So he said, “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.” 1 Kings 19:10
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah has reached the end of his rope. He was under a death threat from Jezebel. He lived in a culture with total disregard for God and wanton disrespect for His messengers. He felt utterly isolated and exhausted. God tenderly provided for Elijah’s physical needs of food and rest. Then God asked Elijah to stand before him. A great wind, an earthquake, and a fire passed by, but God was not in any of those. Instead, He manifested Himself in a still, small voice. God told Elijah the rest of the story. There were seven thousand in Israel, whose knees have not bowed to Baal. He was not alone. Not only that God was ready to take action.
It is not unusual to turn on the television and come away discouraged. It is easy to read the statistics about Millennials or Generation Y or Z, about trends in morality or thoughts on faith and walk away shaken and dismayed. The kingdom of God seems to be losing ground on every measurable front. Church attendance is down. Religious identification is slipping. Influence is bottoming out. Social scientists regularly discuss the post-Christian West.
Persecution, violence, hatred, conflict, oppression, and despair fill our news feeds to the point where sometimes a “fast” is in order just to prevent a complete overload. And if you don’t happen to be serving in a vibrant, growing community of faith, there is a tendency to weariness and frustration.
But sometimes in the face of all those situations, God shows you the rest of the story.
This past weekend, we took my son on a college visit to a small Bible college. Three hundred other prospective students were there, all of them anxious to embrace the call of God on their lives and eager to gain the necessary knowledge and experience to fulfill that call. They would join a student body of four times that many. And there are colleges like this across the country, full of faithful, energetic young men and women, all dedicated to advancing the kingdom of God. The battle is hardly lost.
When we focus on the wind and the earthquake and the fire … we can miss what God has been quietly doing all along. We can miss the rest of the story.