I’M NOT UNDER A BROOM TREE
Elijah sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” 1 Kings 19:4 (NLT)
I’m not Elijah, I’m not under a broom tree, and I’m not praying God will take my life. But I am depressed. In 40+ years of ministry, I have not experienced anything like 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything we planned at Central.
Giving is down. We’re not hurting like many other churches, and we have cut expenses, but we are $184,694 below our budget need.
Onsite attendance has crashed. We didn’t worship onsite for 12 weekends. Many people are staying at home and worshipping online because of health concerns. I certainly understand and encourage you to worship online if you’re concerned about your health. But let’s be honest; some people are just out of the habit of worshipping onsite.
Some churches, like Central, are again meeting onsite. Other churches will not meet onsite until 2021. People I love are divided. Some Central folks won’t worship onsite unless everyone is wearing a mask. Some folks won’t worship onsite if they have to wear a mask. Some people are thrilled because we have brought back children’s ministry programs. Other people say we are putting kids and the community in jeopardy by kids meeting together. It seems no matter what we do, people are upset.
With God’s help, Elijah overcame his depression. God gave him a new revelation. God revealed Himself and His power to Elijah.
“Go out and stand before Me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. 1 Kings 19:11 (NLT)
As Elijah stood at the mouth of the cave, suddenly a great wind, probably a tornado, just tore apart the mountainside. But the Bible says, “God was not in the wind.” And then there was an earthquake. But God wasn’t in the earthquake. Then a huge fire burned up everything on the mountain. But the Bible says, “God wasn’t in the fire.” Then Elijah heard a whisper, a still small voice, and he knew that was God.
So many times, we want God to come and rescue us in some dramatic way. But so often He comes in just a whisper, in a relationship or an experience and we hardly notice He is there. Maybe a couple of years later, we look back and say, “That was God. I barely heard Him.”
After God’s whisper, Elijah started to take his eyes off his problems and focus on the awesomeness of God.
We wrongly think the way out of depression is to analyze ourselves, understand our past, focus on our needs. But, what we need is to get the focus off ourselves and turn our focus to the awesomeness of God. And our problems look so small in light of the power of our creator.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again— my Savior and my God! Psalm 43:5 (NLT)