60 Seconds - The Juniper Tree Experience

Several years ago, a sad accident took the life of a sixteen-year-old farm boy. He was getting cattle silage from a trench silo when a pile about twelve feet high fell on him, burying him. Before anyone knew of his trouble, and before he could dig his way out, the lad died of suffocation. Figuratively speaking, life's problems and pressures can likewise be suffocating.

In 1 Kings 19:4, we read of the prophet Elijah, "He sat down under a juniper tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough!' Up to this point, his ministry had been one of miracles and noticeable accomplishments. However, he now escapes to Mount Horeb, suffering from the agony of discouragement, and he asks God to let him die. The late C. M. Ward said, "There are times like that in every life."

In Psalm 38:14, we read of a time in David's journey when he felt he was not going to make it, that he was at his emotional end, and about to fall. He expressed his feelings, "And in whose mouth is no response." This phrase means "a man who has no arguments left." At the end of his life, John Knox, the great Scottish reformer, lost heart, withdrew from public life, and wrote despairingly: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and put an end to this miserable life, for justice and truth are not to be found among the sons of men. Signed: John Knox, with deliberate mind, to his God."

Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, reflected on the 23rd Psalm: "One of a sheep's greatest dangers is a condition called ‘a cast sheep.' The cast sheep is a sheep which has fallen on its back with its feet straight up in the air, and cannot get up on its own power. If the shepherd fails to restore the sheep, the sheep is vulnerable to attack, loses circulation in its legs and air to its lungs. Without restoration by the shepherd, the sheep will suffocate and die. The shepherd not only restores the weakened sheep to an upright position by gently supporting it and by nursing its wounds, but the shepherd also places the sheep on the right path, heading in the right direction."

"In my distress I prayed to the Lord and He answered me and rescued me" (Psalm 118:5, The Living Bible).

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida, 34654