I was reading in I Kings 17-19 about Elijah the prophet. In one chapter, he prays and God sends a drought that last for years. In another part, God uses ravens to bring him food each day. Then a widow woman gives up her final meal to feed him. She is rewarded with the resurrection of her son when he died and unending flour and oil. Elijah then challenges the prophets of the god Baal to a showdown. After proving that his God was real and Baal wasn’t, he had them killed. He then prayed to end the drought and it rained again. When he got back to town Jezebel threatened to kill him and he ran away.
He went on a 40 day journey to the mountain of God. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and fell asleep. In verse 9 of I Kings 19, God said, “So Elijah, what are you doing here?” His response was that he had been doing everything he could for God, the people of Israel had abandoned God and they wanted to kill him because he was the only prophet left. I don’t think that was the answer God was looking for. Every other time that he had been in trouble, God had met him where he was and provided for him. Why was this time different?
Instead of waiting to hear where God wanted him to go, as had been how things went in previous chapters, Elijah set out on his own to find God. He left where God had him and asked him to go. I didn’t read where God told him to run from Jezebel. He just did it out of human emotion. So when he arrived at the mountain of God, He wanted to know why he was there and not where He had told him to be. Why do any of us leave the place God has us just because things aren’t happening the way we thought the should? Why do we run from difficult circumstances to where we think God is instead of facing them head on in the place we’re called?
That reminds me of Job’s response to his wife when everything bad was happening to him. He was where God had him and lost everything he owned and his children. Soon after that, he lost his health. His wife told him to just curse God and die. Instead of running away from the problems that were going on in his life and cursing God, he asked her a question. In Job 2:10, he said, “We take the good days from God – why not the bad?” We are quick to accept good days from God, but when things stop going our way, we start questioning his judgement or run away. We try to find the place where we know God is hoping to find shelter and rest. We aren’t always prepared for God to ask, “Why are you here?”
God sent Elijah back to Israel with instructions on what to do next. He didn’t let him camp out in that cave until Jezebel died or things blew over. God knows it’s easy to trust him on the good days and when things are going as planned. It’s when they aren’t so good or not going as planned that we really learn what trust is and our faith grows. I’d rather stay where God had me and face difficult times than to have to answer the difficult question of, “Why are you here and not where I had you?” I’d rather stay where He has me and let Him provide during the droughts of life. I want to be thankful for the good days and accepting of the bad.
4 responses to “Why Are You Running Away?”
Deeply probing and a great verse from Job.
I can’t get that question or Job’s response out of my head.
Chris this is a very important point. Too often we preach that if you find Jesus your life will be wonderful. Yet we still live in a fallen world and at times God has to let us struggle a bit to get our attention. I always think about Paul. He passionately followed Jesus and he was shipwrecked more than once, bitten by a poisonous snake, stoned and left for dead, imprisoned and eventually beheaded. I know Paul was human but he seemed to have found a peace that on God can give. A peace that sees us through the good and the bad times.
Thanks for bringing up Paul. He’s a great example of someone who had his share of bad days. A lot of The New Testament was written while he was in prison. He even said God gave him a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. I also think of Philippians 4:12 where he said, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. (NLT)”. That secret was being content in the circumstances God had him in.