Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Discouraged? Part 1

By on January 8, 2011

Have you ever wrestled with discouragement? It is a rare individual indeed who has not battled discouragement at some point in life. God’s Word is filled with the accounts of honest, faithful people who, for one reason or another, have become discouraged. The very word itself speaks of disheartenment, lack of vitality, and loss of courage. But God’s Word not only records the experiences of those who have been discouraged, it promises a way out. You can gain victory over discouragement.

In this, and the following two blogs, I’d like to deal with this issue of discouragement or, to be more specific, how to defeat discouragement. In the very last blog, I want to show you a three-fold approach by which you can deal effectively with a this problem of discouragement that plagues so many people.

Discouragement can ambush the most unlikely people, and at the most unlikely times. Witness, for instance, Elijah’s discouragement within hours of his remarkable moment of victory on Mt. Carmel(I Kings 19). Earlier, Elijah had called down fire from heaven, witnessed the slaughter of 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, opened the windows of heaven by prayer, bringing an end to over three years of drought, and outrun Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel. But these remarkable feats were swallowed up in a sea of discouragement at the words of a messenger sent by Queen Jezebel. The Scripture records that Elijah “was afraid and arose and ran for his life” (19:3). In this and the following verses you will discover the eight characteristics of discouragement.

How can you detect discouragement in your life, or in the lives of others?

1. A growing sense of fearfulness. “And he was afraid” (v.3).

2. The desire to “run away.” He “…arose and ran for his life” (v.3).

3. Distancing yourself from your companions. Elijah “…came to Beersheba and left his servant there” (v.3).

4. The absence of joy. Elijah “…went a day’s journey in the wilderness, and came and sat under a juniper tree…and requested for himself that he might die” (v.4).

5. A lost sense of purpose. Elijah prayed “Take my life, for I am not better than my fathers” (v.4).

6. Chronic weariness. Elijah “…lay down and slept” (v.5).

7. Feeling misunderstood and unappreciated. “I have been zealous (but now) I alone am left” (v.10).

8. Questioning God. Elijah recounted his deeds and was perplexed that he was now alone and being hunted” (v.14).

Can you detect discouragement in your life? If so, help is on the way! You can read for yourself how God delivered Elijah from discouragement. In the next blog, we’ll see how discouragement takes seed and begins to grow in our hearts.

In the meantime…

Rejoice evermore!

Tom Elliff

2 Tim 1:12