Have you ever had a day when everything seemed overwhelming? It reminds me of the movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Everyone in the family is trying so hard to make important events happen in their life, but a fiasco waits around every corner. Have you ever said, “I just give up; I can’t do this anymore," or "I am the only one that does anything?” I think we all probably get frustrated and allow this thought to at least cross our minds.
When trying to minister in a situation this week, I was reminded of one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I started studying Elijah very intently last year, which would end with a change in our direction in life and ministry.
- Elijah delivered a message that there would be a drought until he spoke again.
- He lived by a brook in isolation while God provided bread and meat by the Ravens. The brook dried up and God asked him to move to Zarepath. We have to wonder if he was frustrated God did not continue to provide for him there. After all God had the power to do so right? Regardless, Elijah followed God direction.
- He comes in to contact with a widow and ask her instead of making her last meal for her family to make it for him. He said if you do this your jar will never run out. So Elijah, the widow, and her son lived off a small jar of flour and oil that never ran out. They didn't have anything new or excess but God provided for their physical needs.
- Elijah saved the boy's life while in her home.
- God tells Elijah to show himself to Ahab because He is ready to send rain.
1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.2 So Jezebel sent a messenger 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 that of one of them.”3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 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.7 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.” 8 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. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. The Lord Appears to Elijah And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”11 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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 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?” 14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
Elijah has just come off the mountaintop where he called down fire from heaven and slayed over 400 Baal prophets. The drought is over and the rain has come, but now Elijah is allowing Jezebel to steal the blessing he has been waiting to receive. Any time we run from the resistance, we are running from God. I heard a man say once, “Satan cannot deny God from giving blessings, but he can keep you so distracted you do not receive them.” After this entire fulfillment of the prophecy, don’t you think God would have taken care of Jezebel? Elijah has been so dependent on God for his very survival, yet now when the raining is falling, he seems to let his guard down. Maybe he even struggled from disappointment. Mt Carmel did not immediately turn the whole nation back to God like he had imagined. Have you ever let a situation get in your head? Maybe you were super disappointed in a person, in a job situation, or in your performance. All of a sudden something small to handle became a problem that consumed you. You thought about it so much from your human perspective, it seemed too big even for God. Here is a mighty, obedient prophet of God now running, not because God has instructed him to, but because he is fearful for his life. The question God ask serves as a reproof. “What are you doing here?” Many times God puts a question in our minds because He wants us to examine our life. Am I where God wants me to be? Am I doing the things God has set before me? God had never instructed Elijah to be in his current location. But oh how I love these verses. Elijah is saying, Lord, I have done everything you have asked me to do, yet still someone wants to kill me. In essence, he is admitting to the Lord he is tired, afraid, and weak. He bared his soul to the Lord. Did he receive judgement, punishment? He prayed to die, but the Lord sent an angel to minister to his physical needs. He went back to sleep, and yet again the angel provided a meal. I hope this resonates with someone today. The Father wants to minister to your every need. Sometimes we get ourselves so exhausted we cannot think clearly. When we are not taking care of our self physically it can easily affect our emotions. Why do you think Satan came to Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness to tempt Him? He had no food or water and was weak physically. Although Satan did not succeed, I am not sure we would have fared that well. I am convinced after years in the ministry that if you are feeling exasperated you are only performing tasks and not allowing God to move you through His Spirit. When we are operating in the Spirit, God provides plenty of energy to carry out His plan. It doesn’t seem like a burden but pure pleasure to serve the Lord that has saved you. He gives us the strength, the love, and the resolve to love His people (even the hard ones).
I love these verses because Elijah is not where he is supposed to be. He is not doing what he is supposed to be doing; yet God seeks him. This touches my heart. The Lord loves us beyond measure. He sees His servant in distress and He lifts him up. 1 Peter 5:6 Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the right time he may lift you up. God tells Elijah to come out and stand because the Lord was going to pass by. Once again, although Elijah was not where he was suppose to be, God still showed up in that place! Praise the Lord. This is very important; don’t miss it! We do not have to have it all together in order to experience the Lord. In fact, it may be that we experience Him more in those times of weakness because we are so overwhelmed by His grace. The wind, and earthquake, and fire, did not make Elijah cover his face, but the still voice did. The mild voice of Him who speaks from the cross, or the mercy-seat, is accompanied with peculiar power in taking possession of the heart (Mathew Henry’s Concise commentary).
Notice the biggest lie that Elijah believed: “I am the only one left.” Satan would like nothing more than to make us feel isolated and alone. I can just picture this being spoken over and over again to someone in pain or suffering physically or mentally. This however was not the truth. The truth was God had a remnant of 7,000 men who had never bowed to Baal. The truth was that He was also preparing Elisha to be a helper to Elijah and share the burden. When we take our eyes off the Lord and lean to our own understanding, we are willing to believe things that are not true. Satan lures us to travel a road God never intended with lies and destruction.
The Lord came to Elijah because he was not finished with Him. God came to spiritually strengthen and encourage Elijah for the journey still left for him to carry out. Aren’t you so thankful the Lord is always willing to tend to our emotions, our spirits, and our physical body? I am so thankful for a Savior who comes to find me even when I have messed up! If you are out there today feeling like you cannot go on, I encourage you to seek God. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 The Lord wants nothing more than to minister to you right where you are. Will you allow Him to do so?
Father I am thankful for each person who is reading this devotion. We get things wrong so many times. Please help us never believe the lies of Satan. Help us believe that we are your children washed in the blood of the lamb. Thank you for always pursuing us so that we may be found holy and blameless before you. I pray that for any person reading this that does not know you as their Savior that they would find HOPE today in you.
A-admit that you are a sinner. B-Believe that Jesus is God's son. C-Confess your sin to the Lord and He will save you.