Within just a few sentences of being introduced to the great prophet Elijah we find him isolated, alone and siting by a brook. This colorful prophet who became a powerful instrument of God was first hated and sought after by the wicked King and Queen of Israel. His earliest assignment was a place where he had to be fed by the birds who brought him his meals twice a day. What an entrance into ministry. Attempting to do what God had spoken he found himself afraid and alone. To make matters worse due to the severity of the drought, his only source of water dried up.
I am sure he had questions. What about my future? I thought I was doing the work that God wanted me to do? Why am I suffering when I believed this was my calling? Does God know where I am? Does anyone where I am? Does God care? Does anyone care? Is this my destiny?
Elijah isn’t the last person to ask these questions. As I study history and the lives of people who have made a difference in this world it seems they have all at one time or another been left by a dried up “brook”. Although they know they have calling to do something significant the twist and turns of life leave them in a difficult place. Show me a successful person and I will show you someone who has wept beside a dry creek-bed.
It seems that on the journey towards fulfilling God’s call we often find ourselves in a place of hardship. Perhaps you are someone who wants to have a successful business and you can even envision what it might be, but today you are wrestling with cash flow problems, troubled employees or a lack of work. Maybe you are a retired person who has dreamed and saved for the joy and fruitfulness of retirement. Only to be facing your brook experience, loneliness, confusion or the feeling of irrelevance. Perhaps as a young mother your “brook” is the duties of nurturing or caring for your family where the demands are greater than the returns. As a missionary you may be sitting thousands of miles from home with these questions. Many a pastor has labored in obscurity with the eerie silence of a dried up brook.
Today I want to encourage us all that long before God can trust us with success, possessions or people he must first prove our character in failure and difficulty. If you find yourself today sitting alone beside a dried up brook here are some things to remember.
Remember that you are never actually alone. God who created you and has called you to live out his will in this world is with his children in the most difficult of times. As a child of God he is living within you through the Holy Spirit and you have this promise that he will “never leave you nor forsake you”. It to the brook that the Lord directed him, by the brook that the Lord provided for him and at the brook that the Lord spoke clearly to him.
Remember these moments are the preparation for the next. The lessons learned and embraced in the times we often regret are some of the greatest lessons we will ever learn. There is a biblical principle that is true at every stage of life. “If we are faithful over a few things (in the lean times) the Lord will make us ruler over many”. In other words what we do when things are hard and no one is looking will determine how much we can be trusted in the future.
Remember these moments are not forever. The reality is that in everyone of our lives there are times of difficulty, times of obscurity, times of pain and tears. Be assured that these are not your destiny. Keep doing what the Lord has commanded you to do. Keep doing what is right. Keep believing in the plan God has for your life. Keep listening for the voice of the Lord.
It was in Elijah’s darkest moment that he began to hear the word of the Lord again. God knows where the brook is and he speaks clearly by it. “The word of the Lord came to him” (I Kings 17:8) It is often in our darkest moments that we will hear God speak. Keep listening for his voice. Remember the brook always precedes the blessing. Don’t despise the brook.