Summary: This is a message that was preached at our local hospital. You don't have to live very long before your confronted with the reality of pain and suffering in our world. How do we make sense out of life when hope seems lost? A look at how God can work ev
When Hope Seems Lost - 1 Kings 17:17-24 - October 5, 2010 - Hospital Service
Today I want to share with you a bit of a story from the life of a man by the name of Elijah. Elijah was what is called a prophet. And a prophet is a man, or a woman, to whom God has spoken in a special way and to whom He has given a message to share with others. So God speaks to the prophet and the prophet speaks to the people. But the people don’t always like to hear what a prophet has to say because the prophet speaks God’s truth and that often makes people uncomfortable because God calls us to holiness and righteousness and out of the sin that we so often immerse ourselves in.
Now Elijah lived in a time that was in some ways vastly different than ours. There were no cars, no electricity, no televisions or phones – nothing like that. But he also lived in a time that was very similar to ours in some ways as well. He lived in a time, and among a people, that knew what it meant to hurt. They knew what it felt like to grieve and to sorrow and to mourn and to worry about the future. And the truth is, that just like theirs, the hurts of our lives come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes as well, don’t they? We have physical hurts that are caused by injury, or illness, or accident. But there are other types of hurts we experience as well and many of them are not as easy to see. There is the hurt of a grieving heart, there is a hurt that is caused by the words that others have spoken to us, there is a hurt that is caused by the disappointments or struggles we face in life, there is an emotional, or even a mental hurt, that we can experience in this world as well. And those hurts can sometimes, especially if left untreated, or unhealed, define the people that we are becoming. And in the midst of our hurts, we can lose hope.
The people of Elijah’s day were losing hope. You see, there was a great drought that had come upon the land that they lived in. For three years it did not rain and even the dew did not form upon the ground. The crops withered in the field, the streams and rivers became barren flats of dirt and sand, the wells that people depended on for drinking water ran dry too. There was great suffering amongst people and animals alike. No one was a stranger to hurt and suffering in those days. And as they watched everything that was once green and full of life, turn brown, and wither, and then crumble to dust and blow away on the wind, it became a symbol of what was happening to their hope for the future as well. They lost heart as their hope faded, and day by day their dreams turned to ashes.
In the midst of all this hopelessness Elijah seems to stand alone. God has provided for him. The word of the Lord came to Elijah and told him to go and hide himself beside a brook way back in the hills where no one would think to look for him and God would take care of him there. And God was as good as His word. Elijah found the brook right where God said it would be and twice a day God provided food for Elijah to eat and he was able to drink his water from the brook. In comparison to many in that time, Elijah had plenty. But he didn’t have it easy because he had a price on his head. The authorities were out to kill him because of the message God had given him to speak and so God had sent him to hide, for a time, at the brook. But after many months had passed the brook finally dried up. And it must have been hard on Elijah watching that brook, day by day, slowly drying up and wondering what would happen to him when it did. Would he die just like so many others were dying? He didn’t know. He only knew that God had never let him down in the past but had always taken care of him before.
And though he didn’t know it at the time, God was going to take care of him this time too – but he was going to do it in an unexpected way. And sometimes that seems to be how God works in our lives as well – in unexpected ways. Like Elijah we always want to know where the next meal is going to come from. We want to know how our needs are going to be met before things get really bad. And we think to ourselves that if we only knew how things in our lives were going to turn out that we would be able to handle so much more. If we only knew it was all going to be alright then we would never lose hope. Now I don’t know what hurt has brought you here to the hospital this day. I do not know what it is that you might be struggling with in your life. But I do know this. We all have struggles at one time or another. And I know it seems too that some have greater burden to bear in this life than others. And I also know that there are a lot of things that come into our lives that just don’t seem to make sense, times when we want to cry out, “Why me?” And maybe that’s where you find yourself in these days. And if you’re like me, when those moments of trial, or struggle come, there’s a part of you that just wants to know, “Is it going to be, o.k.? Am I going to make it through this? Am I going to be able to handle what comes my way?” And sometimes, deep in our hearts, we find ourselves wondering things like this, “Does God know what’s going on in my life? Does He really care about me at all? Is He able, or willing to help me, in the days to come?”