Life is never all just one thing, is it? It’s always a mixed bag, and so often the highs and lows seem to overlap, which can leave us feeling shaken up and uncertain of ourselves. In the midst of confusing or challenging circumstances, it’s easy to feel all alone or to wonder where God is. The prophet Elijah knew exactly what this was like, but God met Elijah right where he was at…and Jesus offers the same love and intimate care to each and every one of us. In this weekend’s message, witness the beauty of being truly human and the power of God to show up when we feel overwhelmed!
1. Don’t be afraid
1 Kings 19:1-10
- Life has extreme highs and lows, sometimes in rapid succession. Sometimes our greatest victories come right after our worst moments. Other times, our most exciting moments are followed by our greatest failures. We always learn both who we are and who God is as we go through the ups and downs of celebration and suffering.
- In 1 Kings 19, we find Elijah, on the heels of a great victory, fleeing for his life from the evil Queen Jezebel. Elijah, who was so bold in chapter 18, is now terrified and exhausted. It’s as if he’s forgotten the great victory he just watched God perform. Elijah, like all of us, is just human, and the Lord shows he is unashamed of Elijah’s fear.
- We have a tendency to think the great victory of yesterday is enough to sustain us for today, but the Lord knows that we need to be sustained by him every day.
- Even if our circumstances don’t change much, we can experience those highs and lows internally. Brene Brown calls this the “vulnerability hangover” –– feelings of shame that set in right after a huge moment of honesty and victory. Life is not always steady, and it is always emotional.
What are your biggest areas of fear in life? What are you afraid of right now? How are you responding to God in the midst of your fear? And through your current life circumstances, what are you learning about God and about yourself?
2. Encounter Jesus in stillness
1 Kings 19:11-18
- After forty days and nights of fasting in the wilderness, Elijah hears from God again. Initially, this encounter with God is characterized by external chaos: wind, fire, and an earthquake. After all of these things pass, Elijah encounters the still, small voice of God. God is reminding Elijah of something very simple but important: to encounter him in stillness.
- It’s important to notice that what God says after the chaos is exactly what he said before it all began. In our lives, we often want to see God arrive in miraculous power. Maybe we have been waiting for God to speak to us in an earthquake, when he’s been whispering to us all along.
- God tells Elijah he has work for him to finish. Sometimes God tells us to “go back” to what he has already asked us to do. Sometimes a step backward can be based in fear, but other times, God tells us to “go back” so that we can obey his original command and set things right.
How is God trying to get your attention? What is he saying to you in this season of your life? Is there any area of your life in which God is calling you to “go back” to what you know he has called you to?
3. Find a friend like this
1 Kings 19:19-21
- One of the tasks that God gives Elijah is to raise up Elisha as his successor. At Elijah’s moment, he told God multiple times how alone he felt, and God heard him. God’s answer was to give him someone to share the load. They were stronger as a team than they were as individuals.
- Often we love people until they challenge us, but really the best of friends do that naturally. The best friends don’t just want us to be happy. They want us to be all that God created us to be, and that means that the best friends challenge us, in love.
- Just like Elisha, we all need someone further along the path to pour into us. As we learn from their walk with God, it becomes our responsibility to pour into someone else.
- In spiritual friendships, you don’t just do fun things together (although that’s great), but you pour into one another and challenge one other to grow in Christ and lead others.
Do you have both an Elijah and an Elisha in your circle of friends? How can you cultivate deeper spiritual friendships in your life? How do you need to allow others to join you on your journey of faith?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?