Do you have that time in your head? Hold that thought and let’s offer it all to God in prayer. In thanks for the Lord getting us through it and in seeking for the hard times we are in right now.
Pray for that thing. Ask God to take it and release you to focus on Him.
I bet it didn’t take too long to think of something, did it? That’s because we are all fallen people living in a fallen world and life happens, it is unavoidable.
In today’s readings we are going to talk about the hard times that Elijah faced. Elijah was a Tishbite from the settlers of Gilead. God told him to deliver some troubling news to a newly crowned king, Ahab (who by the way, was evil in the sight of God). At this point Ahab and Jezebel are trying to convert Israel from a God-fearing nation to a Baal serving nation.
Elijah was to tell the king that there will be a severe drought in the land. God, knowing that this was not going to be a popular topic to address to the king, God called Elijah to start running.
So, Elijah started facing some challenging times, but God was always there for him every step of the way. God provided meat and bread, through ravens, He provided an abundant supply of wheat and oil from jars that wouldn’t run dry, He even lay warm bread and water at his head when Elijah had given up all hope. The Lord was always there for him, Elijah just had to accept it and eat it.
In 1 Kings 19:1-13 We join Elijah in his journey through these troubled times.
1 Kings 19:1-13, CSB
1Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2So, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “May the gods punish me and do so severely if I don’t make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!” 3Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-Sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, 4but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my fathers.” 5Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. Suddenly, an angel touched him. The angel told him, “Get up and eat.” 6Then he looked, and there at his head was a loaf of bread baked over hot stones, and a jug of water. So, he ate and drank and lay down again.
Now that is a good God. This angel could have lit Elijah up. “What are you doing?” “Why are you giving up?” “Why are you being so lazy?” “Why do you lack so much in faith?” No! The angel not only gave him food and water but made sure the bread was warm on a hot stone and the water was right next to his head. He didn’t even need to get up.
7Then the angel of the Lord returned for a second time and touched him. He said, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” 8So, he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
You know, I love working out. I love going into the gym and feeling that burn and muscle fatigue, makes me really feel like I got a solid workout in. There was a season, not too long ago that I decided that I wanted to lose weight and build muscle. Which is possible but extremely hard. Especially the way I went about it. You see I started eating less and working out more. One day I was with a trainer and I was doing a HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training) and I just could not finish the workouts. I was fatiguing faster than usual and getting extremely lightheaded. My training asked me if I had been eating. I told her “no, I’m trying to lose weight.” She stared at me for a second and said, “How do you expect to finish a workout if you have no energy to get you there?” You see, starving myself wasn’t the answer. Starving yourself while working out does two things to your body.
One: It deprives you of energy. Without the appropriate fuel your body can’t function well enough to do any kind of work or task.
Second: It puts your body into something called “starvation mode” it’s basically where your body registers that it is not getting the fuel it needs to complete its tasks and so as a defense mechanism, stores fat for later, which actually causes you to gain weight and not the good kind.
Now you might be thinking to yourselves, “Is he preaching to us about losing weight?” No, that is not what I am doing or saying. What I’m trying to get across to all of us is, how many times have we been kicked around by hard times? How many times have we lacked the strength to get up after stress overtakes us? And we cry out, “Why God?” Why is this happening to me? Why can’t I seem to overcome this? Meanwhile, we aren’t eating the bread and drinking the water. We aren’t replenishing our strength for this journey called life. Verse 9…
9He entered a cave there and spent the night. Suddenly, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Armies, but the Israelites have abandoned your covenant, torn down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.” 11Then he said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.” At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs 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.
Can you imagine being in a cave, on a mountain, by yourself and all the sudden winds hit the mountain so hard that rocks break loose and the mountain starts to shake violently? How stressful and scary would that moment be?
12After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
“Why are you afraid? I am right here with you. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will carry you through this. Trust in me, I will provide for you.“
You know God whispers sometimes because He’s close.Bill Rose
Sometimes the wind can beat us hard, the ground can shake, and our foundation can get rocky and if we are just focused on those things, we can miss what God is doing in us, right here.
When hard times find us and they will find us. We can either give up and wait for destruction like the widow and her son or like Elijah fleeing from Jezebel or we can eat and drink His word and access a God who actually shows up and who is close. In Deuteronomy 31:6 it says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of “them”… [Your financial stress, you unfortunate circumstance, your broke down car, your loss of a loved one, your broken relationships, your sickness, your fear, your heart ache, your hurt, your doubt…] for the Lord your God is with you [He is close] He will never leave you or forsake you.”