“Elijah was…just like us…” (James 5:17 NIV)
There are times in life when we ALL feel down. Today, we’ll take notice of how Elijah got Down, but more importantly, HOW HE GOT BACK UP:
1…IT HAPPENED ON THE HEELS OF A GREAT VICTORY: He didn’t start out in Doldrums (which is defined as a state of stagnation or depression), and he didn’t fall into sin (as most saints like to analyze and assume that’s the cause to every downcast spirit). NO, ON THE CONTRARY, he’d just called down fire from heaven and slain 450 false prophets (1 Kings 18:22-39)! So he went from Exhilaration to Exhaustion IN AN INSTANT! Ever been there? I know I have. Elijah was weary, with his defenses down and vulnerability up, so he fell into a natural depression, because fatigue always strips us of focus and fight! And to tell the truth, we could really be a blessing to others if we’d all simply learned to be honest enough to share with folks that “I’ve been there.” When everything was going right, and then out of nowhere, in the midst of the battle you had to cry out, “I’ve been hit!” In my own personal life, I went from shouting Sunday, to rushed to the hospital Wednesday, to have my dad pass away Friday. My body, soul and spirit all shut completely down! And I even began to feel guilty, as though my title didn’t entitle me to breakdown (PEOPLE OF GOD, DON’T EVER BELIEVE SUCH A LIE!) But I thank God for a nucleus of honest folks that simply said, ‘the preacher in you may not want to cry, but the daughter in you has too. Be real, be free, and do what you got to do to get through.‘ Will that be an easy task to accomplish? Absolutely not! Because before I knew it, I ended up crying out yet again, “I’ve been hit!” My mom became ill and I became her guardian in more ways than I could count. It was first some complications due to diabetes, then over the course of five years added to her health struggles was a toe amputation; breast cancer (which led to a loss of hair); her skin started to breakout in acne, sores and rashes, kidney failure and dialysis; over 20 pills a day; a cane; then a walker; then surgeries. She ended up having to retire from work, and could no longer do her own laundry or groceries, or go to her doctor appointments or pharmacy alone. She could no longer even bathe herself. Then cooking and cleaning became a hardship. She ended up on a portable oxygen machine that she hated with a passion. Finally, she went one day to have her vein port checked, she didn’t feel well at the doctor after the procedure and yet went home anyway. A few minutes after being home, she collapsed and stopped breathing. By the time she arrived at the hospital, she had gone too long without oxygen to the brain. She was comatose from March 16th to the day before the plug was pulled on April 1st and she passed away. I share this all with you, because we all suffer hurt, depression, struggle, confusion, dismay, anger and the like. And the most dangerous thing you can do for your body, soul, spirit, heart and mind, is to pretend like you’re unaffected, especially when you have a title, and therefore, don’t feel entitled to breakdown. I didn’t cry during her service, funeral, or even burial. It actually took me a few days before it really hit, that she’s gone. And that’s when I broke. More than her loss of life was the guilt of knowing that this was the one and only doctor’s appointment that I didn’t take her to personally. So the what if’s became like daily daggers to my body, soul and spirit. And can I tell you I’m over it all, honestly? No, that would not be the full truth. I still struggle, especially during holidays, or if my mind wanders to a particular memory. What I’m saying folks is it’s okay to be hit, and to hurt and even to cry and bleed. But don’t stop there. Keep moving towards healing. Just know that you’ll never get to healing with honesty. So even if you were just promoted, got the house, got the car, got the clean bill of health, had the baby, got married, passed the test, graduated school…know that for every high, lows come on their heels. It’s not sinful to want to throw in the towel after being so high, only to be hit so low. Which is why you have to learn to guard yourself when you’re walking through your bed of roses…thorns are still ever present! Elijah went from high to low in an instant, and so have many of us. So don’t feel guilty! Leader and laity alike, we all get dealt some very harsh life blows. And yet I encourage you to keep going (even if you have to make some pit stops along the way to catch your second wind), still keep going. Never stop moving towards healing! Just Remember: The Best Way To Get Up…Is To Get Honest…Especially With Yourself, Than Others!
2…FEAR CAUSED HIM TO LOSE PERSPECTIVE: The man of God who’d just faced down an evil MULTITUDE, ended up running from ONE WOMAN (1 Kings 19)! Fear made him forget God’s power; it skewed (distorted) his perspective and left him feeling suicidal! Exhaustion coupled with Fear is Dangerous! It invites feelings of hopelessness, wrongful thinking, and creates the illusion that your options are all gone! I’ve been there too, when fear gripped me so badly that I felt like it had a choke-hold on me! To an extent it crippled my perspective! Everything was going wrong AT THE SAME TIME! Within the span of a few months I had 3 back-to-back health issues, surgery, marriage challenges, a dead father, a sick mother and 2 unemployed, struggling family members, depending on me to carry them through! All I wanted to do was crawl in a hole and never resurface again! It was as if multiple gunshots were piercing me and I was losing too much blood to hold on any longer! Fear had a vice-grip on me. 1 John 4:18 says it like this, “fear hath torment“ And that’s how I felt, and I’m sure how Elijah felt… “tormented”. But bear in mind, that same text declares, “…perfect love casteth out fear.“ Holding on to the perfect, unconditional love of God will refocus your fearful perspective every time, no matter what or who you’re facing! Here’s another personal testimony: I went to have a mammogram done the first week of 2019. The results came to my primary doctor that the left breast was fine, but the right one needed to have further mammogram imaging and a possible ultrasound, since the mammogram was obscured. I received that letter and please let me share my complete honesty with you. My first reaction was I cried. I was nervous and fearful. I immediately thought of all the worst case scenarios. The first thing that popped in my mind was that my mom had breast cancer (she didn’t die from it, and was a year later cleared, but in my mind, she still had it, and possibly I did too). Fear immediately shifted my focus and perspective to death instead of life. It actually wasn’t until I went into my daily prayer in my living-room one morning when it hit me. The letter did not say I had breast cancer, it didn’t even suggest that. All it really said was that my mammogram was inconclusive and needed further testing. However, in that moment on that previous night, that’s not how the letter read in my mind at least. But being in prayer, and sharing my heart with God and having Him share His with me, brought a calm that I gave away to fear, freely. I needed to make another appointment, get the tests done, wait for the results, walk by faith, believe the report of the Lord that by His stripes I am healed. And when my doctor does call, we’ll go from there. I reiterate, I share this with you because sometimes we can feel like we lose a portion of our calling, anointing, gifts and ministry because we’re honest that life dealt us a blow that we weren’t prepared to receive. However, that is not the case at all. Let no one and nothing make you feel as if you are ever doing life alone. Your God is an ever present God. There’s nowhere you can go and He not already be there. You can cry, pace, and even get on the verge of throwing in the towel, and still God will be right there saying, ‘as soon as you’re done, I’ll be right here for you to talk to.’ Being saved does not in any way exempt us from trials, struggles, pain, hurt, loss, and the like. It doesn’t even exempt us from moments of human feelings of being nervous, panicked, fearful, scared or worried. The great thing for us however, is that we have a loving Father that we can take all of that too. He’s ready and willing to catch anything we cast on Him! Therefore, People of God, no matter what’s going on, what’s going wrong or what’s going nowhere…REFOCUS! GOD WILL ALWAYS USE HIS PERFECT LOVE TO SHIFT YOUR FOCUS FROM FEAR BACK TO FAITH!
3…HE BECAME ISOLATED: Elijah left his servant at Beersheba and journeyed into the wilderness ALONE (1 Kings 19:3-4). When you most need support, anxiety, a sense of inadequacy and fear of failure, will push you into isolation every time! At that point you’re in the worst possible company – YOUR OWN! Elijah thought, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me” (vs 10, 14). Translated: “It’s bad and I can’t see it getting any better!” Note that WHEN YOU’RE DOWN, THAT’S THE WRONG TIME TO ISOLATE YOURSELF! That’s when you need to reach for God, and the people who love you and can help you back up! Here’s some more honesty for you, I’m a loner by nature. I don’t like crowds, and sometimes even one other person is a crowd to me, especially if I’m going through something. The worse part for me is that when I’m hurting I don’t want anyone to see it, hear it or know it. So I often go into isolation. Family and friends don’t hear from me. I become very closed off and distant. If you get two words out of me in an hour that’s a lot. I don’t answer my phone. And for some this will be a system shocker, but the one place I have a bad tendency to avoid is church. As a leader, I came up under the ‘fake it till you make it’ era; show no signs of weakness or fear; hide everything and share nothing; dress up and show up no matter what. Such training however, causes you to have a very skewed mindset. I would began to feel like, ‘I’m in Elder, they can’t see me crying; I’m a Doctor of Christian Education with a second doctorate in Pastoral Care and Leadership; I have 10 degrees under my belt; I’ve overcome some crazy physical, mental, emotional and spiritual attacks; people can’t see me have a weak moment, what would they think? I’m married to an Elder; we’ve raised our children by faith to believe God for any and everything, how can I let anyone see my vessel has cracks? People come to me for wisdom, counsel, advice and direction, what do I look like going to them for the same things? I travel and teach and preach the Power of God, His Word, His Will and His Way, I can’t let anyone see that I’m now struggling to pray, avoiding His Word, not sure if I’m all the way in His Will and feel as lost as if I were never found.’ Please hear my heart when I tell you, do not isolate yourself with only yourself, when you’re down and out! As a matter of fact, today is a good day to re-exam your circle and the company you keep. Do you have people who know how to wipe your tears, who can hear your silence, who are genuine shoulders to lean on and trusted ears? Do you have people that know when to let you cry, and then when to tell you that’s the last tear I better see fall! Do you have people that will call you out of your isolation? Do you have faith infusers when your fears are draining your faith of substance? You need people in your circle that refuse to allow you to ball up in the corner and die! Pay Attention to the Admonishment of Scripture: “How can two walk together accept they agree?” “Jesus sent them out two-by-two.” “One will chase a thousand, and two will put ten thousand to flight.” So never isolate yourself when going through! Galatians 6 says, “…Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens…” If you’ll take a brief moment to lift your bowed down head, you may be surprised at how many are, “Stooped down and reaching out willing to help you bear your burdens…” You my friend are not in this life journey alone! There are people all around you who will be there with you during the u-turns; wrong turns; dead-ends; cliffs ahead; slippery roads; caution paths; steep valley’s and seemingly immovable mountains. You are not alone! We are one church with many members, but most importantly we are ONE UNITED CHURCH! Don’t separate yourself in times of struggle!
SO, after all of that, what was God’s prescription for getting Elijah back on his feet? A lecture on the Prophet’s faltering faith? NO! JUST REST AND NOURISHMENT! I know you thought it would be something really deep right (as church folks, we always do)?! But God recognizes our limitations, even when we don’t. His Word declares, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3). The Message Bible says it like this, “He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and He won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but He’ll steadily and firmly set things right.”
Therefore, People of God, WHEN YOU’RE DOWN, DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF! GET AROUND THOSE WHO WILL HELP YOU REST AND AID YOU WITH NOURISHMENT! SPIRITUAL ANOINTING SHOULD NEVER RESULT IN NATURAL ABUSE! YOU ARE NEVER SO ANOINTED THAT YOU IGNORE THE SIGNS THAT YOU’RE BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT HAVE TAKEN ON TOO MUCH BURDEN AND TOO MUCH BAGGAGE! MATURITY IS A GOOD BALANCE OF SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL WELL BEING!
When we neglect our own LEGITIMATE NEEDS, it shows up in our Attitude!
And God understands that being down is a “Perspective” problem, and getting back up simply requires an Adjustment in four crucial areas:
(a) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S GOD-PERSPECTIVE: “Get in the presence of God and he’ll meet with you“ (1 Kings 19:11). The One who gave Elijah victory on Mount Carmel, could also sustain him in the desert of Jezreel! But first Elijah had to spend time with Him, otherwise he was stalled on an emptying tank! People of God, Before You Can Deal With Your Problem, You’ve Got to Dwell In His Presence!
(b) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S WORLD-PERSPECTIVE: Elijah said, “God’s covenant is broken, His altar destroyed, His prophet’s murdered, and I’m the only one left.” (vs. 14) But God showed Elijah that He still had the necessary resources and strategies to accomplish His purposes, even in a hostile environment! So, People of God, stop allowing your limitations to limit God! You Are Not All God Has Left! So when you need to sit out a few games, don’t feel as though you’ve lost your position, you’re just being repositioned to regain new strength in order to win!
(c ) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S SELF-PERSPECTIVE: The Prophet saw himself as helpless and inadequate: “Lord, let me die…I am no better than those who preceded me.” (vs. 4). But God showed him there were still kings to anoint, battles to win, and He “…knew the plans He had…” for Elijah, and the important role he was to play in all of it (vs. 16). You May Want to Throw in the Towel, But There’s Far Too Much More God Has For You To Do! So, People of God, Take That Same Towel, Wipe Your Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Weep From the Pain, Wrap Your Wounds, and Keep On Fighting!
(d) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S FRIENDSHIP-PERSPECTIVE: He sent Elisha to minister to him (vs. 21). You’re not supposed to carry it alone! No matter how big and bad you think you are! Allow yourself to need help, and watch who God sends! Church, Check Your Friendship Circle and Make Sure Your Elisha Is Present! If He Is, Lean On Him, If He’s Not Locate Him!
Today, ask God to Adjust Your Perspectives and Help You to Refocus!
Truth is, You’ve Been Down Long Enough…It’s Time You Finally Get Back Up, the Kingdom and the World Has Need of YOU!
“A person who falls and gets back up, is much stronger than a person who never fell.” (Author Unknown)
“In life, many things don’t go according to plan. If you fall, get back up. If you stumble, regain your balance. Never give up.” (Author Unknown)
“Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been, to stand up taller than you ever were.” (Author Unknown)
“Never quit. If you stumble, get back up. What happened yesterday no longer matters. Today’s another day, so get back on track and move closer to your dreams and goals. You can do it.” (Author Unknown)
“Never let a stumble be the end of your journey.” (Author Unknown)
“The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure.” (Stephen Richards)
“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs, but how high he bounces back when he hits bottom.” (George S. Patton, Jr.)
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” (Author Unknown)
“Everyone gets knocked down in life, but not everyone bounces back. Victory belongs to those who manage to get back on their feet every time.” (Author Unknown)
“Get your fire back. It’s not over until God says it’s over. Start believing again. Start dreaming again. Start pursuing what God put in your heart.” (Author Unknown)
“No matter how many steps you take away from God, it still only takes one to get back.” (Author Unknown)
“God didn’t give you the strength to get back on your feet so that you can run back to the same things that knocked you down.” (Marvin Sapp)
“For every set back, God has a major come back.” (Author Unknown)
“No matter how many times you get knocked down, keep getting back up. He sees your determination. And when you do everything you can do, that’s when God will step in and do what you can’t do.” (Joel Osteen)
“Don’t forget you’re human. It’s okay to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you’re headed.” (Author Unknown)
“God will give you new pictures. Instead of going back into your memory, let God move you into your future through your imagination. Your memory replays your past; your imagination pre-plays your future.” (Mike Murdock)
“It’s time for you to get back up again! It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve fallen or how many times you’ve messed up. God still has a plan for your life and He’s telling you to get back up again!” (Matthew Johnson)
“There is no setback you can face in life that God doesn’t already have a comeback plan for.” (Author Unknown)
“Don’t let setbacks set you back; turn them into challenges and get back on track.” (Patrick Manifold)
“The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth.” (Charles Stanley)
“The comeback is always stronger than the setback.” (Author Unknown)
“Failure: it can destroy you or it can make you so freakin’ mad that you work even harder to become the winner you know you are.” (Author Unknown)
“Making a comeback is one of the most difficult things to do with dignity.” (Greg Lake)
“Try to avoid complaints. Self-pity, even when legitimate, never fails to undermine your strength.” (Mariane Pearl)
“One must not let oneself be overwhelmed by sadness.” (Jackie Onasis)
Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #ShareTheWord #HappyGoodFriday
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