When Life Does Not Deliver

“Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there” (1 Kings 19:3).

Elijah lived anything but a predictable life. He enjoyed mammoth spiritual triumphs, but also faced the wrath of man. Sometimes he braved it with an unwavering faith, but at other times, he responded in fear or self-pity. The victories he witnessed did not always prove lasting. He set lofty goals and fully expected Baal worship to be eliminated from Israel. He faced down Ahab and hundreds of his false prophets, but then fled from Ahab’s conniving wife Jezebel. This gave way to fear and pessimism. Eventually God taught him more about the nature of his battle: it would not be won overnight.

What about us? Have we experienced defeat on the heels of victory? Have we seen the finish line within reach, only to stumble and fall down prior to victory? Have we felt cheated out of a life we promised ourselves, and retreated in bitterness and defeat? How can we straighten out our sometimes crooked thinking?

1. Recognize that God is always at work regardless of outward appearances.
Elijah supposed that all was lost when Jezebel aggressively sought to end his life. He must have imagined all his good efforts went down the drain and very little remained. But remember, God works at all times; even through apparent defeat. When we fail to climb the job ladder at a rapid pace, we forget that God may have something far better for us. When our attempts at finding a meaningful relationship seem to go sour, we should not conclude we will never find love.

2. We rarely read outcomes with accuracy.
Most of us measure success by what we immediately see. But God does not always work that way. God’s grace is often displayed by demonstrating His power in and through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God also does not abide by our personal timetables. Just as He works in accord with His own purposes, He also unfolds His plans in His own time. We need to trust in Him when all appearances indicate we hit rock bottom. God will lead us into His perfect will as we trust in Him.

3. God writes the conclusion to the story.
In this life, the righteous often lose out on the so-called rewards of this life. They do not reach the fame or accolades of others. But they need not despair. God will write all conclusions to the story, including our personal stories.

Elijah demonstrated heroic type faith during most of his ministry. But like us, he was not immune from the emotional weight of opposition and struggle. When we face these things, we should walk by faith and not by sight, trusting in the One who can and will make all things right in His own time.

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