Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragement, Part 4

2 Kings 19:11-14

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

 

Response:

Stop. Think about the scripture for a moment. Envision it.

Pause. Reflect. Now…go.

What a powerful demonstration here.  Certainly, God can be in the midst of such glorious displays.  Yet, it was a whisper that the Lord chose to reveal himself here.   The wind may destroy,  the earthy may quake and the fire may consume. But the voice of God, even in His whisper, is more powerful than any force of the earth combined.

What a marked contrast! What a reminder!

Let us remember that displays of power and glory do not automatically change a person’s heart.

Let us remember that the voice of God is what convicts – not the voice or works of man. May we trust in His strength and not our own.

Let us remember this as we go about our days, planning our services, and ministering to the treasured hearts God loves so much.

And finally,

Let us always seek to create an atmosphere where the voice of God is welcome and where we are are inclined to listen and respond.

 

“He first wrapped his mantle about his face – he became subdued and awe-stricken – full of reverence. Oh! it is a great thing when a sinner is willing to wrap his face when he is confounded, and say, ‘I cannot defend my course; I am guilty.’ We know that if at our judgment-seat a man pleads guilty, he is punished; but at the judgment-seat of the gospel whoever pleads guilty is forgiven. Wrap your face.” (Spurgeon)

 

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragement, Part 3

1 KING 19:9-10, NIV

 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

 

When Elijah was rested, he went into one of the many surrounding caves. This is the man who prayed for a drought for 3 years, and the Lord answered. This is the man who prayed for rain to end the drought and the Lord answered. And, this is the man who prayed earnestly to the Lord in his time of fear. Elijah did not hold back. He said to God, “I have been zealous for You. I have been obedient. And now, I am alone and in danger of death.”

Elijah unburdened his heart to the Lord, raw in his honesty.  Yet, it was God who subtedly prodded Elijah to unburden his heart, asking, “Why are you here?” Certainly, God knew. But, He wanted to hear Elijah’s heart in the words of his choosing.

God wants a real, authentic, relationship. The kind where we actually talk to him. A lot.  The kind where we unashamedly tell him the journey is too much, or that we have had more than we can bare, or that we feel abandoned and alone, despite our faithfulness.

Even in our deepest discouragement, even when our words are most bitter, even when we find ourselves surprised at the condition of our hearts, we can trust that God is not surprised at all. Instead, He is prepared and waiting.

In closing,

When my daughter’s bestfriend moved away, she told me, “I am all alone now and there is no one to play with me. Nobody loves me now!” And then, crying loudly, she ran to her room and slammed the door. As a parent, it broke my heart. The sound of my daughter crying always pains me, no matter the circumstances. I suspect that God looks down on us as compassionately as I did my daughter. You see, I knew that her loneliness was real and justified. I knew that her sadness was real and untamed. Because I knew,  I did not tell her to stop crying or to stop feeling sad. Rather, I entered her room and sat beside her for a while, waiting. Eventually, she crawled into my lap. When she calmed down a little, I talked to her, validating her feelings and guiding her through them. Soon enough, the moment passed, and my daughter was ready to play again.

Just like a parent, God knows our circumstances. He knows that, just as a child, sometimes we run to our “rooms” crying and distraught. He knows that our pain and loneliness is big and real, and He does not prevent us from enduring all the difficulties living a faithful life yields.  He knows, just as parents do, that tribulations produce perseverance, character, and hope.

He knows and He waits beside us.  He waits for the crying to settle, the heart to soften, and the soul to calm. Tenderly and patiently, He waits.

And then, in the most perfect of moments, He speaks…(Please come back tomorrow to read my response to 1 KINGS 19:11-14

I leave you with this scripture:

Romans 5:1-5, NIV

 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragement, Part 2

1 Kings 19:5-8 New International Version (NIV)

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an 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 and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

My response:

The angel said,  “Arise and eat.

But the message from God was  “Arise from this pit of despair. Take from my strength and feed yourself. Rest and be replenished.”

God,

When we allow fear to settle,

when we hide in shame and despair,

when we are drowning in doubt,

may we always remember Your response,

A Stephens

The spirit needs to be fed, and the body needs feeding also. Do not forget these matters; it may seem to some people that I ought not to mention such small things as food and rest, but these may be the very first elements in really helping a poor depressed servant of God.” (Spurgeon)

“It was very gracious for God to deal this with his servant. We might have expected rebuke or remonstrance, chiding or chastisement; but we would hardly have expected such loving, gentle treatment as this.” (Meyer)

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragment

Elijah.

A man. A prophet. Called by God and simply obedient. What can we take from his life, his story?

 

I am currently reading about Elijah and in the next few days, I will share parts of my writing (from my daily devotional times), along with a few quotes that I find striking.

Today, I respond after reading about Elijah’s greatest moment of discouragement.

1 KINGS 19:1-4

Even the prophet Elijah, this mighty man of prayer,  became discouraged, fearing for his life. This is interesting, because God just moved mightily though Elijah, and in front of hundreds of witnesses. How could Elijah, after all God had proven, suddenly distrust God’s protection ? So , Elijah ran, and certainly, this is a low moment. A failing moment, at that.  But instead of running from God into eternal rebellion, Elijah ran into isolation and prayed, saying, “”It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

What about his prayer? Can we not, in all our natural humanness, understand such a prayer?  While it was not necessarily honorable to run, this prayer to God depicts that Elijah still had a heart set after God’s.  Elijah was honest with God, praying earnestly in his discouragement.

We should all take note here. There will be times of uncertainty, yes? There will be times when we feel burdened by ministries, yes.  But instead of building walls, becoming disingenuous in our walks, or turning into rebellion, we should seek to be honest with God, trusting in his response. We should run into solitude, just to fall down at the mercy of Christ. When in despair, that is where our hearts should be found. It is there where God reveals himself as as tender God, full of love and affection, treating our frail humanities’ most offensive failures with the sweetest grace possible.

~May our prayers be unceasingly honest, as we can be sure to entrust God with our frail hearts and premature words. We may fall; we may arise. Wherever we are, we can be sure of God’s great affection,

A Stephens.

 

“Elijah failed in the very point at which he was strongest, and that is where most men fail. In Scripture, it is the wisest man who proves himself to be the greatest fool; just as the meekest man, Moses, spoke hasty and bitter words. Abraham failed in his faith, and Job in his patience; so, he who was the most courageous of all men, fled from an angry woman.” (Spurgeon)

“Elijah said, ‘It is enough,’ yet it was not enough even for his own enjoyment, for the Lord had more blessings in store for him … It was so with Elijah, for he was to have that wonderful revelation of God on Mount Horeb. He had more to enjoy, and the later life of Elijah appears to have been one of calm communion with his God; he seems never to have had another fainting fit, but to the end his sun shone brightly without a cloud. So it was not enough; how could he know that it was? It is God alone who knows when we have done enough, and enjoyed enough; but we do not know.” (Spurgeon)