When you are in a tough place, take heart in him
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. (1 Kings 19:1–4a)
Have you ever lived in a place where you tried to do everything right and things still went wrong? You do family devotions with your kids and one still gets in trouble at school. You go to church and even attend Bible study but you still have a neighbor that criticizes you. Your husband works long hard hours and his boss is still intent on ending his career. If so, you can identify with Elijah. He took a bold stand for God and Jezebel swore an oath to kill him within twenty-four hours. Yikes!
What do you do when things go wrong? Elijah may not have handled this one in the best possible way. He made an immediate unplanned move to the wilderness. To be more precise, the Scripture states, “He arose and ran for his life!”
Emotionally, fear overcame him—fear for his life. Healthy fear keeps us away from things that may harm us. Then there is crippling fear that shakes our confidence in ourselves, makes us question our faith in God, and moves us to go AWOL.
An immoral lifestyle in disobedience to God did not bring on Elijah’s emotional state. God had sent him to the assignment where he confronted the evil rulers. Elijah was doing his best job. Yet his prophetic career had never faced such a tough challenge.
A time may come when you—or someone you know—find yourself struggling through a tough assignment. Your husband’s job may be the source of the difficulty. The isolation of a difficult location may get you down. Problems with your children may seem overwhelming. Or, heaven forbid, you may face a combination of all three. If you find yourself ready to run—don’t!
Jesus never said the life of a Christ follower would be easy. In fact, he warned us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
The bad thing about a great assignment is that you have to leave in two or three years. The good thing about that place you can’t wait to see in your rearview mirror is that you can leave in two or three years. The great thing about being a Christ follower is that he is with you always, in every place. When you are in a tough place, take heart in him.
What are some of the characteristics of a tough assignment? What hope do Psalm 3:4, Psalm 34:17, and Psalm 50:15 offer during overwhelming times?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, thank you for the assurance that you are with me always, in every place. Keep me in remembrance of this truth: “Blessed is the [woman] who remains steadfast under trial, for when [she] has stood the test [she] will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Amen.