In the midst of all the chaos and confusion going on in the world right now, it’s easy to lose sight of what God has planned. We know He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, and we know that His light will prevail over the enemy’s darkness. But right now… it’s hard to envision how and when that will take place. When things are going well, it’s easier to see God’s goodness. But relying on God when faith is all you have left… that’s when our faith can grow in ways we never imagined possible.
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…The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. – James 5:16-18
When it hasn’t rained in a long while…
Three years and six months. It had been three years and six months since any rain had fallen upon the earth. Now it was time for Elijah to pray for rain… and not just a little rain, but a heavy downpour. It took great faith to pray that it wouldn’t rain, and now he had to stand in faith that it would.
Now Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” – 1 Kings 18:41
Was there an actual roar? If so, did everyone hear it or just Elijah? Or perhaps he was speaking in faith concerning what he knew God was about to do. Either way, the amount of faith required to tell your enemy (Ahab) that heavy rain was coming after 3 1/2 years of drought is incredible. (And in verse 42, Ahab does as he is told so Elijah must have spoken with some serious conviction!)
When you are relying on God’s promise…
Elijah wasn’t blindly believing for God to do something random. He was choosing to stand firm in His promise.
Now it happened after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will provide rain on the face of the earth.” – 1 Kings 18:1 (emphasis added)
God told Elijah that it was time for it to rain once again. Ultimately, Elijah knew that God was in control. And if God said it was time for rain… it was time for rain. Now, God could have simply caused the rain without Elijah’s involvement, but God wove Elijah into His plan. In the same way, He weaves us into His plans today.
God wants us to believe in His promises. He wants us to keep praying, and to never lose sight of the fact that He is faithful.
When all you see in a small cloud…
…But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bent down to the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, but he said, “There is nothing.” Yet Elijah said, “Go back” seven times. And when he returned the seventh time, he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a person’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And Elijah said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Harness your chariot horses and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.'” Meanwhile the sky became dark with clouds and wind came up, and there was a heavy shower…. – 1 Kings 18:42-45 (emphasis added)
Elijah had God’s promise. There would not only be rain, but it would be heavy rain. There was just one problem… there were no clouds in sight. Can you imagine? There had been no rain for over three years. The famine caused by the drought was severe.
Seven times, Elijah told his servant to go back and check for signs of rain. Finally… a small cloud appeared, and that was enough for Elijah. From there, he told his servant to warn Ahab of the imminent downpour.
Holding on to God’s promises can be difficult in seasons of drought. It can be even more difficult when there are no signs pointing to a promise’s fulfillment. But if there’s one thing this story has taught me, it’s that I don’t “go back” enough. Over and over, the servant expectantly checked for clouds. Why didn’t God just send a cloud the first time? Wouldn’t that have been easier? Sure it would have.
But would their faith in God have had the same opportunity to grow?
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.