1 Kings 19:1-18 – What A Stomach Virus in Haiti Will Teach You!

Posted: March 4, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 19:1-18

Elijah Flees to Sinai

In the previous chapter, things are looking pretty good for Elijah. Let’s recap. In the confrontation with the prophets of Baal, he was so confident that God would deliver that Elijah doused the altar and the wood with water. Then God shows up and a great fire burns up the sacrifice, the altar, and all the water! Then Elijah takes all the prophets of Baal and destroys them and then he prays all afternoon and God finally delivers rain. A huge rain storm appears and the three-year drought is broken! If this were a movie it would be the grand climax where the hero goes against all odds and defeats the enemy. Cue the victory music. We all cheer! Elijah is like the Rambo of biblical prophets! He defeats 450 men and has victory!

At this point Elijah is feeling pretty good. The victory is his. God is avenged. Life makes sense. He’s done everything he was supposed to do. Then it happens. A messenger comes to him. “Excuse me, Elijah, sir. Um, Jezebel sends a message. Well, she’s really mad, and she has vowed to kill you, at all costs.” What?! That was not how it was supposed to go. This was the point where the nation was supposed to turn back to God and the wicked queen overthrown. Elijah becomes fearful and takes off, running for his life.

Have you ever followed God’s call and then things did not turn out like you thought they would? Although we are not talking physical issues but rather spiritual ones, I think there is a personal experience with a physical ailment that kind of helps get us to the point for today. About 7 or 8 years ago, Elena and I went on our first international mission trip. It was to Jacmel, Haiti. Our previous church in South Carolina had a connection with a church down there (through our association with Restore Haiti). So we go on our first mission trip. It was such an amazing trip. Not because we made such an impact on the families associated with the local church there but because they made such an impact on us. It was that mission trip that changed everything for us. After that trip, we grew so much in our relationships with Jesus and in our service to Him.

The following summer we were ready to go again. The first trip to Haiti had made such a monumental impression upon us that we wanted to go back. But this second time, we were there for only two days before we contracted this stomach virus that knocked us completely down for three days. We missed half the mission trip basically. We did not leave our rooms at the local hotel at all for those three days. When we were not sleeping from weakness, we were in the bathroom evacuating whatever was in our colons. Add to that, during the day, the power would go off in Jacmel so the temperature in our room would reach well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Puking, diarrhea, sweating, and being so weak just drained us to the core. It was a horrible experience. Nothing like our first trip to Jacmel at all. We were able to recover somewhat and get out with the team for the tail end of the mission trip, but we will forever remember that second mission trip for the stomach virus rather than any spiritual growth that occurred while we were there. We searched for meaning for that trip for a long time.

I thought of that second mission trip to Haiti when I read about Elijah running for his life. In both instances, you are doing what God called you to do, but things seemed to take a turn for the worse. I am sure Elijah was now wondering what the whole point of his ministry was now that he was running for his life. Let’s read about it now in 1 Kings 19:1-18:

Chapter 19

When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai,[a] the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied again, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

15 Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16 Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi[b] to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. 17 Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! 18 Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”

In this passage, we see that Elijah had done what God called him to do. But yet, things seemed to take a turn for the worse because he had. Nothing changed in Israel and he was on the run for his life. That’s the thing that we must learn is that when we follow God and his call on our lives, it may not turn out like we planned it. It may actually make our lives tougher. He never, ever told us that following Him would make our lives easier. It is in these times that we must grow more dependent on Him. It is in these times that we must learn that our service to Him is not contingent on our circumstances. No matter what we are going through, we must trust that God has a purpose in it and that it will prepare us for what is next in his plan.

If you have followed God’s call on your life, you can anticipate that you will have some hardship at some point. There are going to be instances where you are not successful. There are going to be instances where you fail. There are going to be instances where you are simply not going to be situations where you are not going to be the cat’s meow. There are going to be situations where you wonder what the point of the whole deal is. That’s where we must overcome fear and doubt and trust in the Lord.

I think that was the ultimate lesson of that second mission trip to Haiti for us. It was in that hotel room where we were just laid out from a stomach virus where nothing went as planned and things actually were worse than anticipated on the front end of the trip that we learned something. It was that hardships will come. Not every experience with God is going to be a mountaintop experience. Sometimes, what we do for God will turn out to be a mighty endeavor just to survive. It is in these times, we learn to lean into God. We learn to make God a part of our total life experience. Some of us only see God when we need something. Some of us only see God in the good times. We must learn that he has a purpose for everything under heaven. It was in that hotel room in Haiti that I began to learn that. At the time, it was about survival but it was a lesson nonetheless.

So many of us want our spiritual life to be all mountaintop experiences. We want “that feeling”. What we must learn is that we will have hard times and it is in those hard times that we must make the mental choice to trust God with the purpose of it and pray that He will reveal that purpose to us. We must trust that He is preparing us for what’s next by what we go through now.

Amen and Amen.

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