Today’s post on JOY covers the story of a man in the Bible that I can relate to more than I want to. But I have also learned more about myself through his life. It lays out a perfect prescription for depression. I’m talking about Elijah. If ever there was a person who shouted victory from the mountaintop one minute and fell at warp speed into the valley the next it was Elijah. I’m going to try to stay on task though This part of his life is a How-To story on overcoming depression. but that’s another post entirely.
Elijah’s ministry is found over 3 chapters in I Kings. Just to refresh your memory Elijah is the prophet of God that battled it out on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal (chapter 18). He is also the prophet who raised the widow woman’s son from the dead and whose jar of oil stayed full (chapter 17). After these great mountaintop experiences he caught the rage of Jezebel who sought him out to kill him (chapter 19). Elijah allowed fear to overtake him so much that he ended up in the wilderness having lost his JOY.
Have you ever felt so defeated that you feel like you have lost your joy? I know I have. Unfortunately I’ve been there more than one, more than twice, more than three times…you get the idea. How does that even happen? So there is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is you can lose your joy. The good news is you can find it again.
There are five ways we can lose our JOY. I’m going to use Beth’s words for each one because nobody can put things quite like she can. We can lose our joy:
1. When our outpour exceeds our intake. I think all of us moms are familiar with this concept. It doesn’t take long till a person can crash after giving and giving and giving some more. The same goes for one’s spiritual life. Spiritual burnout leads to a depleted supply of JOY.
2. When our talk exceeds our walk. This is closely related to the first one. And I dare say this is recognizable by the individual before it is anyone else. It usually manifests itself by the lack of passion in our voice when we are trying to minister to someone else.
3. When we become “wonder junkies”. It’s easy to be joyful when good things are happening all around us and TO us. But what happens when life returns to the mundane? One example is how we feel after attending a Christian conference of some kind. We get our cups filled and return home to normal life again. We continue riding the high for a little while. But have you noticed after the spiritual high we suddenly start experiencing temptations, spiritual attacks or other life challenges? What happened? Satan is what happened. We know how to ride the high but when Satan sneaks in we notice our joy meter is dropping. John 10:10 tells us that Satan’s job is to steal, kill and destroy. We need to hang on to the JOY high. We need to understand that the mundane moments of life are normal. Not every day can be an exciting mountaintop day. Stay aware. Guard your heart. Guard your JOY.
4. When we are exhausted. When we are physically weak depression is not far behind. This was part of Elijah’s problem in I Kings 19. We can’t neglect ourselves long before it takes a toll on all areas of life. Those of us w/chronic pain understand that all too well.
5. When we feel alone. I understand this all too well. When we start believing Satan’s lies that we are alone in what we are dealing with we turn inward. Before long we have convinced ourselves we are alone and our JOY is gone.
Now for that good news! Our JOY is right where we left it – in his presence. Return to the cross. God is the source of JOY and he’s been there all along.
Next week’s fruit of the Spirit we are discussing is Peace. Who needs some peace in their life? What happens when there is a lack of peace in the life of a person? Here’s a hint: it’s not pretty.