Elijah abandoned his calling, ran in fear, and wallowed in self-pity, yet God neither rebuked nor forsook him. He restored him gently, graciously recommissioning him to His service. Such is God’s mercy to His failed servants. He restores us graciously through the One who secured our ultimate restoration on the cross.
Pity parties are easy to throw, especially when we feel alone and discouraged. But God does not leave us to wallow in our self-pity. He asks probing questions that get to the heart of our sin and self-focus, reorienting us to the One who was shown no pity so that He might reconcile us to God.
Everyone has their physical, emotional, and spiritual breaking point. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah had reached his. Alone and exhausted, he lay down under a tree and asked the Lord to end his life. But under that tree Elijah found grace, ultimately through the One who would go to another tree, alone and exhausted, and willingly give up His life not in despair, but in faith so that others might find their life in Him.
Jonathan Edwards, the leading pastor-theologian of the First Great Awakening, teaches us that prayer is an essential ingredient for the revival of believers and the conversion of the lost in expanding the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. He exhorts us to be eager and determined in our prayer lives as we seek God and the increase of his kingdom.
Even in the worst circumstances, God opens windows of opportunity for His grace to be seen. For a brief moment, Elijah had the chance to lead wicked king Ahab in covenantal obedience, anticipating the far greater King who would perfectly obey for our salvation. How will we respond when God opens a window for us to point others to Christ? How will we respond when we are the ones in need of redirection?
The gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost revolutionized the lives and ministry of God’s people. Rather than remaining geographically and ethnically centered in Jerusalem, they were empowered by God to serve as Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. This revolution is still going on through every believer who proclaims the risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ ascension into heaven may be the most neglected cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith. While His incarnation, life, death, and resurrection all feature prominently in our thinking (as they should!), His ascension is often completely forgotten. But Acts 1 teaches us that far from being a secondary event, Jesus’ ascension was an unparalleled exaltation that fueled the life, worship, and witness of the Church for centuries to come, and that continues to fuel the lives of everyone who looks to Him for grace.
God often leads us to the end of our rope, but only to show us that our rope is a poor substitute for His grace. Both Elijah and the widow of Zarephath faced dire circumstances, but only so that they might increasingly rely on the covenantal God who sustains us through His life-giving word that speaks of His life-giving Son.