Anxiety can sneak up on us. It may be a relationship that is stressful, health issues, increasing job demands, family stressors, financial challenges, or a combination of things; many times we reach a point of being overwhelmed and fearful because it’s all too much. We can’t do it anymore. In 1 Kings we see God’s servant Elijah overcome by fear and uncertainty. Even after God had displayed his power and provision in Elijah’s life again and again, he comes undone when Queen Jezebel threatens his life. Yes, that would be quite unsettling, but in light of the great power God has displayed in Elijah’s life, it really shouldn’t unravel this mighty man of God. What would cause someone who has just experienced an overwhelming victory against 850 false prophets to cower in fear and run away? Elijah is overwhelmed with anxiety and spirals downward in depression until he stops to listen to God’s voice and recognizes that God is nearby, as close as a whisper.
Scriptures – Ph 4:4-7; 1 Kings 19:3-4, 11; Ro 8:38-39
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Ph 4:4-7)
We can learn from Elijah’s mistakes. 1) Exhaustion can lead to anxiety. Elijah had defeated 850 false prophets. Even when you are working for the Lord, you are not exempt from exhaustion. Elijah was too tired to deal rationally with Jezebel’s threats, so he ran away. When we feel anxiety rising, we need to stop and get some rest. Let our bodies and minds heal so we can do a better job coping with our situation. 2) Elijah left everyone behind and isolated himself. Not a good plan. When anxiety is pressing upon us, we need to reach out to our friends, those who can love us, encourage us and help us get back on track. 3) Elijah exaggerated his situation. Jezebel’s threat caused him to pray, “It’s too much, Lord. Take away my life; I might as well be dead!” That’s extreme. When we are tired and weary every problem appears insurmountable. Getting rest and relying on Christian friends will help keep us from exaggerating our situation. 4) Elijah forgot God’s power, provision, promises and protection. Elijah had been living in God’s power, but suddenly he behaves as if God has abandoned him. Elijah had to again rely on God to get him through. We must not forget all that God has done in our lives. He is faithful, so don’t despair. God was close. God revealed himself to Elijah in a gentle whisper. We may wish for something in writing, something loud and pronounced, but God is so close he only needs to whisper if we will just listen.
Have you ever experienced prolonged anxiety? What can trigger anxiety for you? How do you cope with the first signs of anxiety? How do you help someone who is battling anxiety? How do you establish new response patterns for the things that can trigger anxiety?
If you are experiencing anxiety, get some rest and ask for help. When you are tired and anxious you don’t process the situations in life as you should. Allow a Christian friend to help you navigate. Pray and seek God’s guidance.
Dear Lord, thank you for always being there. Help me to listen to your voice and draw near to you and to my Christians friends for comfort, strength and encouragement when anxiety floods my mind. Help me to focus on you and all you’ve done in my life. You promise to never leave or forsake me. Help me to rest in that truth. In Jesus Name I pray, amen.