For what? – July 29, 2018
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.”
I Kings 19:4
The prophet Elijah was no wimp. He championed the message of God to a people who had turned against him. He challenged 400 priests of Baal to a showdown about who truly is God—and then he killed them. He confronted an evil king and queen that vowed to take his life.
Elijah had served his God and his nation with faith and fury. Now the conviction and passion are gone. Now we see him disgusted, discouraged, and depressed.
“I have had enough, LORD!”
Why feel defeated after so much success? The answer lies in something we can relate to. Disheartened Elijah was asking himself, “For what?”
The same question has been asked by troops returning from places where they worked feverishly to carry out their missions, risked their very lives, and saw comrades fall. Coming home, it seemed America didn’t care. And the people they had protected were still at risk.
Wasn’t it Jesus who said that wars and rumors of wars will take place until the end of time? So, what’s the use of confronting enemies? Why risk one’s life when there will be no end of war?
For that matter, will any of our efforts accomplish something that will last? Won’t we, and most everything else, turn to dust? All of our hard work and planning: “For what?”
The Lord God shocked Elijah out of his misery by asking: “What are you doing here Elijah?”
No self-pity allowed! No attempt to convince him that he had accomplished much good. In the same way that a sergeant may straighten out the complaining private, so God informs Elijah, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You have a mission to accomplish. Get going!”
He commanded Elijah: “Go back the way you came…” “Anoint Hazael king over Aram.” “Anoint Jehu king over Israel.” “Anoint Elisha to succeed you as prophet.”
And then, because Elijah had said he was the only one left being faithful to the Lord, he was told: “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (I Kings 19:18).
The Savior God is still in control. His will certainly will be done. His kingdom will come. We are not God. We have no way of knowing what all is taking place. Our vision is limited. Our judgment is flawed.
His strength overruns our weakness. His victory wipes out our failures.
Faithful service is never for nothing.
If we find we are still stationed on earth, we have a purpose here and work to do before we PCS to heaven.
We know what we are living for. We live for the Lord God.
Prayer: Because we are weak and sometimes weary; because our vision is limited; because our faith sometimes falters; sometimes we grow discouraged and even depressed. Reach down to help us, heavenly Father. As you did for Elijah, so remind us of your presence and our purpose in life. Open our eyes to see your glory and open our hearts to accept your love. Use us in service to your kingdom. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.