Summary: We will all encounter struggle and pain in our lives, but God is still GOD in these things, and will use them for growth in you and ultimately His glory!
God of the Shakedown
We’ve all had moments where the world seems to fall down around us don’t we? Some of us may be walking through a season like this right now. I want to thank Geri for her message last week again on the victory that we have in our savior. But why is it that as soon as things begin to “shakedown” in our lives we are so quick to forget this promise?
Why does it also seem that when things don’t go our way that we automatically assume that nothing good can come from this? Why do we think that God is not a part of what we are going through right now?
The answer is simpler than you think: We are self-centered. We have placed all our stock (our hopes, desires, dreams, goals) in ourselves. But as we’ll see this morning, this is a misplaced trust.
I want to use a story that the Prophet Elijah experienced as an example of what we’re talking about this morning, and I want to give you some context of what has just happened prior to where we are picking up.
Elijah has just had an amazing showdown on Mt. Carmel with 450 prophets of the false god Baal in an attempt to refocus the people of Israel back on God. He sets up an altar with a sacrifice of two bulls and challenges the false prophets to have their god consume the sacrifice with fire.
After hours of no answer from their god, Elijah steps up, repairs the altar, a trench dug around it, and even orders the altar to be covered with enough water to fill the trench. Elijah calls on the Lord, and he answers with a fire so great it consumes all of the altar and water! Elijah then orders the death of the prophets, and victory is certain right?
Not completely. This act has angered the King’s wife Jezebel who orders Elijah’s immediate death. And what does the prophet who has seen great acts of God performed do? He flees. Where we join Elijah is in Horeb, the mountain of God.
1 Kings 19:8-13 (NLT)
So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
I want to pause here and share with you how this passage became personal to me recently. It was really only a month or so ago, and no I didn’t have my life threatened to the point to where I fled to the caves in Shadow Mountain! But without going into any detail, I reached a place personally and in ministry where I felt like I knew where things were headed. I was watching God do amazing things, opening doors of growth and truly moving in major ways.
Then there was the sudden jolt of the unexpected. (Sound familiar to anyone?) And I did what Elijah did. I panicked! “God why have you forsaken me?! I thought I was doing what you wanted! God, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but I’ve certainly got some pointers!”
I began to become cynical, and ultimately carried a spirit of bitterness anywhere I went. And I retreated. But what I didn’t realize, and would soon find out, is that God was using this to get me to the place I needed to be.
1. God uses these to get our attention
Look back at Elijah’s story. God asks him what he’s doing, and Elijah is looking for a pity party. Woe is me! Then God responds:
1 Kings 19:11-12 (NLT)