Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

I Kings 19:1-9 (NIV) ~

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 

He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank.

Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.  There he went into a cave and spent the night.

Elijah had just seen the Lord perform a stunning miracle and defeat the prophets of Baal.  He should have been celebrating this victory.  But the moment he hears of Jezebel's threat, he hightails it for the wilderness, sits down under a bush and prays that God would allow him to die.

It is so easy for us to look at Elijah with scorn and think, "What is wrong with this guy?"  But as I read this passage this morning another thing jumped out at me.  God has compassion on him.  He cares for his physical needs.  He knows that Elijah is reacting this way because he is exhausted and hungry.

This is encouraging to me as a follower of Christ because I am extremely hard on myself at times.  I get so upset when I know that I've seen God's hand on my life in so many ways and yet, at times, I still react like Elijah when faced with a new trial.

But the Lord is merciful.  He knows we are weak and frail.  He is compassionate.  And so often he meets our physical needs so that our spirits will also be refreshed.  That is encouraging to me.  God created us body and spirit and he knows us intimately. 

God sent an angel to provide Elijah with food so he would have strength to continue his journey.  He gave him exactly what he needed to encourage him.  He provided sustenance so that Elijah could keep moving forward.  And the Lord does the same for us. 

When you are weak and the most vulnerable, He always provides what you need to keep you moving forward.  He gives you the encouragement that is necessary for you to put one foot in front of the other.  More importantly, He has compassion and mercy on you when you falter.  He doesn't rain down condemnation.  He provides the gentle nudging you need to keep going.

What a wonderful God we serve!