here that God asked his sojourning prophet, “What are you to doing?” In other words, “Why would you allow something—anything—to change the course I have set for you to follow? I AM, God. What is more powerful, persuasive, or important than doing what I have told you to do?” At least, we know Elijah ended up in a place where the Lord could get his attention. And this is what happened. After standing in the glory of His presence, Elijah realized what he had done and that he was not alone. And He never was.

Years ago Mrs. Forrest and I learned a very important lesson—take every problem, every heartfelt desire, and every distress to God in prayer. Prayer is not an effort but an attitude. We are to pray to Him in secret. Isn’t it wonderful sometimes when you are talking or listening to have a secret in your heart about a thing under discussion that you cannot tell anyone else but God? Just so in the midst of the confusions of life, we can enter that locked room in our heart and feel that Jesus is there with us, and [this thought] will always bring strength.

How do you overcome thoughts of doubt, insecurity, fear, jealousy, and anger? The best way is the surest way—through prayer. It is the very thing that got Elijah back on track. And it is my prayer that the same will be true for you.

(Taken from the online devotional book Grace in the Wilderness © 2007

Dr. Forrest’s sermon
Photo is of Dr. Forrest’s notes for his radio sermon preached on December 3, 1944.