How often do I go from feelings of faith to feelings of failure? Why is discouragement so ingrained in my thinking?
Elijah a man of faith had the same issue after the victory at Mt. Carmel. God had shown His power to all of Israel and confirmed that Elijah was His servant by consuming the burnt offering. Talk about a miraculous event! All the prophets of Baal had been executed so all was right in the world. Correct? Not exactly. Jezebel, the wicked queen, threatened to kill Elijah. Fear filled him so he ran into the wilderness. Where did His trust in the faithfulness of God go? Hadn’t God just shown how powerful He was? Feelings of fear can crowd my heart like a spiral effect so that my response is one of reaction instead of godly action.
After running away Elijah was worn out. Exhaustion causes distortion of truth when my body is weary my mind can despair of a thousand things. I love how God met His need for physical restoration before lovingly redirecting Elijah. (1Kings 19:5-8)
Jehovah revealed Himself in a very unique way to Elijah. Let’s look at 1Kings 19:11-18. 11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces 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 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I love how God asks a question even though He knows the answer.)
14 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.”
15 Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria.16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
God gave Elijah direction to stand before Him on Mount Horeb which is the same mountain where Moses had an earlier encounter with God. (Exodus 33:22) I love how God displays His power through the wind, earthquake and fire but He wasn’t in those things. He came through a still small voice. What is it about a small voice that makes me pay more attention? Through the stillness a question is given to Elijah to address why he was not walking by faith. Elijah’s answer is less then equitable. His excuses are:
- He couldn’t find a purpose and everything seemed unfruitful.
- He blamed the people for their love of sin and lack of listening.
- He describes how he is the only faithful man left.
How often do I feel like Elijah? Discouragement tends to blind me to the truth. I make excuses, blame others for my own sin of distrusting God’s faithfulness in my present situation, and then wallow in feelings of loneliness. I am so thankful that God is gracious and slow to anger with His people. (Psalm 103:8)
The Lord addresses Elijah’s concerns by reminding Elijah of His sovereign precedence over it all. I can rest in the fact that feelings are– just feelings. Feelings don’t drive truth. Truth is God is faithful; I never walk alone. Even when life feels like a tornado spun out of control God is still sovereign. I can rest in His faithfulness toward me because He is refining me to be like Christ for His glory and my good.