Elijah: Despondency and Depression
November 2nd, 1980 @ 7:30 PM
ELIJAH: DESPONDENCY AND DEPRESSION
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Kings 19:1-4
11-2-80 7:30 p.m.
We welcome the multitudes of you who are listening to this service on KCBI, the Sonshine Station of our Bible Institute, and on KRLD, the tremendous radio station of the Southwest. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, delivering one in a long series of messages on the problems of human life. At the morning hour we are following a long series of messages on the “Great Doctrines of the Bible,” and in the evening, on the problems that we face as human beings. And the title of the sermon next Sunday night is a rip-roaring hum-dinger. It is entitled Ahab: Forty Years With the Wrong Woman. It ought to be interesting, and there may be some of you that can add personal testimony to its truth; next Sunday evening at 7:00 o’clock.
This Sunday evening the title of the message is Elijah: Despondency And Depression. And I confess to you, as I have on most of these, that my studying has been a revelation to me, been an amazing development, as I have prepared the message for tonight. Now we are all going to read together I Kings 19:1-4. First Kings in the Old Testament, beginning in verse 1 and reading through verse 4. Do we all have it? We are all going to read it out loud together. Share you Bible with your neighbor if he does not have one. And on the radio you who listen, if you do not have your Bible, get one, and read it out loud with us, 1 Kings 19:1-4. Now let us all read out loud together:
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.
And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
And 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 away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
[1 Kings 19:1-4]
Who told him he was any better? “Let me die; I am no better than my fathers” [1 Kings 19:4].
This is an amazing come-to-pass in the life of one of God’s greatest servants. It is Elijah that shall precede the coming of our Lord [Malachi 4:5]. It was in the spirit of Elijah that John the Baptist prepared the way for His first appearance [Matthew 11:14]. And it is this Elijah who is sitting under a juniper tree, praying that he might die [1 Kings 19:4]. So, the subject of depression, disappointment; it is an universal malady.
There is nobody who is not subject to it, nor is there anyone who has not experienced it. That’s what the psychological studies all avow. This is one common denominator in which all of us share. We all know what it is to be depressed. It’s some kind of a black hole into which the whole world of life and living is sucked. And we come to the place in our days when our very breath seems fetid and sour, when our nest is foul, when we depart from joy, when we flee from anything that might be encouraging, when we take a delight in being down. We don’t want to see anybody. We are miserable with ourselves and with the whole sorry situation in which we have found our lot and life as cast.
I have been trying to think of the melody of a song that I heard when I was a boy, but for the life of me I can’t get the tune back. But I remember the song. The lyric was this,
Nobody loves me, everybody hates me,
And I’m going to eat some worms…
Great big slimy ones,
Little bitty tiny ones,
And oh, oh, how they squirm.
[traditional, sung to the tune of “Polly Wolly Doodle”]
All of us have felt that in our lives.
Another thing that I learn from reading these psychological studies, the man who is a counselor must be very aware of, and guard against his sympathy with the patient that he’s trying to help, who is depressed, lest he himself also fall in the same abyss. The psychological counselors say that when you talk to somebody who is depressed and you’re seeking to raise them out of their gloom, that if you are not careful, you will find yourself falling into the same deep darkness.
Well, that reminded me of one of the oldest stories I’ve ever heard in my life. A fellow was on a bridge about to jump off and commit suicide. And along came a cop and saw him up there about to jump. So the cop got off of his motorcycle and began to talk to the man to see if he couldn’t persuade him out of his suicidal tendencies. And he said to the man, “Now, now, don’t jump. Let’s talk about this thing. And let’s you and I converse. And let’s see if we can’t settle this.” So after their long and intimate conversation, both of them jumped off of the bridge. Depression, if the psychologist is correct, it’s universal for all of us who breathe. And if the psychologist is correct, it is something that all of us have experienced. It is one common denominator of human life.
All right, another thing that if I can follow these psychologists, these psychological studies about depression, another thing that was astonishing to me. It is the religiously minded and the intellectually sensitive, intelligent people who are the most susceptible to it. The more clod-like you are, the less you are susceptible. If you want to escape the malady, just don’t have any sense. Just be like an idiot or a moron and you won’t be bothered at all, but if you are intelligent, and the more intelligent you are, and if you are religious, and the more committed to the values of religion, the more likely you are to fall into depression.
Now when I read that and came across that, I thought these psychologists have lost their marbles, that’s the reason they are in psychology. They’ve got screws loose in their own heads; therefore, that’s why they’re interested in it. I thought, now that’s just one of the most unusual observations you could ever read. The more religious we are, the more prone we are to fall into depression. And the more intelligent we are, the more likely we are to be seized by the malady.
So I just read on and they belabored the point, and they said, “Now, look at this.” So I looked at this: in Job, chapter 3, “After this Job opened his mouth, and cursed his day” [Job 3:1]. Isn’t that, isn’t that, isn’t that something? And Job spake, and said, “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it” [Job 3:2-4]. And he goes on there, “Let them curse it that curse the day” [Job 3:8]. It goes on and on and on and on.
I remember a little boy going to his mama and saying, “Why doesn’t little baby brother talk?” And the mother said, “Well, little babies don’t talk.” And the boy replied, “Well, mama, I don’t understand that, because in Sunday school they said this morning, Job cursed the day he was born.”
Well, that’s what it says in the Book. “Job opened his mouth and cursed the day he was born” [Job 3:1-3]. Then he goes on the whole chapter, “Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?” [Job 3:20-22].
They want to die and are glad when they do. “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come upon me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came” [Job 3:25-26]. And he just goes on and on like that. Now that was one of the passages that the psychologists took out of the Bible, talking about the depression that religious people fall into.
Now as though that were not enough, why, they started taking out of the life of David and out of the Psalms. So let’s listen to some of the things that are in the Psalms. Psalm 42:5, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?. . . O my God, my soul is cast down within me” [Psalm 42:5-6]. And then it closes. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?” [Psalm 42:11].
Now look at Psalm 69, a psalm of David:
Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail when I wait for my God.
Then he continues, verse 14, “Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me” [Psalm 69:14-15]. And look at verse 20, “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” [Psalm 69:20].
Now here is something that I discovered. I never did know what this was before. Psalm 91:6, it speaks of “the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” I read in one of those books written about 400 AD, that refers to depression; “the destruction that wasteth at noonday” [Psalm 91:6]. And then in Psalm 130:1, “Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications” [Psalm 130:1-2]. And as Isaiah 59:11 says, “We mourn sore like doves”; and on and on it goes.
Then, not only out of the Book, out of the Bible, were the psychologist laying before us the deep depression into which God’s children fall, but he began to illustrate it out of the history of great Christian people. And then I added to it some of the things that I had found in my reading and was most sensitive to. All through the centuries and the centuries, our tremendous religious leaders have been men who knew what it was to fall into the very pit and quagmire of depression, discouragement. In the 400s there was a great Latin father by the name of Joannus Cossianus. And he wrote a long, long study on depression. In the Renaissance, the most famous and the most circulated, the most popular, the best seller of all of the books that came out that were written in the Renaissance, was Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, which is a big, vast tome.
All of the people who are at all acquainted with Martin Luther, are also aware of the fact that Martin Luther battled against an awesome depression all of the days of his life. And when he had his renewal of faith, that did not deliver him out of it; and when he nailed his Ninety-five Thesis against the wall of the church at Wittenberg, that didn’t deliver him out of it; and when he translated the Bible into German, that didn’t deliver him out of it; and when he finally married Katherine von Bora, that didn’t deliver him out of it. Luther fought depression all the days of his life.
There is not a youngster who has read Pilgrim’s Progress but knows that the first thing that Pilgrim did when he left the City of Destruction and turned his face toward the city of God, he fell into the Slough of Despond. And you have a long discussion in Pilgrim’s Progress about the quagmire and the pit and the mud and the dirt and the filth of the Slough of Despond. And Help comes and gets him out of it. And they talk to one another, and he wants to know why doesn’t the queen and the king fill this thing up? And Help replies, “It can’t be filled up. And it can’t be mended. And it’s in everybody’s way. They all wallow in the dirt and the mire and the quagmire of the Slough of Despond.” That’s what you read in Pilgrim’s Progress.
In my own reading, and as you know I read a great deal of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, whom I think is the greatest preacher outside of the New Testament. To my amazement, time without number, does Charles Haddon Spurgeon begin his sermons with a testimony of the deep, deep, deep depression in which he has been the days of the previous week. And out of that he will speak his words asking for the prayers of the people. This is God’s greatest preacher.
All right, another thing I learn said about depression and despondency; it has been a subject of medical study from the beginning of medical science. There are no eras in medical technology and research into which they have not probed concerning this subject of depression. Hippocrates is called the father of medicine. He was a Greek physician. He lived about 460 BC, 460 years before Christ. And in studying that phenomenon, he called it “melancholia.” That’s a Greek word: melas is the Greek word for “black,” cholē is the Greek word for gall or bile. So he called it “the black bile, melancholia.” We’ve taken the exact Greek word and spelled it out in English, melancholia, melancholy.
In the great and tremendous writings of Plutarch, he has a long passage here. And I wanted to read it. And I’m running out of time already. I haven’t even got to the start of my introduction yet. He has a long, long passage here. Plutarch was born about 46 AD and was a famous classical Greek biographer. He has a long discussion here concerning melancholia, concerning depression and despondency. And as you know, these modern psychoanalytical physicians, like Freud, they go on and on and on about it. He’s written a book on it, titled Mourning and Depression.
Well, there must be something that God would have us know about such a malady. And the first avowal that we would learn is that that, this malady of despondency and depression, that is one of the sharpest instruments in the arsenal of Satan, by which he attacks and renders useless the Christian disciple and soldier of the Lord. You are no good to yourself and you are no account to God or anything else when you are in the Slough of Despond, when you are depressed.
So we are going to look at what God has to say about it. First of all, why do we fall into depressions? Well, let’s look at Elijah. In the last verse of chapter 18, “And Elijah girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel” [1 Kings 18:46]. He outran those horses for a good twenty miles. Now that’s the first reason we fall into despondency and despair. He’s not the only one who is racing in front of Ahab’s chariot, “keeping up with the Joneses,” trying to run ahead of all that are around us and about us. And it wears us out.
No matter how much money you have, there will be somebody who’s got more. No matter how pretty you think you are, there is somebody that will be prettier. And no matter how successful you are, there is somebody that is going to be more successful. And no matter how beautiful clothes you have, there is somebody going to have prettier clothes. And no matter how fine a house you live in, somebody’s going have a finer house. And no matter how elegant a car you drive, somebody is going to come by with one more elegant. And when you run in front of the chariot of Ahab, you gonna wear yourself out. All right, that’s one reason. That’s one reason.
All right, a second reason: and the prophet said to the Lord God, “I, even I only, am left” [1 Kings 19:10]. When you, and he repeats it again in verse 14, “and I, even I only, am left” [1 Kings 19:14], and he emphasizes that; when you got your eye on yourself, you are going to be depressed, you just are. There is so much about us inevitably, uncontrollably, inexorably, there is so much about us personally that is not fine and noble and good, but it rather is chained down to baser thoughts and convictions and persuasions and desires and jealousies and a thousand other things. When you’ve got your eye on yourself, you are going to be depressed. And the more you center your life in yourself, the more you’re going to find yourself despondent. That’s number two.
All right, number three: “and he came unto a cave, and lodged there” [1 Kings 19:9]. When you withdraw, “I’m gonna quit, I’m done. I’m filled up.” And he dwelt in a cave and stayed in it. You are headed for depression.
Number four: “Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, Let the gods do to me more if I do not by this time [tomorrow] make your life like one of those prophets of Baal whom you have slain. And when he heard that, he arose, and went for his life” [1 Kings 19:2-3]. Things don’t always turn out as you think they are going to turn out. There are inevitable providences and exigencies in life that you can’t control that are going to overwhelm you. That’s life.
I remember going to—in my little country church, I remember going into the home of one of my finest deacons. And I have never sensed such gloom and despondency and despair as I felt in that home. And this is what had happened. He had a magnificent wheat field. And they were going to buy a new car, and she was going to buy a new dress, and they were going to get a new piece of furniture, and oh, I don’t know what all. It was a beautiful, beautiful harvest in prospect of a vast wheat field. And when the grain was ripe and ready to be combined, harvested, a heavy hailstorm came and beat every stalk of that wheat into the ground. And that godly deacon sat on the side of the hill, looking over that great wheat field, all of which was lost, and cried like a little child.
You cannot escape those providences. You may be the king or the queen or the most capable or gifted of all of the people that walk on the face of the earth, but there comes a time when disappointment and grief and despondency and despair will overwhelm you. Could you imagine a more triumphant scene than Elijah shared the day before on Mount Carmel? And the fire of God fell down [1 Kings 18:22-40]. And in answer to prayer, after three and a half years, God sent a rain [1 Kings 18:41-45]. Can you imagine the height and the pinnacle of triumph that that prophet felt when he was on top of Mount Carmel? And today, look at him. When he heard that, he went for his life. Sat under a juniper tree and prayed to God that he might die, “for I am not better than my fathers” [1 Kings 19:2-4].
Well, what is God’s answer to these depressions into which we fall? He gives them here. Number one, now you are going to be astonished at these things, they are so common and so ordinary. But we need to see them in God’s Word. What is God’s answer to our depression, to our despondency and to our grief and disappointment and these inevitable providences into which we find our lives fallen?
Now how does God help us out of it? Number one: and as he sat there under that juniper tree, he went to sleep [1 Kings 19:5-6]. And an angel touched him and said unto him, “Arise and eat.” And there was a cake baked on the coals and a cruse of water. And he did eat and drink and went back to sleep [1 Kings 19:5-6]. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is great” [1 Kings 19:7]. What is the first thing that God says to us and does for us when He gets us out of the Slough of Despond and out of our depression? The first thing is, take care of the temple of God in which the Holy Spirit is housed [1 Corinthians 6:19]. Eat and rest and be in strength and in health. If you don’t, “You are going to find yourself unequal,” God says, “to the journey that lies before you” [1 Kings 19:7].
When you are down, you’re no good to nobody. You need to be up. And to be up, we live in a house of clay. And God says it needs to be taken care of. Get some good sleep, rest, and eat right. Man, if that’s not the hardest assignment I know of. I don’t know anything better than peanuts and popcorn and chewing gum and candy and potato chips and those Frito things. Man, that’s living. But if you want to fall into the sorriest kind of health you ever saw in your life, you just live on that junk, you just live on that stuff. “You rest,” God says. “And you eat,” God says.
Isn’t that strange how the Lord is? He is just down here among us. That’s the first thing. The angel touched him and said, “Eat and then go back to sleep. And then eat and go back to sleep, for the journey’s great” [1 Kings 19:5-7]. So the first thing to help us to overcome our despondency is to take care of our physical frames. Let’s be strong and in health. Let’s eat right and sleep right. And it’ll be the first thing that God does for us to help us be strong again.
All right, the second thing: and the Lord said to him, “You go out there and stand “” [1 Kings 19:11]. And the Lord passed by, and a great wind rent the mountains . . . and the Lord was not in the wind . . . and there was a great earthquake that shook the rocks; And the Lord was not in the earthquake: Then there was a great fire; and the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still, small voice” [1 Kings 19:11-12].
Now what God was doing there was, he was laying before Elijah exactly Elijah’s feelings and emotions. All of that was just like Elijah felt. That wind roaring through the mountains, that’s the way he felt! And that earthquake that broke up the rocks, that’s the way he felt! And the fire that lit up the very sky, that’s the way he felt! And the Lord God wasn’t in the fire, and He wasn’t in the earthquake, and He wasn’t in the wind. Those were the feelings of doubt and depression, into which Elijah had fallen. And when the Lord had cleared out the whole earth and his mind, there was a still, small voice, and God was in the voice [1 Kings 19:12].
All right, that’s the second thing about overcoming depression. You won’t find an ultimate answer in the whirlwinds of life, you just won’t. You’ll find it in that quiet moment when you talk to God and God talks to you and you listen. What is it Lord? What did You say? That’s the second thing.
All right, the third thing, what God did to Elijah: and the Lord said unto him, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” [1 Kings 19:9]. And he repeated that again in verse 13. A voice came unto him, that still, small voice, and said, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” [1 Kings 19:13]. All right, the third thing: life is made for doing, not for a-sittin’ and a-groanin’ and a-gripin’ and a-criticizin’ and a-findin’ fault and a-doin’ nothing. Life is for doing. “What doest thou here, Elijah?” And God repeated, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Life is for doing. It’s for working. It’s for accomplishing. It’s for glorifying God. It’s for doing His work in the earth, that’s what life is for.
And when we’re over here in a backwater somewhere, we’re not going to be triumphant and happy and gloriously blessed of God in the light of His presence and in the countenance of His face. We got to be out doing something for God if we are going to get out of ourselves and into the victory of the Lord. Man, have I been preaching to myself about that, preparing this sermon and coming to that “What doest thou, Elijah?” [1 Kings 19:9, 13]. I don’t need to tell you, or maybe you don’t know it. I have been so down, I’ve been so down this last week, I finally got sick. Just stayed, had to stay in bed, so I could get up to preach on this Lord’s Day; just down, just down. “Why, why are you so down, pastor, why?”
Well, the reason why is this. Everywhere I turn, it seems an inevitability that we are going to be forced to sell that Spurgeon-Harris building over there. And the thought of it, and the prospect of it, just crushes me, just sends me down and down to the depths. And I can’t raise myself out of it. Well, that’s the worst thing in the world. That’s the sorriest thing that I could ever do. That is the poorest paragon and example that I could ever present to my people: down, discouraged, given up, an inevitability.
One of the men talked to me last week. And he said, “Why, that is a false premise upon which you are standing. And that’s a sorry persuasion in which you have allowed Satan to talk to you. We don’t have to sell that building.” And he’s already raised something like a quarter of a million dollars. And he says, “I’m going to raise a million dollars myself. I’m going to do it myself.” And he’s going to men whom he knows in the city, and asking people to help us in order that we pay this debt down, where we don’t have to sell that Spurgeon-Harris building. And when I look at that fellow and when I see his spirit, I think about myself. Why sit down and weep and lament and cry, and be discouraged and despondent and blue because of a self-persuaded inevitability that’s not inevitable at all? Let’s do something. Let’s get at it. Let’s pay that debt. Let’s do it!
“What are you doing here, Elijah? What are you doing here?” [1 Kings 19:9, 13]. I think of the Lord God as He spoke to Moses at the Red Sea. The army of Pharaoh was back of him, and the desert to the right of him, and mountains to the left of him, and the sea in front of him, and Moses crying to God, “Lord, Lord!” And do you remember in the fourteenth chapter of Exodus, about the fourteenth or thirteenth verse? The Lord God said to Moses, “Why criest thou unto Me? Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward” [Exodus 14:15]. My soul and my life, dear God, go forward? There’s a sea in front of us, we could drown! God said, “Why cry unto Me?” Move! Do! Get going!” And when they put their feet down in the water, the Red Sea parted and the waters piled up on either side. And all Israel passed through in triumph and in victory [Exodus 14:21-22]. That’s the way to get out of a depression. Get busy, get with it, move, and see what God does!
So the Lord gave him an assignment. Instead of a-sittin’ here and a-sittin’ and asking God to take your life, “Get up!” And God gave him an assignment to do. “You get going, and when you come to Damascus, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria [1 Kings 19:15]. And then when you come to Samaria, anoint Jehu to be king over Israel [1 Kings 19:16]. And when you come to the central part of Ephraim, anoint Elisha to be prophet in thy room [1 Kings 19:16]. There’s work to be done, and Elijah, get up and get started.” Brother, that would cure any man in his depression. Start out. Move.
Now, a last, how to overcome a depression: and the Lord put a little postscript, and what a postscript! Elijah, you say, “I, I only am left [1 Kings 19:10]. Now, O Lord, take away my life: for I am not better than my fathers” [1 Kings 19:4]. That’s what you say, Elijah. And that’s what you think, Elijah. Now, the little postscript, “I have left Me seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed the knees to Baal, every mouth which hath not kissed him” [1 Kings 19:18]. You are not by yourself, you do not realize it. There are hosts of angels around you, the mountains are filled with chariots of fire [2 Kings 6:17]. You are not by yourself. And down here in this earth, there are seven thousand in Israel, who have not bowed the knee to Baal [1 Kings 19:18].
Now I must close. There is not anything that I have been more amazed at and surprised at, than just that; in the most unusual places, God’s servants, working, living, magnifying the name of the Lord. I was in Jerusalem in a hotel. And there was a Jewish woman, very Jewish, had a display of paintings by some of the finest artists in Israel. And I bought one of those paintings and treasure it. And as I talked to her she was a distinguished woman, a cultured woman. She was a close intimate friend of Moshe Dayan who was at that time the foreign minister of the Israeli government. And as I talked to her, she found out that I was a Baptist preacher. And she said to me, “I am a Baptist, and every Sunday I drive to Tel Aviv and teach a Sunday school class in the little Baptist church in Tel Aviv.” Would you have thought it? Would you have guessed it? A Christian and a beautiful one.
I was walking down the street of Kharkov, interior Russia, on a dark, dark night. Every communist city I have ever been in is dark at night, just enough bear light to show the outline of a building. I was walking down a dark street in Karkov. And a man got in step by my side. He was clothed in dark cloths with a heavy, heavy coat kind of a wrap. And as he walked by my side, to my surprise, he talked to me in English. And walking by my side he reached in that heavy cloak and pulled out a Bible. And he said, “No one but a few intimate friends know that I possess this holy and sacred Book. Who would have ever thought it?
Driving thought the heart of Africa, way in the interior, there were villages, villages, villages of mud huts and thatched huts, and suddenly the prettiest little cottage you ever saw, so beautifully groomed and painted and shined and clean and neat and nice. And the driver of the car stopped there. And a faith missionary and his wife came out to greet us. I could not believe my eyes, that little gem of a place and that faithful couple, in the heart of black Africa.
In the Amazon jungle, flying over that endless, endless, endless expanse of vast illimitable trees, trees, jungle. There below was a little space cut out with a machete knife. And he put that little plane down. A little boat there. And on the other side of that vast river there was a missionary with the tribal chief, learning the language, translating God’s Word into that native language, and winning the chief and all of his people to the Lord. Who would ever have thought it?
In Washington, D.C., at a meeting up there, while we were in that beautiful building, there came a great group of fine women. And I introduced myself to them and talked to them. Those women are the wives of our congressmen. And they have a prayer meeting in that beautiful building every week, godly women, Christian women, in our great capital city, the wives of congressmen, every week, in a beautiful prayer meeting. Who would have thought it?
In the Bowery, in New York City, seated there with the most extended group of flotsam and jetsam of humanity that I had ever seen before, there stood up in front, behind the pulpit, an elegant man, one of the financiers, with his office on Wall Street. And standing up there a laymen, talking to those men in the dearest, tenderest way that moved your soul. And after it was over, I introduced myself to him. And talked to him about who he was. And he replied, “My life, of course, is in the financial world on Wall Street, but my heart goes out to these men in the dregs and depths of a life that is ruined and destroyed. And,” he said, “I come regularly. And I speak to them about the Lord and what God is able to do.”
My brother, there is no spot in this earth where you won’t find one of God’s seven thousand. Don’t be discouraged. And don’t think God has not His elected purposes for us in the earth. He will not fail, nor be discouraged, till He hath sent peace in the earth. The kingdoms of this earth belong to our Lord. And it is He that shall reign forever and ever [Revelation 11:15]. We are not going to lose. Just turn to the last chapter of the Book and see who reigns in heaven and on earth and forever and ever [Revelation 22:3-5]. Hallelujah, amen!
And when I’m discouraged and down or blue or disappointed, lift up your face, look at Jesus, living, reigning, inviting, loving, caring, encouraging, speeding us in the way, rejoicing, serving Him [Hebrews 12:2]. And that’s our invitation to you. May we stand for the prayer?
Our wonderful, wonderful Lord, there is not anything about this that I don’t know personally, that I haven’t experienced. The sense of frustration and despair, just defeated and discouraged, but that Satan, that’s one of the weapons in his arsenal. And we are no good to ourselves, to Thee, or to others, when we are down. And our Lord, may the spirit of triumph lead us in a victorious way. May God open this sea for us that we might walk through. May God send us on the journey as He did Elijah with an assignment [1 Kings 19:15-16], and may the Lord be pleased in the effort we dedicate to Thee. And we pray for our dear church and its ministries, and we pray for our city and our witness in it, and we pray for all who share in this hour in listening. And may there be God’s comforting presence mediated to all of us, making us strong in the Lord and in the power of His might [Ephesians 6:10]. And tonight, dear Lord, give us souls, in Thy saving name.
And in a moment our choir will sing a hymn of appeal, and our men will be here, our deacons, our ministers, with a heart of welcome, loving you, praying for you, waiting for you. And while we sing this song and while we wait, in the balcony, on this lower floor, into the aisle, down one of those stairways, “Here I come pastor.” The whole family you, a couple or just you, one somebody you. And our Lord, thank Thee for the souls You will give us tonight, in Thy precious name, amen.
Now while we wait before God, and while our people pray, and while our choir sings, make that decision for the Lord [Romans 10:8-13] and come and be with us, a fellow pilgrim in the work and service of our wonderful Savior, while we sing, while we sing.