“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.
By Stephen J. Carter, teacher of “LifeLight Bible Study Series” for the past 15 years
Mountaintop and valley
“Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, ‘It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’ And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ ” (1 Kings 19: 3–5)
Consider reading: 1 Kings 18:17–19:18
When might you be most vulnerable spiritually as a pastor or church worker?
A time of vulnerability may occur after a meaningful accomplishment when your heart thrills with a spiritual high.
The story of the bold prophet Elijah in 1 Kings gives us a picture of spiritual discouragement that occurs after a spiritual high point.
1 Kings 18–19 might serve to help us deal with that discouragement.
You might know the story:
Elijah was a prophet of God, charged with the responsibility of proclaiming God’s Word in a wicked period of Israel’s history.
Against the opposition of Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah stood strong.
Sustained by the Lord during a period of drought and famine, he continued to honor Yahweh as the one true God against all the false claims of Baal worship.
In a dramatic confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, Elijah won a clear-cut victory as the people confessed Yahweh as God.
Soon afterward he correctly predicted the end of the drought.
It might be easy to think Elijah didn’t need help for his ministry.
He was successful, but 1 Kings 19 paints the full story.
In this chapter, the Bible describes the low point in Elijah’s ministry.
Jezebel threatens his life. Discouraged and alone, he flees into the wilderness of Beersheba and asks the Lord to take his life.
Sustained by an angel, he is led after 40 days to Mt. Horeb, where Moses met God at the burning bush.
When God asks his reason for coming, Elijah replies that Israel has forsaken the true God and that he is the only true prophet left.
Elijah, a self-pitying fugitive, desperately needs help for his prophetic ministry and his life.
In His grace, God does not overpower Elijah with a strong wind of His presence, an earthquake, or a fire, but He speaks to his heart with a still, small voice.
Elijah receives instructions for his ongoing ministry. He is assured that he is not alone in Israel but that 1,000 remain faithful.
Elisha becomes a spiritual companion and support for him. Elijah is refreshed for ministry with a combination of Law and Gospel to forgive and heal his troubled heart.
Whether we are experiencing a spiritual victory or mired in discouragement, the need for God’s refreshment persists. The need is both personal and professional.
We need the still, small voice of His Word, bringing us Jesus as strength and guidance for our life and ministry.
Lord, thank You for spiritual victories. Lift me up when discouraged through Your forgiveness and healing so that I might be refreshed for ongoing ministry with joy in Jesus. Amen.
“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” devotions and prayers will be released Monday mornings on the LCMS Facebook and Twitter pages. Church Worker Wellness devotions will also be archived online.
LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to email@example.com.