What Does God Think When You Want to Give Up?
Inside: Where is God when you want to give up? The spiral might start with self-doubt or fear, and pretty soon we have sunk so low that we wonder if we can recover. Worse yet, we worry about what God thinks: Does He care? Is He judging us? Discover the life-changing truth about what God thinks when you want to give up.
One winter I sunk deep and fast into a depression. I couldn’t trace the source, and it didn’t really matter. I was deeply sad and couldn’t see my way out. With the gray days and early nights of winter, hopelessness took root and tangled my soul.
Desperate for help, I reached out to a friend who I knew lived in daily battle and victory over depression. We met for dinner. She listened graciously and patiently as I said things like, “I don’t know what to do. I keep trying to claw my way out of this. I can’t seem to get myself out of it.”
Gently she asked, “Why do you think you have to get yourself out of it?” This was not-so-secret code for, “You’re trying to do something you cannot do. Only God can do it!”
Please remember that I was not dealing with clinical depression, which is a much more serious condition and one for which I have deep compassion.
I went home that night and threw myself at the Lord’s feet: “Please save me. Only you can do this.”
The next day, the sky was bluer and my countenance somewhat lighter. Several weeks later, I wouldn’t have recognized my previously discouraged self.
When you want to give up–especially when you want to give up–it is more important than ever to listen for God’s voice and surrender to God’s will.
We can learn a lot from a low time in Elijah’s life. You might want to skip down and read 1 Kings 19:1-9, where we see the aftermath of Elijah’s victory over the prophets of Baal. Queen Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life, and in fear, Elijah ran. He ran far and fast and collapsed in utter discouragement.
You may recall that earlier, God had told Elijah to go to the brook Cherith, and God had fed him there. Then God had told Elijah to go to the Zarephath, where He had arranged for a widow to feed Elijah for the duration of the drought.
This time, though, Elijah didn’t wait to hear from God. Fear took over, and he ran for his life. In fact, by the time he reached his destination, God asked him rhetorically, “What are you doing here?” It’s enough to make you wonder where God would have directed Elijah had Elijah waited to hear from the Lord!
Don’t we do the same thing? We let our emotions take over, and we dart about in random directions, not allowing God to speak into the situation.
Consider God’s tender and active compassion in the midst of Elijah’s anguish:
Elijah ran to Beersheba and then ran for a day into the wilderness. There he lay down under a tree and told God it had all been too much. Could God please take away his life? he asked. At this very moment in Elijah’s pit of despair, an angel appeared, touched him, and gave him food and water to strengthen him on his journey.
When you’re too tired and afraid to go on, God has a word, and it isn’t, “I’m disappointed in you” or “Get off your duff.” Instead, it is, “Here, have some food to strengthen you. I am with you for the journey ahead.”
I love that the angel touched Elijah. There is a tenderness in that. In the midst of your despair, don’t run from God’s tender touch. As much as you can muster, let Him in to minister to your soul.
God Blessed Elijah Beyond Our Imagination
I love, love, love this. Are you ready for it?
In his hopelessness, when he could not fathom going on, Elijah pleaded with God, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
Now jump for a minute to 2 Kings 2 and ponder this amazing act of compassion: Not only did God not let Elijah die of despair or hunger, but He did not even let Elijah die an earthly death! Despite Elijah’s depression, God spared this fully surrendered servant the perils of death here on earth and instead carried him straight into heaven by a whirlwind, accompanied by chariots and horses of fire.
How compassionate is our God?!!
God Stayed with Elijah Despite Elijah’s Wandering
Our friend Elijah ran for his life without listening for God’s direction. He was about to give up, when God touched him and gave him food and drink to strengthen him for his journey. Finally, when Elijah had traveled a great distance over many days and had settled into a cave in Mount Horeb, God spoke to Elijah. Elijah had failed to listen to God, he had lost confidence in God, and he had taken a few wrong turns. Yet God was with him, guarding, guiding, and directing him.
So it is with us.
What does God think about you when you want to give up?
- He cares for you.
- He wants to touch you and strengthen you.
- He won’t ever leave your side.
Which one of those characteristics of God resonates with you today? Be sure to work through the Digging Deeper questions today or throughout the week, as you consider where God is and what He is doing when you are not feeling up to going on.
Do you need help surrendering your situation to God? Click on one of these links to access a free printable of a Prayer of Surrender!
For questions to guide your quiet time, scroll down to the Digging Deeper questions.
Digging into God’s Word: When You Want to Give Up
Soak in this precious passage of scripture. Let God speak into your life through His word to Elijah.
1 Kings 19:1-9 (ESV)
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
The LORD Speaks to Elijah
9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Digging Deeper: God’s Word for You Today
Enjoy this time with the Lord! Breathe. As you are able, spend time with God, reflecting on these questions or journaling your thoughts.
1. Read 1 Kings 19:1-9. What evidence of God’s care for Elijah do you see in this passage? When has God shown care to you in your life?
2. Can you relate to Elijah’s fear and fatigue? Do you know that feeling of wanting to give up? What in this passage encourages you to trust God to sustain you?
3. In today’s passage, Elijah forgot to wait for direction from the Lord. Is there an area of life for which you’d like to ask God for direction? Pray about that now, asking God to help you trust Him and to help you surrender to Him. If you like, you can use the prayer of surrender below, or print out your free printable of it here (8.5 X 11 version, half-page version).
Dear Lord, I come to you now, in need of your wisdom and direction. I bring to you this situation [name it, describe it]. . . . I open my hands and my heart to hear from you [open your hands]. Help me to hear your voice clearly. . . . What you have asked me to do, help me to do with faith and courage. What you have asked me to release, help me to release to you and not grab back as if I know better than you. I surrender to your will. Give my feet your direction and my will your will instead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
4. As you worship with these songs, let them breathe life into you:
God I Look to You (Francesca Battistelli)
Forever Reign (Running to Your Arms; Hillsong)
One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails; Jesus Culture)
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To start this series from the beginning, click this link: Elijah: Fully Surrendered.
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