Horror, Stress, Depression, and Resting in the Lord
A Sermon Delivered at the
Compassion Internet Church
4 May 2008
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Kings 18:37-40
Ever since human beings broke the bonds of trust they had with God in the Garden of Eden, and disobeyed the Lord, the earth has become filled with horror, pain, and suffering for both humans and non-humans.
However, no matter how horrible the situations in the world become, the Lord God always seems to call upon certain individuals to go forth and speak the message of the Lord, and to be an example, in the hope of leading the people back to a Godly way of living.
God wants to restore the covenant relationship He had with us in the Garden of Eden; and since humans broke the covenant, it appears from the Bible that humans are the ones who must restore it.
God even sent Jesus Christ as a human man to restore His relationship with us, but most people rejected Him, too, and nailed Him to a cross.
And billions upon billions of humans and other animals have continued to suffer ever since.
Even the vast majority of the people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ have failed to live as the loving, compassionate, peacemaking children of God He called us to be.
They, too, would rather live in the ways of the world and inflict more pain and suffering, and pretend they know nothing about it.
There isnít a human being in the world who hasnít seen that animals feel the same pain and fear that we do, and that they want to live, just as much as we do; yet they continue to turn a blind eye and chow down on the flesh and body secretions of tortured animals.
And for those compassionate, empathetic children of God, who are trying to restore Godís peace and justice with the whole of Godís creation, this continued horror is very stressful and depressing.
These children of God are not alone, for 2,900 years ago one of the mightiest prophets of God, Elijah, suffered the same way; and just as God cared for him, He cares for us and will comfort us, so that we can continue our work to speak for those who canít, and restore peace on earth for all humans and other animals.
Letís look at Elijahís success over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:27-40):
37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, O LORD, art God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again."
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God."
40 Then Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape." So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
Elijah had won!
The people returned to God, and no longer believed the prophets of Baal.
We believe that in His zealousness, Elijah also went too far.
Unlike Elijah, we would not have resorted to killing the enemies of God; we would have left them in the hands of God, because violence of any kind only leads to more violence, as Elijah finds out, and this may have contributed to Elijahís depression.
We do not have to harm the people or the property of those who create the horror in this world; we can have even greater success by remaining true peacemakers.
Letís take a look at what happens after these events (1 Kings 19:1-15):
1 Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.
Elijah had just defeated the 450 prophets of Baal, and he was euphoric, thinking that now King Ahab and Queen Jezebel would also change and return to the Lord with all their heart and soul Ė but that didnít happen.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time."
3 And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
Elijah had just stood up alone against the 450 prophets of Baal, and soundly defeated them, yet one evil woman filled him with fear.
How could that happen?
It happened because the things that Elijah expected to happen didnít happen, and he became depressed; and in his depression, he feared the queen.
He had resorted to violence, and because of this, he feared the same thing would happen to him at the hands of the queen.
Elijah had expected God's miraculous change in the people, just as He had helped him upon the mountain, to continue; but he had failed to recognize that God had also given the people a free will, and He wasnít destroying that because the people needed to return to the Lord of their own free will.
We often feel the same way that Elijah did, and many of the people we minister to also feel the same way. Thatís why we need to recognize that itís not our fault that so many people remain hard of heart.
Letís take a further look at what happened with Elijah:
4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers."
5 And he lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, "Arise, eat."
6 Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again.
7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, "Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you."
God knows how we feel, and He wants to comfort us in the same way He comforted Elijah.
8 So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
9 Then he came there to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
10 And he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
Like Elijah, we wonder if our efforts to end the horrible pain and suffering inflicted upon millions of people and billions of animals every year are worth it.
We want to go home and crawl into bed, or hide in our own quiet place, and shut out the horror of the world.
And like Elijah, we fail to recognize that everything would get worse if we stopped being the loving, compassionate, peacemaking children of God.
11 So He said, "Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.
13 And it came about when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
14 Then he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
15 And the LORD said to him, "Go, return on your wayÖ
We have such a loving God: He comforts us, He encourages us, He speaks to us softly and gently, and sends us forth to continue our efforts.
And when we continue our efforts to make this a more loving and gentle world, we find that there are others doing the same things we are, and struggling in the same way we are.
And together we find that we comfort and encourage one another, and in the process more and more people learn the truth, or, have their lies exposed.
Our mutual ministry isnít a one hour gathering once a week; itís a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week mission to free every human and other animal from the pain and suffering being inflicted upon them.
We need to continue until all are free of pain and suffering, or until the Lord returns, because the innocent ones of this world need us, and the Lord is here to comfort us along the way.
We mustnít give up!
We must continue!
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