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Q. Will God forgive me for losing hope and the will to live?


Dear Friend,

There are a number of Old Testament saints who “wished they were dead,” or that they had never been born (men like Job, and Jonah, for example). But I want you to think about this passage in 1 Kings 19, which describes how God dealt with Elijah, who also wished to die:

1 Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 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. 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 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 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.” 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 He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 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 After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 13 When Elijah heard it, 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 Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 The LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 “It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. 18 “Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him (1 Kings 19:1-19).

  • First, take note that Elijah wanted to die.
  • Second, notice that God graciously, personally, encountered Elijah in the midst of his despair.
  • Third, notice that God met his physical needs – food and sleep (earlier in chapter 19).
  • Fourth, Elijah, in his despair, did not see things correctly:

Elijah thought he was a failure, because a great national revival did not result from his confrontation with Ahab and Jezebel and their false prophets on Mount Carmel (see 1 Kings 17-18). He was wrong about several things:

He assumed that it took great acts of faith, and spectacular success for important things to happen. But God spoke to him through a still, small, voice, not a great earthquake, or wind, or fire (1 Kings 19:11-12).

He thought he was the only faithful one left, but he was wrong. There were 7,000 folks in Israel that had not bowed the knee to Baal (19:18).

He thought that God’s work depended on him, but he was wrong. God’s purposes for Israel will be dealt with, not by Elijah, but by Elisha, Hazael, and Jehu (19:15-16).

  • Fifth, because Elijah wrongly felt alone, God gave him a constant companion, for the rest of his life – Elisha. And God gave him work to do.

So, to sum it all up. God does forgive sins, but the solution to our troubles is never to take our own life, or even to wish that we would die.

It is most important to remember that it is Satan who is “the accuser of the brethren” and the great deceiver (see Zechariah chapter three, and Revelation 12:7-12). Satan wants us to see things wrongly.

To take one’s life, or to wish to do so, is a victory for Satan, and a failure for us, because God has assured us that He is working out all things for our good, and His glory (Romans 8:28), and that there is no temptation that comes our way that God has not provided the means to overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13).

One of the problems in Elijah’s life was that he was alone, and that he felt alone – until God brought Elisha into his life. You need the encouragement of God’s Word (Romans 5:1-11; 8:18-39; 15:4). You also need the encouragement of fellow believers, which means you should quickly associate yourself with a good church, and with the fellowship of fellow-saints, who will encourage you, as Elisha did with Elijah (Hebrews 10:19-25).

Most of all, you need the encouragement that our Lord Jesus gives:

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:14-18).

The right question to ask, then, is not, “If I sin will God forgive me” (which He will), but “Will my suffering draw me nearer to God (see Psalm 73), and bring glory to Him?”

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name (1 Peter 4:12-16).

I’m praying for you at this moment.

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Christian Life, Forgiveness

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