Within just a few sentences of being introduced as the great prophet Elijah, we find him isolated by the brook known as Chereth (pronounced Ka-reth). This colorful prophet who became a powerful instrument of God is first hated and sought after by the wicked King and Queen of Israel. A place where he had to be fed by the birds who brought him his meals twice a day. What an entrance into ministry for him. 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 there were questions plaguing his mind. 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 God care? Why are my circumstances as they are when I am destined for greatness?
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 a 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 dried up creek.
It seems that on the journey towards our destiny we all 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. Instead, you are facing your brook experience of loneliness, confusion or the feeling of irrelevance. Perhaps as a young mother, your “brook” is the duties of nurturing or caring for your family in what feels like obscurity.
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.
1) 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.” If you are not a person who has by faith trusted in the Lord for salvation he is standing in the shadows waiting for an invitation from you to join you. God lives near the brook!
2) 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.
3) Remember these moments are not forever.
The reality is that in every one 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. Verse 8 of chapter 17 in I Kings says, “The word of the Lord came to him.” It is often in our darkest moments that we will hear God speak. Keep listening for his voice.
4) Remember the “brook” always precedes the “blessing.”
Don’t despise the brook.