Many of the Friendship Club members know the easy way in but some of you do not know how readily you may get out of despondency. As a young Christian you came up against a devilish thing; devilish because Satan is the father of it,—discouragement. Do you not remember the delightful experiences of the first days of your Christian life? You were on the mountain top after coming out of the pit and miry clay of the past. The Bible was sweet. You ate it and relished it, and prayer was a great pleasure. To talk with people about their souls was just as easy as rolling off a log.
Then there came into your life awful discouragement. The enemy came up against you and you fell into temptation and despaired of ever being able to live and serve the Lord in the Christian life. And then the Lord came down to where you were and lifted you again and started you in the right direction. He encouraged and strengthened your heart, and then in the failure He taught you a new lesson.
Have you ever had the blues? Have you ever felt doubtful about the Christian life; doubted whether you could go on, and wondered if you had not made a mistake in starting? If you have not had an experience similar to this, then you have yours coming to you.
Let us look at a peculiar prayer of a mighty servant of God. First Kings 19:4, “He requested for himself that he might die; and said, it is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”
It is enough. I have got all I can stand. I can’t bear any more. “Oh Lord, take away my life!” Just think of that. A man of God getting down in the dumps to that degree. Take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers. That is, I am no good. You know who this man is. It is Elijah. When did he utter this remarkable prayer? Just after he came down from Mt. Carmel.
You remember one of the first pictures you ever saw when you began to attend the Sunday School. Elijah standing with the prophets of Baal around him with fire from heaven consuming the sacrifice on the altar. He left the mount and ran by the side of Ahab’s chariot unto Jezreel. Ahab went into his summer palace to tell his wife what had happened. He then sent out a messenger to find and threaten Elijah with death. She gave him twenty-four hours to live, if he did not die of fright before that time. The messenger scared Elijah so that he ran away in the wrong direction.
When you get scared don’t run at all. If you run it will be the wrong direction. As a Christian you don’t have to run, but your enemy is obliged to flee. The Word of God says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”—James 4:7.
You just stand still and lift up a prayer to Jesus, and say, Lord, look what I am up against, help me. And, believe me, the devil will have to run when you utter the name of Jesus in faith. When there is any running to be done let the devil’s messenger do it. There is nothing too hard for the Lord. He can save you and He can keep you and He can give you success in your Christian life day by day, and bring you out at last exulting, and victorious over all the power of the enemy.
The Way of Fear
The road into despondency is the way of fear. The first thing we find about fear is that it gives you a distorted view of life. A wrong view of God and God’s plan for your life. You see things that do not exist. The devil comes and twists things and makes them like the things you see in a trick mirror. Discouragement is always of the devil, and it is one of the best tools the devil has. Someone has written a tract in which it is said that discouragement is the devil’s very best tool. It appears that the devil was going to have a sale of his tools. He has many tools. He has a little tool called jealousy, and another called wrath, and another tool called sensuality and many others that he uses constantly. He is not selling any of them, but here is the story. He put out a sign and marked prices on the tools. A great many persons came to look. The various tools were all marked up, but the price on discouragement was so great that the buyers asked why? The devil said, “to tell you the truth,” (think of the devil telling the truth) “discouragement is worth more to me than any tool I have in my kit.”
The devil does not have to use discouragement with the world but he puts discouragement into the hearts of God’s children.
Think of Elijah, the man of God, running from a threat which fell from a woman’s tongue. A woman’s tongue started something that time. He ran until he came to a place called Beersheba, and tradition tells us that there he left his young servant Jonah, son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8). Jonah may have gotten his first lesson in running away from God right there. Elijah went on toward the wilderness and fell down under the juniper tree where he uttered his strange prayer. “I am no good. It is enough. Take away my life. Oh, Lord, take me to heaven!” The Lord answered. He sent a special chariot to take him to heaven, but before that, He took Elijah out of the valley of depression. He gave him the privilege of calling Elisha to take up the mantle that he was going to throw down. God did not take His servant out of the valley of discouragement into heaven. He gave him victory first.
The Way of Faith
We get out of discouragement by the road of faith. The road begins down under the juniper tree. You realize that your life is a failure. You feel you are no good and you can’t do anything. You did want to influence your friends in the Club and lead souls to Christ, but you have gotten to the place where you know you are worthless. There you are under the juniper tree. Look for the road of faith. Right there is where it starts and where the road of success has its beginning. When we come to the end of ourselves and have no faith in ourselves, then we are at the place where we can enter into the road of faith in God. “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me”—2 Corinthians 12:9. You furnish the weakness and God will supply strength. Then we may go from faith to faith and from victory to victory.
You may be far from handsome and have even disfigurements which make you repulsive to look upon, but God has made you a glorious creation in the second birth. As a new creation God made you to shine with his glory. God made you to be beautiful in His sight, and to live a life that will reflect his goodness. God made you to enter into all the fullness of blessing and victory that He has purchased for you in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do we understand what it means to be a new creature in Christ Jesus? Do you know that when Jesus died that you died with Him? You were nailed there on the cross with Him. As Christ died and was buried, you were buried with Him and as Jesus arose up out of the grave you were raised and you ascended and you took your seat at the right hand of God with Him. That is your position as a Christian, whether young or old. You are wholly identified with Christ. Your state is a very different thing, and at times you may be in a state of despair.
But God means for you to have a joyous, victorious, Christian experience. You may have fallen into temptation, but why grovel there in despair? Why not arise in the strength of the Lord, cleanse your soiled garments, take encouragement, and go on rejoicing in Him?