The Spiritual/Physical Link in Discouragement

“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” (1 Kings 19:3).

In a move that seemed out of character, Elijah fled before Queen Jezebel, hurrying to the desert regions to hide. When an angel met him, he provided Elijah food and rest. Elijah was burdened for the future of Israel and its leadership, but God was already aware of this.

Elijah grew discouraged after experiencing a great victory in his ministry. Was it pride? Was it simple fear? Whatever it was, sometimes the remedy can be so obvious that we miss it. Elijah needed physical rest and care.

God did not make us robots, nor are we immune to the physical and emotional ups and downs of Christian ministry. At times, our spirits sours with profound joy and elations; at others times we sink under the weight of all the pressures of serving God. But before we take drastic measures, remember some good advice that’s been repeated for ages:

1. Do not make quick decisions when tired or fatigued.
We cannot help but grow pessimistic when tired or lacking physical energy. The world looks rather gloomy through those tired eyes. Our spirits seem to sink with our listless bodies. At times we just need rest and diversion. Jesus called away His disciples for rest and for seasons of prayer.

2. Get the rest your body needs.
Some Christians suppose it’s wrong to get away or rest, but their own grumpiness tells them something different. What good are we when we drag everyone around us down with gloom and pessimism? First get rest, and then God will probably reenlist you in His service. Of course, sometimes God calls us to extended seasons of service, where we get little rest. Paul sometimes served “In toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Corinthians 11:27).

But we cannot continually run down our bodies without paying a price.

3. Understand the link between the spiritual and physical.
When we experience forms of physical suffering, God draws close and we experience His wonderful, comforting presence. But we can also fall prey to temptations from the evil one who whispers in our ear, “God doesn’t care about you,” or, “You’re the only one serving God. What’s it all worth?” When we cry out in pain or deep fatigue, we need to ask God to strengthen our spiritual life as well as the physical.

Remember God will reward your faithful service, and will lift you up as you keep your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). When we consider Jesus, it won’t be long before our hearts grow encouraged, ready once again to be used by Him:

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3).


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