April 8, 2005
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. … For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. -Romans 8:19, 22
People in Israel were hurting. There had been no rain for several years, and they were beginning to wonder, “Why doesn’t God do something? Doesn’t he care about our troubles? Or maybe He has no power over the rain.” Every time something bad happens, people come to believe: Either God cares but He lacks power, or He has power but He doesn’t care. If He cares and has power, surely He wouldn’t let us suffer and He would send rain.
Elijah was one of God’s faithful prophets in the Old Testament. He knew the truth about God and the truth about idols—and he wasn’t afraid to take on the wannabe pseudo-prophets of his day. Elijah knew that God was both loving and powerful, and that the drought wasn’t due to any lack on God’s part—it was due to a bigger plan He was working out. In order to demonstrate that God’s power wasn’t lacking, Elijah staged a contest between himself, the prophet of God, and 450 prophets of the idol Baal.
The false prophets called on Baal, and Elijah called on God. Whichever one sent fire from heaven to burn up a sacrifice would clearly be the true God. Both sides prepared sacrifices—and Elijah soaked his with twelve jugs of water, just to make it hard to ignite. The boys of Baal went first and spent the entire day calling on the idol to send fire to consume the sacrifice. But no fire fell.
At that point, Elijah started having a little fun. He asked the Baal prophets, “Why doesn’t your god do something? Maybe he’s deep in thought, or busy, or out of town. Or maybe he’s taking a nap! Maybe it will help if you shout louder!” (see 1 Kings 18:27). But their shouts went unanswered. So Elijah called on the God of Israel and asked Him to send fire from heaven so that people would know He was a powerful God who cared for them. And the fire fell. It consumed everything—including the precious water that had collected in a trench around the altar.
That day everyone in Israel who was hurting because of the drought learned two things about God: He cares and He is powerful. Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t do something? Your soul may feel as parched as the floor of a Judean desert. If so, I can tell you two things not to believe about the drought you’re in. It’s not because God doesn’t love you or because He is unable to rain His comfort upon your life. Something else is at work. God will let the groaning and laboring go on until the perfect moment—in your life, in my life, and in the world—at which time rain will bring more glory to God than pain.
WHEN HIS RAINS DO COME, IT WILL BE AT A TIME AND IN A WAY THAT
CONVINCES YOU THAT HIS LOVE AND POWER ARE REAL.