Even the best go through times when they certainly aren’t feeling their best! When they are overcome by weakness and terror and the way forward seems to be darkened by an impenetrable cloud. Those times when the rushing waters feel so cold and overwhelming that they feel as if the turmoil will drown them.
We look at the best prophet-Elijah. Stern, unyielding, standing alone for God rather than to choose to stand with the false prophets. We see him so good at keeping his integrity that the fear of death does not move him to recant or to soften the message God has given him. We see him being used so mightily that through his presence, a widow woman and her son are fed throughout the famine till God sees it fit to feed the land again.
But what happens when the storm clouds come and the tempest rages? He realises, he’s NOT the best. He is powerless against the wickedness of man. He may have shown that he is able to be an instrument to show who is Lord, but it does not mean that His strength and presence will save him from the plans of the evil one. Just because God uses him mightly, doesn’t mean he won’t allow threats of death to be made against him. Just because God sends his angels to preserve us from physical danger, does not mean it won’t threaten us. We can get sick, terminally sick, but God is there if we call upon Him just as Elijah did in his moment of doubt.
“But Lord, I did everything you told me to. Why is it that even now, this evil woman is STILL after me? I thought by being victorious for you, the shadow of death would not compass me about! My friends have died, I guess I too will be put to death. Why do I STILL need to keep exercising faith in you? I thought I exhibited enough faith by the brook Cherith, by telling the widow that You would feed us, by standing alone on Mt. Carmel. How much more faith do I need to have? I can’t take this constant threat hanging over me any more, just let me rest. No matter what I do, no matter how faithful I am, the sword of death hangs over me still. I have served you so lovingly, I have sacrificed so much for You but still, the devil is allowed to threaten me. This world is too much for my battle-scarred life.”
Isn’t this a similar cry given by the faithful when they’ve done all in the right manner yet God allows sickness (or other threats) to come upon them? When we see others go their rest and we beg for us to also be allowed that same peace? “Lord, my body is weak. I am tired. Too often I feel as if I am close to death. Why is it that you have allowed me to suffer this? I know the trying of our faith worketh patience, but why must I keep learning more and more patience? Am I not yet patient enough? Am I not saintly yet? Please, take this cup of suffering from me.”
But what does God do ? He manifests His power and He speaks. He manifests His powerful love and sends His angel to feed Elijah. Once Elijah has been reminded of Who the source of life is, He then is ready to listen to God’s promise. For you know, God heard the cry. Elijah was tired. In his moment of doubt, of long service to God, he was ready to leave this sin-sick world. God sends him to work some more..but there’s a promise in one of the duties. “Go and choose Elisha and anoint him, to be prophet in your place.”
Glorious promise to all who hold faithful now. And better yet, we are at the end of time. Elijah’s prayer for release from this world was answered. NOT in the way he expected, not with death, but with translation. Elijah had finished the race. Not with his own power, but through God’s understanding heart that heard the cry, the pleading within and knew what was best for Elijah. Service may continue long, your trials may perplex you, you may feel alone. Your body will be tired of the constant battle, the weight of the shadow of death hanging over you. But oh faithful soldier, if you STILL talk to your Commander, if you STILL plead with HIM, if you still trust in Him and never surrender your hold on Him, he understands the cry of your heart.
For every Elijah, there has been a Stephen. But dear faithful soul, the battle is almost over. Who knows but that God will ask you to do some more work, but then after that, you may just yet get the release you have begged for. He might not let you sleep as your fallen soldiers have done, for we have the promise as shown through Elijah and through the writings of Paul, that at His coming, those of us faithful soldiers who are alive will be caught up into heaven. God will hear our pleas for salvation when the spectre of death hangs grim all around us and He will answer. Be faithful. He hears your cries and will answer in an unexpected way. Even the best submitted to fear and fatigue. But God understood His heart. He knew that even through the most tumultuous time of his life, the best knew and understood that he needed One who is better than any human best.
“He shall call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honour him.” Ps 91:15
Sister T Nkomo