Elijah is one of the greatest examples in the Bible of boldness in the face of adversity. He proclaimed God’s message at a time when the northern kingdom of Israel had turned its back on the Lord to worship foreign gods. He wasn’t, however, immune to discouragement.
After Elijah’s victory at Mount Carmel, when Israel appeared to turn back to the LORD, Queen Jezebel tried to kill him. In response, Elijah ran and “went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’” (1 Kings 19:4).
As Elijah’s life illustrates, discouragement often results in a loss of confidence and can lead to fatigue, frustration, and fear.
What can we learn from the example of this mighty prophet for our own evangelism efforts?
1. Recognize that we are a part of a greater work. Elijah thought that he stood alone in God’s plan: “I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:14). This caused him great anxiety and distress. God graciously reminded him that He had “reserved seven thousand in Israel” who were faithful to Him. Sometimes it is easy to think we are all alone in our outreach efforts and that the sole responsibility falls on us. Evangelism is a team effort, and we need to surround ourselves with like-minded believers for encouragement.
2. Focus on obedience, not outcomes. After the victory on Mount Carmel, Elijah thought that the tide would turn and that all of Israel would repent. Little did Elijah know that a short time later he would be running for his life. It is very tempting in evangelism to measure our success by results, particularly the results we visualize beforehand (someone trusting Christ immediately, revival breaking out, etc.). While those things are possible, they should not be our measuring stick. Our sole goal should be to obey Him. The results, whether positive or negative, are in His hands.
3. When times get tough, seek God’s face. When Elijah was exhausted, afraid, and discouraged, the Lord refreshed Elijah with His own presence. When we feel the same in evangelism, nothing will revive and restore us more than the presence of the Lord. God can provide us with counsel, encouragement, direction, and strength when we draw close to Him. He is sufficient.
- Listen to David Souther and Larry Moyer discuss the landmine of discouragement in Season 2: Episode 6 of The EvanTell Podcast