Over and over again, in Scripture, we see spiritual giants falling to very low places. King David, surrounded by the faithfulness and blessing of God, on a whim commits adultery then murders the husband of his lover. We must never fall under the impression that spiritual maturity makes any of us immune to the temptations, even the deepest temptations of this world.
We see Elijah struggling with suicidal thoughts immediately following a great victory after God rains down fire from heaven at Elijah’s request to reveal Himself as the one, true God. Elijah had confronted the King of Israel Ahab and his wife Jezebel who had brought foreign gods into the temple of the Lord. They didn’t listen. It culminated with a showdown between Elijah, the priest of God, and Jezebel’s prophets. Each built an altar and offered a sacrifice to their respective gods. Then each of them prayed to their god to rain fire from Heaven to devour the sacrifice. Jezebel’s prayers fell on dead ears, but Elijah’s prayer was heard and the fire came down.
Right after that, we read his suicide prayer:
1 Kings 19:3-4
Elijah was afraid, so he got up and fled for his life to Beer Sheba in Judah. He left his servant there, while he went a dayʼs journey into the desert. He went and sat down under a shrub and asked the LORD to take his life: “Iʼve had enough! Now, O LORD, take my life. After all, Iʼm no better than my ancestors.”
The Christian pursuit of perfection can never be mistaken for actual perfection. Our calling is a persistent fight against our own nature. It’s no walk in the park. We are called to be the opposite of who we are naturally and it is a process that never ends. The battle will endure forever on this side of Heaven. Our sinful nature never goes away. Our spiritual battle is to keep it tamed and under the supremacy of the Holy Spirit residing in us.
Both the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature are fully present all the days of our life. We strive to walk in the Spirit, but every step in life offers a choice. We don’t move into the Spirit of God never again to be tempted. The Bible says Jesus was tempted in every way and so we will be tempted too.
The presence of the sinful nature operates within us naturally, without effort. Our first response, without the influence of the Holy Spirit, is to do what is selfish, to seek personal pleasure, or at least to escape the pain. This is what we do when we take our eyes off of the Lord even if only for a second.
Because the sinful nature is not eradicated until we arrive in Heaven, we will experience the emotions that work to separate us from the love and mercy of God. We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God, but the enemy works with our natural emotions to create blinders making it hard for us to see the love of God. And this can happen at any moment. And it does not mean you are not saved. It doesn’t mean that you are losing your salvation. It doesn’t mean that you are going to Hell. It doesn’t mean that you really don’t have faith. It means you are under attack. This is the Christian experience. We will always be under attack.
Elijah was under attack and the blinders went up. He lost sight of the Lord. He did not turn away from God. He didn’t take his own life out of obedience to the Lord, but it was a suicide prayer. “Lord, I know it is wrong for me to take my own life, but you do it Lord,” was his prayer. Even in the worst despair and depression, he continues to talk to God.
I will cover this later, but for now, let me give you a preview to God’s response. The Lord sent an angel to help Elijah sleep, eat, and rest, then brought Elijah into His presence.
If you are struggling with depression, despair, suicidal thoughts and you are wondering how a Christian could think such thoughts, stop worrying. You are not alone. Many have struggled with this. But God’s response is to give you rest, nourishment in your spirit, and bring you to Himself.
Please check your email or my blog (www.pastorlee.net) each day. For a few days, I am going to walk us through this subject of Christians and suicidal despair. In the meantime, allow the Lord to come and give you rest.