Summary: Pentecost 12: Life can be full of troubles. Elijah, the prophet, certainly knew this. He found deliverance and help in God. So can we!
These have been difficult weeks for some of the families at Christ Our Savior. There are those among us who have had to wrestle with death up close and personal. There are people who’ve had to face the death of someone very near and dear to them. There are people here who have had to face very difficult and worrisome health challenges – sometimes health challenges that drain the very will to go on from people. We have people close to this ministry who have had intense struggles with their marriages and family life. It is an incredibly difficult thing to face life knowing that the relationships you value the most are crumbling. There are people here who have had to face intense scrutiny and difficulty with their employers. There are people here who have to face difficult financial challenges.
Life can be a hard thing when we face these struggles. It can leave us feeling alone, abandoned, helpless, useless. Many people even suffer bouts of depression. Statistical studies demonstrate that more than 17 million people suffer from depression. Often these bouts are brought upon because of physiological reasons and need the attention of a physician to correct. But sometimes, people suffer depression-like symptoms because they feel that they have no hope.
People respond in different ways to this type of burden. Some stand up to the challenge and keep paddling. Some turn and run. Some withdraw into a shell. Some keep muddling through, but every day is a struggle - even getting out of bed to face the day becomes a chore.
There is the mistaken notion that people who are believers - Baptized children of God – church going people – are somehow immune to these sorts of things. The erring prosperity teachers delude gullible believers to think that by becoming believers God will give them new cars, huge bank accounts and lovely homes. Those who preach a gospel of glory instead of the cross teach that the Christian life is about only good things and plenty and great health. But that is altogether unbiblical.
Today we are going to deal with this delicate topic from God’s Word. We will use as a basis for our meditation the Old Testament reading which speaks about a low, low time in the great prophet Elijah’s life. Let me just give you a little background so that we can have a good context for that event.
You see, Elijah had just experienced one of the most powerful victories a believer can possibly live through. He’d been at Mt. Carmel. There he had been God’s instrument in doing battle the prophets of Baal. Wow, was it ever an awesome encounter and display of God’s power. Elijah had literally called fire from the sky and a thrice dowsed pile of wood on an altar was set ablaze by a column of fire that God sent from the sky. After it was all said and done, the prophets of Baal were shown to the inept, effete idolaters that God said they were. The people who witnessed this event fell on their faces and cried, “The LORD - He is God! The LORD - He is God!” So Elijah was literally on a mountaintop – physically and spiritually.
So here we have God’s man, a prophet of God, at the zenith of his career. But maybe, Elijah in his humanity, didn’t realize that some of our greatest spiritual letdowns follow tremendous spiritual highs. The Lord had delivered powerful victories into his hand. Nothing could stop him now – right? Enter Jezebel, king Ahab’s wife, and meaner than cornered wildcat. She was really ticked off when she heard that Elijah had defeated and had put all the prophets of Baal to death. She swore that the next day would not end before she would have Elijah put to death.
No sweat, right? Elijah had seen God’s mighty hand at work. He’d seen God deliver the prophets of Baal into his hands. He’d seen God used ravens to bring him food when he was hungry. He’d even seen the power of God raise the dead to life. There would be no threat, no problem, no issue that could Elijah, not even Jezebel - right? Wrong! Elijah was afraid. He ran for his life. Let’s read about his experience: [read the Old Testament Lesson here 1 Kings 19:4-8]
How many of you can identify with Elijah? Haven’t there been times when things got to the point where we just wanted the world to stop so that we could get off? “No one can help you,” says the enemy to you. “God doesn’t care about you,” satan lies. “How could you possibly think that a God who is so far removed and distant would even be aware of your problems,” says the devil to us.