Elijah was a man who couldn’t seem to catch a break. He proclaimed drought throughout the land of Israel in 1 Kings 17, and is then sent by God to live by a brook while his countrymen starve. But then the brook dries up.
Then God sends him to live with a widow and her son, but after some miraculous provision, the son dies and the widow blames Elijah.
Then there’s Elijah’s famous confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, where Elijah literally calls fire down from heaven. The next day he’s running for his life from the murderous threats of Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab.
We see Elijah’s frustration come through as he is confronted by God in 1 Kings 19. God asks him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” His response sounds all too human, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
Sometimes, like Elijah, we thing we deserve a break. A little pity. “Throw me a bone here, God!” But sometimes, even when we do everything God has commanded us to do, we don’t get a break. Sometimes even the obedient suffer. And when that happens, often what is exposed is a deep seated belief that God owes us something, that we deserve something.
The truth is that we deserve nothing. We are called to serve the God who saved us. Suffering teaches us this. Like Elijah, we must learn that the victories in our lives are God’s, and not our own. We must get to that place of peace and security in God that seeks His will and not ours.
It’s not popular these days, but the words of our Savior still ring true, “When you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”