Elijah sat in a dark cave brooding over the current state of affairs in Israel. He had rejoiced as he watched God’s power thunder from heaven onto Mount Carmel, validating the Almighty’s supremacy over man-made Baal. The long-awaited revival of Israel seemed imminent.
But that woman…
The word of one wicked woman toppled Elijah from mountain-top triumph to the valley of discouragement.
Despite witnessing the power of God, the Israelites allowed Jezebel, and her evil husband Ahab, to remain on the throne. The Israelites may have killed the prophets of Baal, but they had not overthrown their leaders. Because of their inaction, she now sought his life, and Elijah believed she would prevail.
His heart sank like lead. Why had the Lord called him? Why was he ever born? What was the point of sharing the truth if nobody wanted to listen?
He exhaled, shutting his eyes with pain as his head tilted back against the cave. Just then, a voice—the Lord’s voice—spoke to him:
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah’s heart pricked with anguish as he replied, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
The Lord called him out of the cave. Elijah rose slowly and walked to the opening. As God passed by, there was a great wind, but the Lord was not in the wind. A great earthquake rocked the very ground on which Elijah stood, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Softly, as though floating on a breeze came a still, small voice.
God asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah repeated his earlier statement, still trembling from the force and might of the Lord he served. Even as he spoke to the Lord of heaven and earth, even as he recognized the power of Almighty God, he ached with heaviness.
The Lord knew Elijah needed encouragement, so he provided him with a mission: “Go… anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place…Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
God reminded Elijah of two important truths:
- God is God, and He is Ominpotent—more powerful than the Queen or any other human on earth.
- God is Omniscient and Omnipresent—we are not. God knows who loves Him at all times because He is everywhere at all times.
When the leadership is wicked and few seem to stand for God, we too may find ourselves in a cave of doubt. We know the Lord has called us to share His word, but it feels as though nobody will listen. We know the power of our God, but nobody else seems to recognize it. We feel, as Elijah did, “O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” We long to go home and be with Jesus, wearied as we are by the darkness permeating this life.
In our despair and doubt, we cry, “I alone am left!”
Noah surely felt this way as he preached for a hundred years and watched as only his family boarded the ark.
Moses likely felt this as he clutched the ten commandments to his chest, indignantly witnessing apostasy of the Israelites as they worshipped a golden calf fashioned by Moses’ own brother.
Jeremiah felt this as he lamented over the destruction of his people.
There are moments when we may be tempted to brood in the cave of doubt, but remember, the Lord knows those who are His. We may not know about our sister in Christ in India, quietly teaching her children the way of the Lord, while all her acquaintances serve Vishnu. We may be ignorant of Christians worshipping secretly within communist China. We are only vaguely aware of the dedication of Christian men and women living beneath the shadow of sharia law, knowing they will likely face death when they openly choose Christ over Mohammed.
When we cry, “I alone am left,” we unwittingly negate the efforts of our brothers and sisters around the world who are also fighting the good fight of faith. Jesus said there will again be a time like the days of Noah. Someday, the believers will be fewer than they are now. No matter how bad it gets, trust in the Lord and pray for your brothers and sisters throughout the world to hold fast to their faith.
Don’t allow the lies of your emotions dictate your thoughts; allow truth to dictate your actions.
Don’t negate the good work of other faithful Christians in a moment of loneliness and discouragement.
The Lord knows all those who are His, and His word does not return to Him void.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
~ Isaiah 55.10-11, ESV