In this message, we learn how to overcome being overwhelmed with disappointment.
Alright. Hello and welcome Valley Creek. It is so good to see you, guys. I want to take a moment in welcoming all of our campuses and those who are watching online. Thanks so much for being here. Can we welcome each other together? Okay. So today, we start a brand new series called “Overwhelmed” and for the next three weeks we’re going to talk about what to do and what it’s like when we sometimes feel overwhelmed. I don’t know if you had noticed but being overwhelmed is an epidemic in our society and sometimes in our hearts. We’re overwhelmed by news and by politics and by finances and by relationships and people and schedules and kids schedules and where are we going to go to eat, where are we going to go on vacation. We just feel overwhelmed and yet we don’t exactly know what to do about it. It reminds me of the time that I went into the Pacific Ocean and you know how the signs of the Pacific Ocean like on the beach, it’ll say enter at your own risk. Well, I went in to do some body boarding. And body boarding is like surfing for people who don’t have balance.
So these signs with enter at your own risk — there’s a flag on the side of that sign and it’s either red, red means you’re going to initially — you’re going to die when you go into the water. Orange means that it’s going to become tough. Green is when it’s really calm like the Caribbean. It was orange that day and so I went forward and I went body boarding and I got hit after wave after wave after wave. My feet actually would go over my head when I would get smashed by the wave. I didn’t know it could do that and then I’d come back up and another wave would hit me and another wave would hit me and I think that’s how so many of us feel in life. Here’s the thing, I could’ve sat on the beach. I could’ve sat on the sideline. I could’ve skipped that sign that said enter at your risk but life is about entering at our own risk and sometimes there’s going to be waves after waves after waves. But Jesus is not only inviting us into waves. He’s inviting us to walk on top of them.
Here’s what He say in John 16:33, “I’ve told you these things so that in me, you might have peace. In this world, you’re going to have to trouble. You’re going to be overwhelmed sometimes but take heart, I have overcome the world.” Here is what Jesus is saying. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by anything because He has overcome everything. Jesus lived this life of restful movement. He offers the same thing to us. It’s available to us. So this week we’re going to talk about what to do if you’re overwhelmed by discouragement. So if you are alive, if you are breathing, if you’re awake as I say this, you will either be discouraged at some point in the future or maybe you’re facing discouragement right now. That’s really one of two things that just being a human means that we will be discouraged at some point in the future. But take heart Jesus can overcome our feelings when we feel discouraged. So let’s talk about that. What is discouragement?
Well, discouragement is simply unmet expectations between what I thought was going to happen and then what actually happened like what reality was. Like discouragement in my marriage. I thought my marriage, you know, would look like this point and, you know, this far long and then this is what’s actually happening. Or, you know, if you’re a student, discouragement in my school semester like I thought it was going to be like and now it’s like this. And the gap in between those two things that is where discouragement lives. That is where discouragement breathes. It’s a little bit like the discouragement I felt during the great sewage Christmas flood of 2013. Here’s what happened. Ten people from all over the country came down to visit my wife and I here in the Dallas area and so from Ohio and Indiana from California, they flew in. We’re going to have this great Christmas together and up until December 26, it was so good. It met my expectations. On December 26, the day after Christmas, we had just gone to the movie called Frozen, you might have heard of it, took my daughters and her cousins there.
And on the way home from the movie, I get a frantic call from my wife, “Honey, you got to come home right away. There’s something happening in the bathroom. It’s flooding. I’m not sure what’s going on.” Okay. Oh boy, that’s not good. ” Okay honey, here’s what you do, just go back to the back side of the toilet and you turn that silver knob on the back side. So you turn that off so that none of the water can leak out and I’ll be home in just a second.” Okay, sounds good. Click. Now, little did I know that the discouragement that I was feeling in my heart would be so much more from my wife. Where in the next 30 seconds, she walked down the three steps into our master bathroom and bedroom and stepped into four inches of raw sewage. Now, just think about what was going through her mind when I told her to go to the back side of the toilet and turn off the clean water but it turns out it wasn’t that.
Here’s what happened. The street in front of our house had backed up from everybody’s holiday meals and all of that pressure was pushing into our master bathroom because we were the lowest toilet. Let me tell you, that was discouraging. There was a gap that was not met for what I thought my Christmas was going to be and what it ended up being — I thought to myself, “How does that even happen? Like how does this happen?” Do you ever feel like that in life? How did this even happen? Like how did I get here? I didn’t see this coming. Let me just ask you. Where do you go when you’re discouraged? Because Peter went back to his boat when he thought Jesus was dead. Noah went to the bottle after he spent 40 days in close proximity with his family and he saved the world. Elijah went to the cave after he had this huge victory. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Where do you go to find comfort when you’re discouraged? To the internet, to that relationship, to that thing you always do because you have to understand many times, we try to find quick comfort for deep pain. And inevitably when you’re trying to find a quick comfort for deep pain, it ends up worse than you were before. Jesus gives us a better way.
So what I want to do it I want to take a look at the story of Elijah, prophet in the Old Testament, we’re going to talk about Elijah’s most discouraging day, the most disappointing day that he ever had. So here’s what’s going on. Elijah has the worst day of his life after he had the best moment of his life. He actually had a mountain top experience. When we use the phrase a mountain top experience, it actually comes from this story. Elijah won on the mountain top. He beat the 450 prophets of Baal. The Lord God was honored. It was a huge victory. He is winning and then the bottom drops out. He starts to get chased by this lady named Jezebel. She’s the queen of the area. She’s mad that her prophets got killed in the showdown. She’s like, “I’m going to kill you.” He’s running away from a crazy lady. Some of you, oh, like that sounds like my ex-girlfriend maybe so. So what we’re going to do is talk about Elijah’s most discouraging day. Catch this. Often times after a mountain comes a valley and that’s okay. There are many times that people in the scriptures felt the same way and Elijah was one of them. 1 Kings 19:1-4, “Now, Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he killed all the prophets with a sword. So Jezebel sent a message to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like one of them.” Elijah was afraid. He ran for his life. When he to Beersheba and Judah, he left his servant there while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness.
He came to a broom bush. He sat down underneath of it. He prayed that he might die, “I have had enough, Lord.” He said, “Take my life. I’m no better than my ancestors.” Have you ever felt like that? I’ve had enough, Lord. I’m so done with this. That is exactly how I felt when I had four inches of my neighbor’s sewage in my master bedroom and bathroom that Christmas. So if you felt that way, you are in good company. I have five points on overcoming discouragement so stay with me. Five points. Here is the first one. Focus on your health. 1 Kings 19:5-6, “Then he lied down under a bush. He fell asleep and all at once the angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals and a jar of water. He ate. He drank then he lied down again. Elijah just sleep, just rest your body. Are you ready for the super spiritual advice? Sometimes you got to have a snack and take a nap. Have a snack and take a nap. It’s one of the most spiritual things we can do and here at Valley Creek we recognize that phrase. That’s one we’ve used a few different times and we always respond to it that always strikes our soul because it’s so true like sometimes you just need to rest and just be and just focus on your health. We forget how interdependent our mind and our bodies and our souls are. They’re all connected because we’re a holistic person. Listen to Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.” That is with all parts of you. You have to focus on your health because part of the reason that your mind is so discouraged is because your body is so depleted. It’s almost impossible to nourish your soul without nourishing your body. So our bodies are the temple of the living God.
It’s where He resides. So God takes — He takes root on our body. He lives inside of us and so that’s what we can offer our bodies as spiritual acts of worship. But here’s the problem for some us, God is residing in a Motel 6 instead of a Ritz-Carlton, you know what I’m saying? So you got to focus on your health. Do the things that actually will make you healthy personally. Think about the cycle of when you feel discouraged. Sometimes you say, “Okay, I feel discouraged. I just got to go like binge and Netflix show like I got to watch some Netflix.” And so you do that. You stay up until 1:00 AM. You get tired. The next day, you’re like that was dumb. Now, I’m more discouraged facing my day. Your schedule gets crazy. My schedule is crazy. I can’t make good food choice. I’m going out to eat. You do that. You eat fast-food. You feel bad and then you’re more discouraged afterwards. Those are the kind of vicious cycles that Jesus is helping us overcome. So focusing on your health is holistic mind, body and soul and that is how you worship God.
You worship Him with all of you, all parts of you. So for me, sometimes I have to go outside and just take a walk, get fresh air, get my heart rate going, just start to breathe in a little bit like get away from technology and stuff and schedule and just focus on my health. There it is, number one, just have a snack and take a nap. That’s one of the best things you do if you’re discouraged. Here’s the second thing, be aware of God’s presence, verse 11, “The Lord said, go up, stand on a mountain in the presence of the Lord for the Lord is about to pass by.” You know what happens next. God comes in big ways. He’s in the wind and the earthquake and the fire and it breaks up all the rocks and it’s like there’s huge show of force and then he comes to Elijah and He meets him in a gentle whisper, “I’m here. I’m here, Elijah.” Sometimes we want God to speak specific to us in this huge miraculous like these giant ways like, “Lord, just speak to me so we don’t miss it.”
But He’s going to speak to us always in a gentle whisper so we don’t miss Him. He, his presence — his presence is what gives us the courage when we feel discouraged. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you, be strong, courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The presence of God is the antidote for discouragement. The presence of God — here’s what it is, the presence of God just means you know that you have a present God like He’s here. He’s here with you right now. There’s so many ways that the Bible describes the presence of God being with us. In Colossians 1, it says that, “In Him, all things holds together.” So right now as you’re hearing me talk, God is literally holding the molecules, the cells, the atoms of your body together.” He’s holding the chair that you’re sitting on together. He’s holding the building that we’re inside of right now together. He’s holding you together.
Yeah, yeah, but Jason, I feel like I’m just holding on by a thread. No, no, no. You’re being held onto by the God. He’s holding you right now. He’s with you right now. If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit is inside of you. He dwells inside of you. So when you start to feel discouraged, think to yourself, “Okay, I’m just going to breathe in.” Because when you breathe in, you’re breathing the goodness of God. You’re breathing in the Holy Spirit. When Jesus talks to his disciplines, He says He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit. If that’s true, if Jesus breathe and the disciples received the Holy Spirit, when we breathe in we have another dose of the Holy Spirit. It’s a reminder that He’s inside of us and where two or three are gathered, there he is also. So whenever you’re with believers, He’s also there and when we come together and we worship, God is in throne of the praises of our worship and so He is there so all of these ways, God’s presence, is with us. He is with us.
In those four things that He holds us together, that He’s inside of us where two or three are gathered, he’s with us also when we worship His throne on the praises of His people. Can we just take a moment and be aware of that. Like right now, God, we feel You and You are here and Your presence is pushing out our discouragement and we’re overwhelmed not by life or by discouragement. We’re overwhelmed by your love just here like there you go, “I’m here.” Hear Him say, “I’m here.” You’re breathing in, you’re berating in the goodness of God. God is with you. He’s here. So because He’s here, you can do the third thing which is you can just talk to Him honestly. Just talk to God honestly. This is what Elijah does in verse 10. He replied, “I’ve been very zealous for the Lord God almighty.
“The Israelites have rejected your covenant. They tore down your altars. They put your prophets to the death of the sword. I’m the only one left. And now they’re trying to kill me too.” Anybody ever like that when your spouse is out of town, all the neighborhood kids are in your house, like I’m the only one left, they tried to kill me too. Because that’s how Elijah felt right then. Like at least Elijah is honest. Can we give him credit for just being honest? Because you can be honest with God because he already knows. And so when you’re talking to God like don’t be religious, be real. Like he already knows it so you can just be honest with him. Talking to God in old English, that doesn’t work. Like many times the people in the Bible would talk to God in religious ways, they talk to Jesus, those would be the most disconnected conversations. It’s the people that would just be real and honest with him that he’d be able to just connect with. He’d be able to see through to the truth of what they were actually experiencing. It’s like King David in the Psalms. You see King David just lay out this real like heart wrenching psalms like he does in Psalms 42:5, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why are you so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” He says this three times in 10 verses. So three times. I’m downcast, I’m disturbed. I am hurting right now. It’s like we see so many times in the scriptures.
Another example that is when John the Baptist is caught in prison and it’s not going to end well for him. He is about to get killed. He knows that it’s bad. And so he goes to Jesus, he’s like, “Hey man, are you the one that’s supposed to come or should I be waiting for someone else?” He just talks really honest with him. Paul says, “I’ve got a thorn in my flesh. I can’t get rid of it. And I don’t know what to do, but I can heal everybody else. I can’t be healed myself.” He just talks to God honestly about it. What’s interesting is if we talk to God honestly, a lot of times the conversations itself starts to change our perspective. Like Paul in the Bible. He’s the one who says, “But in my weakness, I’m made strong.” And Jesus himself, he’s like, “Father, will you take this cup for me? I don’t want to go to the cross. And yet, not my will, but yours be done.” So something changes when we’re honest with God because talking to God honestly can honestly change your heart. Because here’s what it does, it changes your focus. Think of like a parent that has a little kid with a skinned knee. Like, “Oh, my knee, my knee. Mom and dad, I got — aw, it hurts so bad.” And then mom and dad come up and like, “Don’t look at that. Don’t look at your skinned knee. Don’t — look at my face. Look at my face. Don’t look down. Just look — we’ll take care of that. Just down look down.” It’s kind of like that. Because when you talk to God honestly, your perspective changes. You start to see him instead of the situation. You don’t just see the waves. You see that he’s starting to pull you up above the waves, above the overwhelming feelings that you have.
Jesus is a friend and he’s right there so you can just be really honest with him. That’s the fourth thing we can do when we feel discouraged. Jesus is our friend and he invites us to find a friend. Sometimes you just got to find a friend. 1Kings 19:14, “I’m the only one left. Now, they’re trying to kill me too.” To which God replies, “Yet I reserve 7,000 in Israel, all knees have not bowed to Baal, all who’s mouths have not kissed him.” So Elisha went from — Elijah went from there and found Elisha, Elijah with a J went and found Elisha with an S. He found a friend. Some of you are here and you’re thinking, “I’m the only one. I’m the only one with this situation. I’m the only one with that marriage issue. I’m the only with that deep, dark secret.” You’re not the only one. That’s a lie. Do you ever wonder in the Bible why Satan is compared to a roaring lion? Or in the New Testament like a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Because those kind of animals isolate so they can pounce. So he wants you to think that you’re the only one so that he can attack you. You’re not the only one. There are people right now inside this church, inside this church family, they need a friend and you’re the friend they need. You can find a friend. I’ve been talking with my daughter, Anna, she’s going into middle school and she’s working out, you know, new finding new friendships. A lot of times in elementary school, the kids are running in packs like when you watch soccer fields of like elementary school, like they’re all together in a pack. But when you get into teenage, you know, life and in the middle school and high school, man, you’ve got to figure out who your friends are. You have to find them and I’ve been having a lot of conversations with her about things like, “Okay, Anna, you’ve got to be vulnerable. Like you just got to kind of lay it out there and just, alright, have the faith to go for it and believe that there’s a friend out there for you. You got to be the connector instead of waiting to be connected.”
And I’ll say to Anna things like, “It’s okay. Like just share your heart and see how they respond and see where it goes.” And it’s been really, really good because as I’m talking to her, I’m realizing that’s actually true for so many of us. Like being vulnerable and being the connector, not waiting to be connected, we could take lessons from those junior highs as they’re trying to find — middle schoolers trying to find friends. I think that’s so important for all of us. Listen, you start friendships by commonality, you deepen friendships by sharing your hopes and your dreams and your insecurities and you solidify friendships by talking about and learning about and becoming more like Jesus together. That’s what we call Godly relationships at Valley Creek. I’ll say that again. You start friendships by commonality. You deepen them by sharing hopes, dreams and insecurities. You solidify friendships by focusing on Jesus, talking about, learning about, becoming more like Jesus together. Ask God for a friend.
I’m believing for some of you that still feel disconnected, not totally connected here with the Valley Creek family, I’m believing that some of the best friends you’ve ever had, you have not yet met and they’re here inside this church family, I’m speaking about faith. I’m believing that Jesus has somebody, he has your person. He has your person. So keep asking him, keep trying to find a friend here in the VCC family. Alright. Here’s the fifth and final one. If you are facing discouragement, don’t give up. Don’t give up. One more time. Don’t give up. 1 Kings 19:50, “And the Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way you came.'” Like literally, turn around, don’t run away. Go back the way you came. Keep on moving, keep on walking. That’s a word for some of you right now. You’ve been trying to pursue that dream, you’re trying to move forward in that relationship, you’re trying to get your finances figured out, don’t give up.
You are potentially one prayer away, you’re one moment, you’re next season away from breakthrough. Don’t give up. Faithfulness is so undervalued in the world. Faithfulness is highly rewarded in the Kingdom of God. In fact, it’s actually a spiritual gift. You have faithfulness like inside of you if you believe in Jesus, so you just ask the Spirit to keep you being faithful to what he’s appointed you, to what he’s called you to. Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we reap a harvest if we do not give up.” The valley is not your home. You may be walking through the valley on the way to a mountain top. The valley is not your home. But see if you can catch this. When you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, Jesus is right there with you.
That’s why he is the good shepherd that leads you through the valley. The valley is a hard place to see very far ahead. So I don’t make long-term decisions when I’m walking in the valley because my vision is skewed. But as I walk through the valley on the way to the mountain top, when I get there, I can see more clearly so I can make better decisions because I can see in a broader scope. Here’s the thing, your life is actually meant to be lived in valleys and mountain tops. Think about it. If you’re on the mountain, there is no food, there is no water, there is little air, there is no shelter, you can’t live mountain top to mountain top. If you’re in the valley, there are streams of water, there is vegetation, there is food, there is a chance to be led when you’re hurting by your good shepherd. So our life then is not just trying to get mountain top to mountain top, it’s about walking with Jesus into both.
Even right now, if you feel like you’re in a valley season, okay, there’s more to come, Jesus is with you. There’s other mountains to climb and he will be with you the whole time. What I need you to understand, though, is if you’re in a valley season, and if you’re feeling that right now, the valley is not your home and it’s not even of the kingdom. So like those lows in life, they’re not part of kingdom and heavenly realities. Those are earthly circumstances. So you do not have to agree when you’re in the valley with whatever that thing is. Like if you’ve got cancer right now and you’ve got some kind of health issue in your body, you don’t agree with the valley. You agree and say, “Hey, I actually am healed in Jesus. By his stripes, I’m healed. So I’m going to pull down the heavenly reality into this earthly circumstance. I’m not going to agree with this valley.” “If I can’t pay my bills next month and I have a earthly circumstance that does not look good, I’m not going to agree with that valley. I’m going to agree with the fact that my God has a cattle on a thousand hills.”
“He’s going to meet all my needs according to his great riches in Jesus Christ. I’m not going to agree with the valley.” “If I’m feeling discouraged right now and I’m feeling so beat down, I’m not going to agree with that. I’m going to believe that the joy, the Lord is my strength. There is more for me. He can help me overcome my discouragement with his peace. I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to agree with that valley.” Six years ago, I almost gave up. Six years ago, we were in a middle of an adoption process. And it was expensive and long and the paperwork was a beat down. And I almost gave. See, when you have a biological child, you know they’re coming in nine months. When you decide to adopt a child, you have no idea how long the process is going to take. You are at every whim of the governments and of whoever own the process, you have no clue how long it’s going to be. Fourteen months after we started, coming into the new year, we were really having the conversation, did God call us to this? Like is this what we’re supposed to be doing? Why is this so — why are we so discouraged right now? I’d come home, my wife was crying. The weight of it was heavy. We wanted to give up. You know, waive the white flags, throw in the towel, here we go. And we prayed about it and we asked the Lord and we’re like, “Okay, Lord, like did you call us to this?” We sought our friends’ Godly counsel. And what it all came down to, we didn’t think that we should give up yet. Waited all the way through to February 29th, it was a leap year that year. I get a text on my phone, the beautiful little face of this sweet little Ethiopian girl who is now my 6-year-old daughter, Naomi, we didn’t give up. I’m so glad. I’m so glad that we didn’t give up.
You could be one prayer, one season, one step away from breakthrough in your life. No matter how discouraged you are, do not give up. Let’s finish up the rest of the story. So if you do those things, if you’re faithful, if you walk through it, if you find your friends, if you don’t give up, you will receive heavenly rewards. It doesn’t always look like you think it looks like. It doesn’t always look at maybe your expectation of what you hope for. But there will be a heavenly reward of some kind at the end of it. For Elijah, his heavenly reward is he finds Elisha, he finds the other prophets. And he actually goes and he goes on a chariot, is taken up to heaven. Like it’s an amazing reward for his faithfulness for walking through that season. I am not promising you that you will be taken up on a chariot to heaven. But here’s what I’m saying, here’s what I’m saying. If you focus on these things, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by discouragement, you’ll be focusing on more of who Jesus is, not what your circumstances are not.
So the gap between what you thought was going to happen would actually happen, it gets flipped and you start to realize, man, Jesus is my great reward. I can look to him and focus on everything that he is, rather than what my circumstances are not. It starts to change my heart. Here’s what happens, wave, wave, after wave, after wave, you’re drowning. You’re like, “I don’t think I could take anymore.” And you start to walk these things out. You start to focus on your health. You start to say, “Okay, God, I’m just going to talk to you honestly. I’m going to believe your presence is with me. I’m going to find the friends that you have for me. I’m not going to give up.” Wave after wave. It’s almost like you reach your hand up, another hand grabs on, starts to pull you up. What you realize is the waves don’t necessarily stop coming. But you’re starting to walk above them. You’re starting to walk on the storm. You’re starting to walk with your savior through everything in life. What I’m trying to say is that with Jesus, you don’t have to overwhelmed by anything because he has overcome everything.
So let’s pray. So Jesus, we just believe that — we believe that we can walk with you through any of our storms in life, through our discouragement, through our pain, through our brokenness. We thank you that you are a good shepherd who never leaves us, never forsakes us, is always with us. Even now, your presence is filling us up, filling up our hearts. We’re overwhelmed by your lavish love, by your matchless grace. That’s what we’re overwhelmed with this wave after wave with a love of the Father pouring over us. Thank you Jesus that we can walk above the storms, we can walk above the waves. We do not have to be overcome, overwhelmed in this life. Lord, for anybody that’s hearing this right now and they are about to give up and they are struggling to see you or believe that you’re good or know that you’re there for them, right now, fill them with your presence. Holy Spirit, come fill them up to overflowing. The love of the Father would reside in them that it would just overwhelm them as they feel overwhelmed. The love of God would be bigger than this circumstance that the leading of Jesus would be beyond anything they’ve ever experienced when they’re in the valley.
God, I just pray that for every person that’s hearing this prayer, right now, they’re overwhelmed by the love of God, overcome by him. Jesus, thank you for being an ever-present savior that we can talk honestly to, that has friends for us, that has so much more for us in this life. We will not give up. You did not give up on us. We will not be discouraged. We will be encouraged by the love of Jesus Christ, in your precious name, amen.