There is a wonderful story in the Old Testament book of IKings about Elijah the prophet; the story offers valuable insight for these stressful days.
Chapter 19 describes Elijah as having a major league bad day. He had been opposing the evil ways of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and after doing his very best to be faithful to his calling, he is now running for his life.
Queen Jezebel has sworn to kill him.
He flees into the desert and rests under a juniper tree, praying that he might die. Then he hides in a cave. He reminds God how hard he has worked and shares his frustration over his current circumstances.
He says to God, “I am the only faithful one left. I have had enough. I am tired. Just take my life.” In other words, “I am done!”
What I find instructive for us is what God would not allow him to do and what God commanded him to do.
Instead of allowing Elijah to sit under the tree and hide in a cave, God tells him to get up and get busy. Elijah is, then, given instructions that move him out of his self-appointed victim's role and push him back out with a plan as to what was still expected of him.
Even though Elijah had every right to feel sorry for himself and go into hiding, that is not what he was allowed to do. He was given a few minutes to wallow in pity for himself and then he was pushed back out into the world because there was much to do. Incidentally, the way God pushed Elijah back out into the world is not a unique experience.
These are days when many of you have good reason to say, “That's it. I have had enough. I have done my best and look where it has gotten me! I am done.”
If you are feeling that way, you have plenty of company.
These are challenging days and there is enough daily discouragement to make us want to assume a victim's role, become passive and just call it quits. No one could blame you. Yet, that is absolutely the wrong choice to make. Once we permanently camp under the juniper tree, we will cease to see the options that still remain as a part of everyday experience. If options are not evident, create some. Make a plan and act on it. Even a bad plan is better than no plan at all.
The best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and our community is to come out of our cave. Author Charles Swindoll wrote, “The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.”
Regardless of our circumstances and degree of challenge, the worst thing we can do is to become passive. God did not allow Elijah to become a permanent victim and, if we are lucky, God will not allow us to remain in that role.
Whether you are suffering from the economy, from personal struggles or from challenges within your family, do not stay under the juniper tree.
If you don't have a plan, make one. You can always adjust.