– By Belinda Elliott
Fed by birds in the desert, used by God to raise someone from the dead, witnessed fire sent down from Heaven, and swept away to eternity by a chariot of fire, the Old Testament prophet Elijah had quite the adventure!
But even he had his down days.
Elijah had been doing great things for God. He had just recently participated in one of the biggest showdowns in history between the Lord and a pagan god. The people were amazed as Elijah called on the one true God and He answered in a magnificent way. (Check out the story in 1 Kings 18).
After that demonstration of power, it seemed like the people were convinced that the pagan god they had been serving was a fake. But this sentiment was to be short-lived.
After Elijah embarrassed her fake god, Israel’s queen Jezebel promised to get even. Elijah quickly went from a confident man proclaiming the Word of God to a coward on the run from a crazed woman who wanted to kill him.
Though he had seen God’s power at work, he felt alone. It seemed as if the rest of the nation had become wicked. They had abandoned their worship of God and pursued pagan gods instead.
Had he made any progress at all? How could he continue to work for God when it seemed no one was listening?
Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps you are serving in the ministry that God has called you to but you haven’t seen the results that you thought you would. Or maybe God has given you a clear directive, but every time you make any progress toward what He has told you to do you find another obstacle in the way.
Or perhaps you are the only Christian in your family or in your circle of friends. In a post-modern culture where it seems like “anything goes,” it can be difficult to keep God’s moral standards. When many around us live contrary to God’s Word, it is difficult to not be swayed by their influence. Sometimes being “in the world, but not of it” is harder than we care to admit.
If you have felt like this, you are in good company. Elijah also felt like he had been laboring in vain. He cried out to God, “Lord God All-Powerful, I have always served you as well as I could. But the people of Israel have broken their agreement with you, destroyed your altars, and killed your prophets with swords. I am the only prophet left, and now they are trying to kill me, too” (1 Kings 19:14).
He wasn’t just feeling pressured by the culture around him. Nor was this a case of simply not fitting in with his friends or family. His very life was at stake.
I recently re-read this story, and I noticed something that I had never seen before. After Elijah makes his complaint to God, the Lord immediately gives him a new assignment. It’s not that God ignores Elijah’s complaint, but it’s pretty obvious that God didn’t want the prophet to stop working.
The sentiment behind the Lord’s command to Elijah was basically, “Keep on keeping on.”
But He did add a word of encouragement. At the end of His instructions to Elijah, God makes one last observation: “I have seven thousand people left in Israel who have never bowed down before Baal and whose mouths have never kissed his idol” (1 Kings 19:18).
I find that verse to be quite hopeful. Although Elijah thought he was the only one continuing to serve God, it turns out there were numerous people still seeking the Lord. And what’s even more encouraging is that this faithful group didn’t escape the Lord’s attention. He saw them and knew of their faithfulness.
He sees our faithfulness too.
Every time we choose His way instead of our own, He takes note of it. Each time we sacrifice ourselves in some way for His kingdom, whether it is through our time, talents, or finances, He sees it. Whenever we are obedient to Him, He notices.
And His Word promises that our faithfulness will not go unrewarded. When we become discouraged by the wickedness around us, we must remember that the place we call home for now is not our final destination. Our reward will be in Heaven. One day we will see the fruits of our labors.
Galatians 6:9 instructs us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Even if we are the only ones among our peers, in our workplaces, or in our families who are serving the Lord, we must continue to stay strong in our faith. We never know how He may use the witness of our lives to draw someone to Him. In the meantime, we can rest assured that He sees every situation we encounter and He walks through each one with us.
What can we do when we become discouraged in our service?
I believe we can take a lesson from Elijah. Pray. Remember God’s promises. And keep on keeping on!
Article source: www.cbn.com.