What Is God Doing? How to Find Hope When All Seems Lost
Inside: You know those moments in life when you feel like all hope is lost? They may be massively difficult circumstances or minor bumps that mess with your day. What is God doing? Two surprising things God might be doing that could turn your day and your life around.
I am bursting at the seams to share this devotion with you! Have you had those moments in life when you feel like all hope is lost? They may be massively difficult circumstances or minor bumps that mess with your day.
- You’ve prayed and prayed (and prayed and prayed) and have yet to see an answer. What is God doing?
- You are beside yourself at a decision your child or a loved one has made. How could this happen?
- That coworker, friend, or relative grinds at your nerves day after day. Really, God?
How can we find hope when all seems lost?
Elijah, our fully surrendered prophet, had labored courageously for the Lord, and it seemed to him it was all for naught. Despite a resounding victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, the people had only temporarily turned to God.
Were all of Elijah’s efforts in vain?
Not only was he the only faithful believer left–or so he thought–but he was also a wanted man. Were he to be found by Queen Jezebel, he would be killed.
“I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:14 ESV)
Do you hear the “woe is me”? We’ve been there, right?
I find God’s reaction to Elijah’s downheartedness fascinating and very telling for our own lives.
God Gave Elijah Purpose
God did not give into Elijah’s “woe is me” mentality, but He also did not ignore it. In His divine care, He poured kingdom purpose into His worn-out faithful servant.
15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.
God gave Elijah purpose–jobs to do–and not just any ordinary tasks. Each task had specific purpose in God’s kingdom: God asked Elijah to anoint two kings and his very own apprentice.
When all hope seems lost, look for God’s purpose. Listen to hear what He is asking of you. Notice if He is putting a particular task in front of you to do, and especially listen to see if God has called you to a task that has kingdom purpose.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
God Helped Elijah See that He Was Not Alone
Elijah felt alone, and not just physically isolated. He felt spiritually alone, with no friends of like mind or companionship in the things of God. Ever felt that way? You may have experienced this isolation during a spiritual low (“I just don’t feel close to God”) or at a moment of spiritual awe (“Why is no one else excited about this great thing God is doing?”).
In those times, remember that God is always at work. Our feelings are not fact. Check out God’s spiritual fact-check for Elijah:
Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18 ESV)
Aha. Elijah was not even close to alone in his faith! In fact, 7,000 other Israelites had also not bowed to Baal and still served God and God alone. Furthermore, God promised to preserve them.
When all hope seems lost, what is God doing? He is doing a gazillion things that we don’t know about. Seek His voice, and you might find that (1) He is giving you a job to do in His kingdom, and (2) He wants to assure you that you are not alone.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)
Be sure to continue with the Digging Deeper questions below for more ideas on how to find hope when you cannot tell what God is doing. See the Extra Info for more information about the three tasks God asked Elijah to do.
Do you need help surrendering a situation to God? Click on one of these links to access a free printable of a Prayer of Surrender!
Digging into God’s Word: What Is God Doing?
Let God speak into your life through His word to Elijah. The first few verses will help you remember last week’s devotion, when God spoke to Elijah in a low whisper. Today, take note of how God cared for his discouraged prophet.
1 Kings 19:11-18 (ESV)
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
Digging Deeper: Finding Hope When All Seems Lost
Enjoy this time with the Lord! As you are able, reflect on these questions or journal your thoughts.
1. What do you learn about God in 1 Kings 19:11-18? How does this apply to your life at this time?
2. In 1 Kings 19:14-18, God gave Elijah kingdom tasks to do, and those tasks fit into God’s kingdom purposes. How does having a purpose from God help you? Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship, created to do works that God prepared for us to do. If you are walking with the Lord, there is no randomness to your life. Take time to listen for what works God might be asking you to do.
3. Ask God to broaden your perspective to understand all that God may be doing. What in these words from Priscilla Shirer do you find challenging or encouraging?
Whether or not you perceive Him [God] at work depends largely on whether you’re postured to “look, observe, be astonished, and wonder”–to be expectantly hopeful and eager for Him, believing He’s at work even when He seems distant.
Yes, ask Him your questions. How long, Lord? Why, Lord” But then immediately ask Him for vision to recognize where His providential hand is already at work. Your personal problem (though important, simply because it’s yours) is but a small sliver in the grand scope of all God is doing. (Discerning the Voice of God, p. 173)
4. God is so very faithful. Just as He did not abandon Elijah in the prophet’s times of fear and doubt, so He will not abandon us. Thank God for His faithfulness in your life, and then freely approach His throne with any prayer requests you have. Is there an area of life for which you’d like to ask God for direction? Pray about that now, asking God to help you trust Him and to help you surrender to Him. If you like, you can use the prayer of surrender below, or print out your free printable of it here (8.5 X 11 version, half-page version).
Dear Lord, I come to you now, in need of your wisdom and direction. I bring to you this situation [name it, describe it]. . . . I open my hands and my heart to hear from you [open your hands]. Help me to hear your voice clearly. . . . What you have asked me to do, help me to do with faith and courage. What you have asked me to release, help me to release to you and not grab back as if I know better than you. I surrender to your will. Give my feet your direction and my will your will instead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
5. If you like, use these songs to worship as you listen for what God is doing:
Overcomer (Mandisa, official video) C’mon, rock this song! You can be an overcomer because Christ lives in you.
Overcomer (Mandisa, lyric video)
Word of God Speak (MercyMe)
God I Look to You (Francesca Battistelli)
Thank you for the recent Shares! If you have found this devotion helpful, please like and Share so others can hear the good news, too!
To start this series from the beginning, click this link: Elijah: Fully Surrendered.
In 1 Kings 19:15-16, God asked Elijah to anoint three people. In fact, he only physically anointed one of them: Elisha. Later, Elisha actually anointed Hazael king over Aram and Jehu king over Israel. The most common interpretation is that these were extensions of Elijah’s anointing. A less common interpretation, but a possibility nonetheless, is that the lack of anointing was disobedience on Elijah’s part.
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