Ponder and Pray

[ 0 ] February 13, 2009 |

Poignant statement: None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear. Ferdinand Fock, French general (1851 – 1929)


Subject: The Depressed and Fearful

Scripture: 1 King 19:3


People are fearful of all sorts of things. Here are some trivia for you to be tickled with. I was dumbfounded to see what people are afraid of in life.
Fear of all kinds:
Peladophobia: fear of baldness and bald people.
Aerophobia: fear of drafts.
Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple.
Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people.
Levophobia: fear of objects on the left side of the body.
Dextrophobia: fear of objects on the right side of the body.
Auroraphobia: fear of the northern lights.
Calyprophobia: fear of obscure meanings.
Thalassophobia: fear of being seated.
Stabisbasiphobia: fear of standing and walking.
Odontophobia: fear of teeth.
Graphophobia: fear of writing in public.
Phobophobia: fear of being afraid.
I find Elizah a very colorful prophet with many ups and down. James calls him a man just like us and how true it is and in some ways we can truly identify with him. In Chapter 18 he comes out as a man with great courage and unbounded energy. We all greatly appreciate his indomitable courage but then when we go to Chapter 19, we find him in a completely different situation. We even wonder if he is the same man who could challenge the whole gang of false prophets. But then it surely is him and he is depressed and fearful. The Bible says when he heard the threat of Queen Jezebel “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” Now he was really dominated with panic and ran away from a mere woman as fast his feet could carry. He is now not only fearful but greatly depressed too. We do not know what prompted him to do this. Can we somehow learn something from the fear and obvious depression of this precious man of God?

Just like the prophet at times we all go through fear and depression. Some say this happens to a lot of people who have had a very successful ministry. They are physically worn out, mentally shattered, emotionally drained and spiritually befuddled too. Whatever it may be but the double whammy of fear and depression makes our feet jelly and our hearts shake like bunch of frail leaves.

It shocks us when we realize that great men and women go through periods of deep, dark depression. For instance, Winston Churchill said, “Depression followed me around like a black dog all of my life.” A young lawyer in the 1800’s suffered such a deep depression that his friends did everything they could to keep all razors and knives away from him. He wrote these words, “I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not.” This lawyer later became the 16th president of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln. Even a man by the name of Charles Spurgeon was given to periods of depression. History tells us that there were times when Spurgeon would be so depressed that he would refuse to leave his home to go to church. On more than one occasion, his deacons had to come and physically carry their pastor to the pulpit.
When we were kicked out of Nepal by the then Chief District Officer of Lalitpur, some people thought that we had run away but it was not true. I was forced to leave Nepal in the night because the situation had become intolerable. While in Nakhu jail God spoke to me from His Word “..even a live dog is better off than a dead lion”. Ecc. 9:4. Many questioned our loyalty to our church etc. but those who knew us and our situation knew the reality. During that time and even later in India I was fearful and depressed and at times felt guilty. I began to think ‘if I am a man of God then it is wrong to be fearful and depressed.’ But experience of this great prophet of God consoled me and gave me courage to go on even while being afraid and depressed. In the life of Elijah these debilitating emotions were a passing phase. The Lord in His perfect time lifts His people out of deep mire of fear and depression. Every valley has its hills.

At times it is ok to be afraid and run away just like Elijah. At times the best form of defense is withdrawal. David ran away from his own son Absalom. We could ask how come the one who killed Goliath run away from his own son but this is what he did for reasons known to him. Who are we to question and judge him? We must not judge a person when they take step that seem to be not right. The one who called fire to consume the sacrifice and kill the false could he not just kill Jezebel? When you have slain giants why be afraid of a puny irritating fly? Well, just do not judge.

These examples are given to us to know that saints are those people who are just like us and we need to learn from them. In fact Elijah was not only running away from the queen but he was filled with anger and self-pity. This is the emotional upheaval that all of us go through from time to time and at such times we need to hold on to God. Last week I was preaching in the church and was telling the congregation that when the storm comes we will get shaken violently but if we are rooted and grounded in God we will never be uprooted and demolished. Always remember you will definitely be shaken but never forsaken.

But then later on again we find Elijah full of faith and confidence as he publicly rebukes the King of Israel. In order to confront the King he needed some talking with God and God also had to speak to him.

Are you fearful and depressed today? You are not the only one just as Elijah said I am the only one left and God told him that there are 7000 people who have not bowed before the god Baal. When you think you are the only one just remember that it is never true. Learn from David who said “When I am afraid I will trust in the Lord.” It was right for the disciple to cry out in fear, Lord; don’t you know we are perishing? When our situation becomes intolerable let us cling to God tenaciously and know that God will never let us suffer beyond our capacity.

Poignant statement: None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear. Ferdinand Fock, French general (1851 – 1929)

Prayer: Lord, Before the storm of life baffles me help me to be rooted in you. Then even though shaken I will not be uprooted.

Republished in new layout on 8/19/2013

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Category: Devotion