Hope, Shattered Perspectives, Words of Endurance

Immediately the fire of God fell
and burned up the offering,
the wood, the stones, the dirt,
and even the water in the trench.
All the people saw it happen
and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming,
“God is the true God! God is the true God!”
1 KINGS 18:38-39 (THE MESSAGE)

The scene atop Mount Carmel must have been spectacular. The people of Israel and their evil king, Ahab, had gathered to witness the showdown between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:16-40). God, the God of Elijah showed up in a heavenly fireball! The people’s response was no less dramatic. The false prophets were killed and the people repented of their idol worship.

After the decisive victory, Elijah was elated. Nothing could stop him. He ran 17 miles cross country to be present when Queen Jezebel got the news that her beloved prophets were no match for the living God. That, however, was when good news turned to bad. Instead of repenting, Jezebel had a death threat hand delivered to Elijah!

Elijah’s mood plunged from the exhilaration of the mountaintop to the chasm of despair on the valley floor. The Bible doesn’t tell us what went on in Elijah’s mind when he received the life threatening news. It only tells us that he, the great prophet who had been used by God to orchestrate one of the most dramatic spiritual confrontations in history, turned tail and ran!

He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all – to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life!
I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!”
Exhausted he fell asleep under the broom bush.

That’s an unusual victory speech! Why the sudden change? Apparently Elijah, a man of great faith, momentarily lost perspective. Why else would he flee from one lone woman after defeating 450 men? Why else would he be so discouraged after such a great victory that he would ask God to take his life?

Exhaustion, stress, unfulfilled expectations and fear are just a few of the experiences that can lead to a loss of perspective – no matter how spiritual we are or what Spiritual victories we may have amassed. But we can find comfort in knowing that giants of the faith lose perspective and become discouraged too. Elijah’s response (1 Kings 19) to a crushing loss of perspective provides helpful insights for dealing with our own perspective issues.

He sought solitude. Elijah got alone with God. After receiving Jezebel’s death threat, he went off by himself “a day’s journey into the wilderness.”

He was honest with God. Elijah didn’t hold back his true feelings. “Enough of this God! Take my life”

He rested. Elijah didn’t fight his body’s response to stress and exhaustion. He took care of his need for rest. “Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.”

At times, we may find ourselves in a similar state of mind as the prophet Elijah. One moment we’re standing tall on the mountaintop. We’re certain that God is with us, working for our good in the midst of great adversity – cancer, divorce, financial crisis or whatever trial we face. Then, before we know it and when we least expect it – everything changes. Our perspective shatters and we don’t recognize the landscape at all. Our circumstances don’t indicate that any plan might be in place – much less a good plan with a good outcome. Our expectations are dashed. We grow disillusioned and weary. Our perspective shatters.

But thank God we don’t have to stay in that place. We can survive the plunge from the mountaintop to the valley floor . With God’s help – because He is with us in both places – we can reconstruct a perspective that enables us not only to see the mountaintop but to stand upon it!

The distance between the mountaintop and the valley floor
can be quickly traversed.
Yet God’s children who make that journey
discover that God is in both places.

On the Journey with You,
Dave & Jan Dravecky