And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. –I Kings 19:10 (KJV)
When I think about the prophet Elijah and the struggles he faced, I cannot help but recall a conversation I had many years ago with a pastor friend who lives in another state. I was pleasantly surprised to hear from him, but as we talked I realized he was under terrible duress. He spoke of the pressures of ministry, the feelings of inadequacy pastors so often experience, and the never ending task of trying to minister to the congregation’s needs. At one point he broke down and was unable to continue. I could only listen as my friend was wracked with uncontrolled sobbing. Eventually, he regained control of his emotions and was able to go on. I listened, tried to offer encouragement, and promised to pray for him. I am glad to report my friend recovered from this episode of discouragement and was able to continue in the ministry.
As Elijah the prophet laid there in his cave of despair, he cried out to God and reported all the problems he was facing. Like my friend, Elijah felt he was at the end of his rope. He had sought to be faithful, he had given his all, he had been totally committed, yet he felt persecuted and unable to continue. Most of us have experienced similar bouts of discouragement and feelings of despair. The pressures of life and the ongoing challenges it presents can at times build up to the point we begin to feel hopeless. We too might end up languishing for a time in our own personal cave of despair.
God communicated to Elijah a gentle truth that it was not about him, but rather it was all about him being faithful to God. Another friend recently described to me how during a prayer time one morning she was pouring out her heart to God and was stuck by a burning question. “Lord,” she said, “can’t it be about me just once?” For followers of Jesus Christ the answer will always be the same. No, it is not about us; it is about Christ working in and through us as we face the trials and pressures of life. God’s call stands. Go and stand on the mountain. This was God’s call to Elijah, and once he took another step forward in faith he was empowered to go on.
Our daily challenge involves realizing that serving Christ and doing His will in the world is never about us. Rather, the emphasis must be on Christ and what He can do in and through us. God has a wonderful habit of using frail and flawed people to accomplish His will. Here we are with all our mistakes, hang-ups, and problems, and yet the Lord can and will do great and powerful works in our lives. Life in Christ is not about survival, but about living and walking forward in victorious faith.
Are you in a cave of despair today? God is calling you to come out and stand on the mountain of His grace and power. You will overcome through faith in Christ.
God bless you today.