It's been a rough couple of weeks around here- we've had so many ups and downs lately that sometimes I don't know which way is up or down.
I was needing a little encouragement last night and Taya was needing a good nights sleep (two things that have been hard to come by lately) so after we put Isaiah to bed, we crawled into bed a little early too and I read some of my favorite bible stories to her. It seems like anytime I'm feeling like circumstances are mounting all around me and life is bigger than I can handle, I turn to this same passage: 1 Kings 17-19.
I find myself relating to Elijah (and Peter) more than anyone else in the bible- He seems to go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows...
A couple of encouraging things that we noticed as we were reading- First, God cared for Elijah's physical needs in different/strange ways: In chapter 17 he uses Ravens and a small stream, then he uses a poor widowed woman who is about to die of starvation herself, then in chapter 19 he sends an angel to take care of him. It's a good reminder to us that God is not limited in the ways he can provide-and that God could be glorified in our lives through something as simple as providing a loaf of bread in various ways.
Next, Elijah prayed and called down fire from heaven-and it happened, then he prayed for it to rain after three years of drought-and it happened, then he went to the desert and had a little bout with depression. To me this just validates the fact that humans are weak and God is strong. The bible talks about it in James 5:16-17 (the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective...Elijah was a man just like us...He prayed earnestly...and it happened just like he had prayed it would...). I guess it's normal to find yourself down in the dumps from time to time, but if God can use a weak person to challenge kings, pray for a boy to be raised from the dead, and call down fire from heaven...I can trust Him to do something radical in my life.
Lastly, one little phrase caught our attention. It's mentioned a couple of times in chapter 17 and 18: "As surely as the Lord lives..." . Without a doubt, the most certain thing in Elijah's life was the fact that God is alive. That phrase also reminded me of being in Jerusalem and looking at the hills that surround the city. 3000 years ago a person was going through some turmoil of his own and took a look at those hills. When he saw them he took comfort and said "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore." ~Psalm 125:2. To him, God was as much of a sure thing as the hills surrounding Jerusalem were. He was so sure of it that he knew God would still be a sure thing thousands of years later.
We've seen the hills surrounding Jerusalem-they're real. We've seen Mount Carmel where Elijah rebuilt the altar-it's real too. And so we can say with confidence: "As surely as the Lord our God lives...we can trust God in the midst of the ups and downs."