How to fight discouragement, overwhelm, and fatigue by reminding yourself of Elijah and Mount Sinai

Elijah was coming off a mountaintop experience.

God had shown up in miraculous fashion, sending fire from Heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice. God had won the showdown with King Ahab atop Mount Carmel and Baal had lost in spectacular fashion.

All was right in the world.

You see Elijah had his spectacular ministry moment. He brought a massive audience to one of the most famous mountain tops in Israel and shut the place down, I mean he dropped the mic when God answered his prayer.

I’m not saying that Elijah took credit, or that the fire from heaven was because he was somebody special because he wasn’t (James 5:17). The point I’m making is that Elijah just experienced one of the most impactful moments of ministry in the history of the world.

You might think your Summer VBS goes off well, but Elijah…his big event ended with FIRE FROM HEAVEN.

You might think your Summer VBS goes off well, but Elijah…his big event ended with FIRE FROM HEAVEN.

That is game. set. match.

Elijah wins.

But what happens next is utterly remarkable and instructive for all of us.

Elijah falls into depression.

He gets discouraged very quickly. All the success he realized on the mountaintop wasn’t taking hold in the real world. Revival wasn’t sweeping through the nation of Israel and Queen Jezebel was more peeved than she had ever been. In fact…she had a standing order for Elijah’s head to be removed from his body. She wasn’t a happy camper.

Doesn’t this sound a little too familiar?

Ok, not the head removal part…but the discouragement part…

You have a great VBS at church…I mean the whole stinkin’ week goes reaaalllllyyyyyy well. Or, you have a major kids event at your church where more kids show up than ever have before and the place is just rocking! Kids are loving what is happening and it feels like God is at work!!!!

Then the day after it dies down, you feel discouraged.

You remember that parent coming up to you during VBS and ‘reading you the riot act’ about their kid and how they didn’t like something. Or you have a great kids outreach event only to be followed by record low attendance for the next weeks…and months at church.

The list of un-successes could go on, right? We’ve all felt them.

And this is where we all get discouraged. We all want to quit. The ministry that we thought went so well, that went off almost without a hitch, is now in the rear view mirror and more discouragement is the only thing you see in front of you.

It is in these moments that we need to take heart and listen to the Word of God in the life of Elijah.

After Elijah’s mountaintop experience, he leaves town. He is incredibly disappointed and depressed. In fact, he prays to God that he might die.

All of the victories won just a short time ago seem irrelevant. After all, Elijah feels like he is one of the few, if not the only, believer left in all of Israel. (1 Kings 19:9-10)

What good has all of Elijah’s work been? It seems to all be in vain. Time to throw in the towel, and call it…..a life.

All of Elijah’s work seems to be in vain

It’s at this moment that God leads him on a 40-day journey to the mountain of God. (Mount Sinai). In a cave on the side of the mountain, Elijah experiences devastating fire and extreme wind, but God tells Elijah He is not in those. Instead, God says that He is in the still small voice that follows.

Many of you, have probably taught this lesson before, but I wonder if you’ve ever stopped to consider its application for your life, and your ministry. The impact it could have is tremendous.

Listen to this insight from David Guzik:

“Elijah perhaps thought that the dramatic display of power at Mount Carmel would turn the nation around. Or perhaps he thought that the radical display of God’s judgment against the priests of Baal following the vindication at Mount Carmel would change the hearts of the nation. Neither of these worked. This example is important for Christian ministers today, especially preachers. It shows that displays of power and preaching God’s anger don’t necessarily change hearts. Instead, the still small voice of God speaking to the human heart is actually more powerful than outward displays of power or displays of God’s judgment.”

Did you catch that?

God reminded Elijah that His power was displayed, and perhaps we could say “best displayed”, not in the dramatic over-the-top moments of ministry life, but in the quiet, perhaps seemingly insignificant moments that are so easy to overlook.

I think we are all accidentally programmed to see masses of people coming forward at some huge Christian event and think to ourselves how cool it would be to pull that off ourselves…to have THAT kind of impact.

But God reminds Elijah, and I think us, that looks are deceiving.

True ministry, the kind the has the greatest impact doesn’t happen in the spectacular moments, or on the biggest stages.

Ministry and life-change happen in the quiet, in the stillness, in the unseen and unremarkable.

So the next time you sense yourself getting discouraged and you feel your spirit sinking in despair, take heart and remind yourself of Elijah’s “other” mountain top experience.When God reminded Him that the most powerful work of God happens in the least spectacular of places.

Scroll to Top