Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 19, 2009

When the Going Gets Tough

 

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with things that life hands you? I guess it goes without saying that we all go through some pretty tough times. Life can be hard!

 

Earlier this week I attended a funeral where three grown daughters paid tribute to their Dad. Although saddened by his passing, they truly celebrated his life with stories, laughter, and music. In spite of the sad occasion there was an undercurrent of joy over the life they had shared with their Dad as well as a peace that he was now in heaven with his Savior.

 

I have another friend who has been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Although I know her road is not easy right now, she is facing her battle with quiet determination, her trust firmly planted in her Lord.

 

You know people, too, who are battling the tough things in life – horrific accidents, illness, death of loved ones, lost jobs, broken homes, missed opportunities, on and on. It has been said that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But sometimes we don’t know where to go or what to do. So what do we do then?

  

The Bible tells about Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of Israel. He performed many miracles, one of the greatest of which was his contest with the prophets of Baal and Asherah to determine the one true God. Each would prepare an offering on wood with no fire under it. Then they would call upon their gods to send fire and consume the offering. The Scriptures tell us that the false prophets called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, “…but there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.” (1 Kings 18:29). Elijah rebuilt the altar, laid the sacrifice on the wood, poured four waterpots of water over the sacrifice three times, and then he prayed. God sent fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice and even licked up the water in the trench. Now the people knew that the Lord was God. Elijah ordered that all the false prophets be killed.

 

Not everyone was pleased with Elijah’s victory, however. Queen Jezebel planned revenge against Elijah because of his slaughter of the false prophets. So what did Elijah do? He ran! Although he had just experienced a marvelous victory and knew that God was capable of handling this threat against his life, he ran. The Bible tells us he went into the wilderness and sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life.” (1 Kings 19:4). Elijah probably was more tired and discouraged than he was scared. Even after God’s show of power, things were pretty much the same. Here he was running for his life. He was disheartened and disappointed and one thing was sure. He had had enough!

 

It’s comforting to me to know that when a great prophet like Elijah can become discouraged, that God must surely understand when I become discouraged. God heard Elijah’s prayer, but He didn’t do what Elijah asked. Instead, he first sent an angel who took care of Elijah’s physical needs. When we are going through tough times, often we do not take care of ourselves as we should. This is so touching to me that God is not just concerned with the big picture of where He wants to send us, or what He wants us to do. He is concerned with where we are now and what we’re going through. He cares for us in the midst of our tough times.

 

After God ministered to Elijah’s physical needs, Elijah traveled to Mount Horeb and spent the night in a cave. That night the Lord spoke to Elijah again and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  Elijah poured out his heart to God. He exclaimed that he was the only one left who was faithful to God and that they were trying to take his life.

 

I Kings 19:11-12 tells what the Lord did next. “Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”  It was in the still, small voice that Elijah heard God. In the stillness and quietness Elijah found clear instruction as to the next steps he should take. Elijah discovered that he was not alone, but that God had been busy working in the lives of other people as well.

 

Sometimes when we are going through tough times, we may turn and run like Elijah did. We may tell God what we want Him to do rather than listen for His direction. We may look for God in ways we’ve seen Him move before or in ways that we have seen him move in the lives of others. But just as God didn’t speak in the wind, thunder, or fire to Elijah, He may not speak to us in those same ways that we have experienced before. Isaiah 43:18-19 states “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” God is an all-powerful, all-wise God, whose ways are unfathomable.

 

When the going gets tough, we need to seek God first. Isaiah 30:15 states “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’” We need to trust our burden to Him, listen for Him, and wait. It is this trust and faith that can give us joy in the midst of sorrow and courage and determination even when we may be fearful. When the going gets tough, the tough get on their knees!

 

Further Study: 1 Kings 18-19

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