We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.
–2 Corinthians 1:8
As you search the Scriptures, you discover that some of God’s choicest servants have had to endure bouts with depression and discouragement. For example, Moses and Jonah were great men of God, but there came a point in their lives that they said, “Lord, please take my life.” They were that discouraged. Even the apostle Paul, the pantheon of courage, in 2 Corinthians 1:8 said he despaired even of his own life. James said that Elijah, a prophet in the Old Testament, “was a man with a nature like ours” (5:17). Elijah had difficulties in his life, like his season of depression recorded in 1 Kings 19. It was what I call a bad day. One of the keys for having a significant life is to learn how to handle bad days when they come.
In 1 Kings 18, we find Elijah on the mountaintop of success on Mount Carmel. He had just experienced two dramatic answers to his prayers. But in chapter 19, we find Elijah falling into the valley of despair. In chapter 18, Elijah was full of faith, then in chapter 19, he was full of fear. Elijah bravely confronted 850 false prophets, then he cowardly fled from one woman’s threats. Elijah prayed for God to glorify Himself, then he prayed for God to take his own life. Elijah became the leader of the people, then he abandoned the people.
One of the many evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the way it deals with its heroes. Instead of presenting spiritual heroes as flawless men and women, with no weaknesses whatsoever, the Bible presents the heroes of the faith as they really were–warts and all. And that is true of Elijah. By looking at how Elijah dealt with discouragement and depression, we can learn some important lessons about how to handle bad days.
What do bad days look like? When I talk about this concept of a bad day, I am not talking about when you misplace your car keys or you have a flat tire–those experiences are inconvenient and annoying, but their effects quickly dissipate. When I am talking about a bad day, I’m talking about a time in your life that begins with some unwelcome news followed by painful consequences that can cause discouragement and even deep depression. Sometimes those bad seasons of life are the result of our wrong choices. Sometimes we make bad moral choices, and sometimes we make wrong choices in our finances or in our vocation, but these bad seasons in life are a result of our making. Other times, the bad seasons we go through have nothing to do with us–they are simply the result of living in a sin-infected world. Some of you have lost loved ones. That is not your fault; that’s part of living in a sin-infected world. Maybe you have lost your job, maybe your health is broken down, or maybe a friend or a mate has abandoned you. It is not always your fault, but the consequences are still painful, aren’t they? Regardless of whether the bad seasons we experience are the result of our own choices or living in a sin-infected world, the key is learning how to handle those bad days and those bad seasons.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Secret #6: Learn How to Handle Bad Days” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.