“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” 1 Kings 19:3a (NIV)
There are three filters of truth through which I process life events:
- God is good.
- God is good to me.
- God is good at being God.
This is my starting place when looking at circumstances both wonderful and hurtful. These truths help me consider good things God might be doing, even with realities that don’t feel at all good. They bring me back to the goodness of God as the starting place for my continued trust in Him. These truths help settle my runaway fears and chaotic emotions when feelings beg me to question, Why would you let this happen, God?!
I’m not saying this is easy. I’ve had some really heartbreaking things happen in my life over the past couple of years. I had so many ideas of how my life should go, including notions of what a good God would and would not allow into my life.
I said I trusted God, but in reality, I think I trusted in the plan I thought God should follow. And when my life took shocking turns so far from my expectations, my soul shook. My peace evaporated. And everything in me wanted to run and hide and stop trusting God.
This is where we find Elijah in 1 Kings 19. If you’ve never read 1 Kings 18, I highly recommend it. It’s a chapter where we see God use Elijah to prove to the nation of Israel that He’s the one true God in a miraculous and powerful way. Elijah must have been on a high, seeing God do what he expected God to do. And in essence, Elijah looked good himself as the “prophet who won the showdown at Mount Carmel.”
But oh, how quickly things can change. How quickly Elijah’s absolute trust in God evaporates with one death threat from Queen Jezebel. First Kings 19:3a tells us, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”
The events taking place in 1 Kings 18 and then 1 Kings 19 are both spectacular and sobering. Spectacular as we see the Lord magnificently prove His supremacy and might to all of Israel. Sobering in that, in spite of God’s tremendous showing of power, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel are not overthrown, and Elijah ends up running for his life into hiding.
Why was Elijah fearful and in despair? I have a feeling his desperation came from the same soul-shaking place I mentioned earlier — unmet expectations. Elijah probably assumed Ahab and Jezebel’s unholy reign would come to an end after the mighty feat of the Lord. Yet, that was not the outcome, and in that place of unfulfilled expectation, fear ultimately crumbled faith.
Even though Elijah experienced the miracle on Mount Carmel, he still succumbs to the fear of persecution. Elijah flees into the wilderness, exposing the truth that even a great prophet like Elijah is still human and falls terribly short in terms of both faith and affection for the Lord.
Even so, the Lord deals graciously and gently with Elijah — drawing him close with a whisper and giving him instructions of what to do next.
God doesn’t fix things the way Elijah thinks they should be fixed, but He does lead him. And isn’t it interesting the Lord leads him back through the wilderness? (1 Kings 19:15) After all, that’s often where God takes His people to teach them His perspective that blooms into deeper faith.
The Lord gives Elijah a second chance to face the same struggles before he ran and hid, except this time with right perspective and faith.
Elijah sees God’s plan is good — even if it isn’t the way Elijah would have written it himself. And the same is true for us. God’s plans don’t have to match our plans for them to still be good.
What can we personally take away from studying these events in Elijah’s life?
Perspective is the key to trusting God. And so often the clarity we need to see things from God’s perspective happens in the wilderness experiences we all wish we could avoid.
Maybe the three truth-filters which helped me can help you in whatever life circumstances that seem unfair, unreasonable or hurtful beyond what you can bear. Let God whisper His truth that He is good. He is good to you. And He is good at being God.
Father God, I’m so thankful You don’t condemn me for my fears. Instead, You have given me the gift of Your perspective-shifting, lie-sifting, head-lifting Truth. Help me use Your Word to preach truth to my own soul when I start to doubt Your goodness. Teach me how to use it as the powerful and effective weapon it is when the enemy tries to convince me I have been forgotten and forsaken. Let it remind me that You see me, You love me, and I am safe — both in Your hands and in Your plans. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid.” (NIV)
SOURCE: Culled from Proverbs 31 Ministries