Over the last couple of weeks, we have taken a look at things that I personally pray for while I am on my walk of faith towards the heavenly kingdom. I always pray for the Lord to guide and give me direction on this journey because I desire for my end destination to be heaven. I also pray for the Lord to keep me, to shield, to protect me, and to let no hurt, harm, or danger come upon me as I go along the way because I want to make it to heaven.
Now, while we are on this difficult journey, I imagine we have all experienced days that can be so hard on us that can be too much to bear; some of us may even begin to lose hope. So, in order for me to never lose hope, I pray for God to supply my every need. I do this because I desire not to ever lose hope while on this journey because again, I want to make it to the heavenly kingdom – this is my main desire in life. You see, a believer that becomes hopeless is a believer that is in serious trouble and is in need of great help.
The Long Hard Journey
As you have heard me say before, there are many people who live with the impression that just because one is a child of God, life’s journey should be much easier. Let me tell you something, scripture makes it very clear that such an impression is a misleading impression. When I think about the difficulties of the journey for the believer, I first think of a couple of things that Jesus said to those that desired to follow Him.
Drinking from the cup of Christ
On one occasion, the mother of James and John made a request to Jesus that her two sons be allowed to sit at His hands – one on the left and the other on the right (Matt. 20:20-28). To this request, Jesus responded, “You do not know what you ask.” He then asked the two, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with (Matt. 20:22)?”
As we know, James and John were actually already closely following Jesus, but when Jesus made this statement, it was near the end of His physical life in our world. The two disciples were about to follow Christ in the same manner in which you and I follow Christ today – without Him physically being in the world.
So, the cup that Jesus spoke of was not a cup filled with a drink that is good to taste. No, the cup of Jesus was filled with a very bitter drink. If you desire to drink from His cup, you have to be ready to go through what He went through. Jesus said to them, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28).”
While Jesus was loved by many, He was hated by so many more. Jesus, as we know, ended up suffering because He shared a word of love, forgiveness, mercy, and salvation. This was a word that pointed out mankind’s wickedness and nobody wants to hear that they are wicked. So, this was a word that opposed those that desire to be wicked.
The world will hate you, is what Jesus said (John 15:18-25). Those who drink from the cup of Christ should be prepared to be frowned at, mocked, and hated today by those who are truly of the world. This journey, at times, can feel like a lonely one with suffering for the soul.
The need for spiritual sustenance
There was one that came to Jesus and said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go (Luke 9:57).” Jesus, I imagined, smiled and looked at this one and then said to him plainly, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Luke 9:58).”
By this statement, Jesus was making it very plain and clear to this one that following Him is not some kind of joy ride – it is difficult. Jesus never tried to hide this fact from anyone who desired to follow Him! Jesus, I want you to understand, was not telling anyone not to follow Him but wanted people to understand what they would be getting themselves into by following Him on their journey.
Jesus, again, said to another, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).” Understand this: there are going to be trials, tribulations, and adversaries that will make things so hard on you that the journey can become exhausting for the soul. Yet, the true believer cannot lose hope and turn back on this journey or else they will not reach the heavenly kingdom.
So, while we are on this journey, every true believer will require sustenance in order to make it to the finish line. This sustenance, as you have heard me say before, is not a sustenance that can be provided by the world; there is nothing that this world can feed our soul in order to sustain it. Without any sustenance, our soul can grow weak which makes it easier for one to lose all hope.
God can supply your every need
In 1 Kings, we are introduced to the prophet Elijah and we get to see a portion of his walk of faith. As we know, Elijah was a man who was very strong and bold in his faith in God. He boldly stood up to King Ahab, Jezebel, and several false prophets of Baal on behalf of the Lord on a few occasions and became a hated adversary of theirs. This all first began when the Lord sent Elijah to go before Ahab and pronounce the great famine that lasted for three and a half years (1 Kgs. 17:1; 1 Kgs. 18:1; Luke 4:25; Jas. 5:17).
God supplies our physical needs
For Elijah, scripture shows us that this famine was a moment in time where the Lord clearly supplied his every need so that he could endure and make it through the famine. For a short period of time after the proclamation, Elijah stayed by the Brook of Cherith. It was at this brook that the Lord sent ravens to Elijah to feed to him bread and meat (1 Kgs. 17:6).
When the brook eventually dried up because of the famine, Elijah did not have to stress or worry about his physical needs. God told Elijah to go to Zarephath where there was a widow who would be there that could provide shelter and food for him (1 Kgs. 17:8-16). So the Lord was clearly caring for and taking care of Elijah’s every need, physically.
I wanted to make this point clear to you first because our physical needs are always a major concern of ours that can cause a great deal of stress and worry for us in our soul. In actuality, the believer ought not stress or worry about these things. Jesus has said to those that would choose to follow Him not worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear because the Lord will care for us as He does the flowers of the field (Matt. 6:25-34). So, try not to ever lose hope because you feel that your physical needs are not being cared for by the Lord because they certainly will be cared for by Him.
The encouraging word your soul needs
Now, as we continue through Elijah’s time after the proclamation of the famine, we will see he arrived at the widow’s home. This widow, we will see, was not in a good place on her journey. Due to the famine and the scarcity of things, she had lost all hope and was waiting for death to come and take her and her son. When we find ourselves in a spiritual famine because of our trials, tribulations, and adversaries, our soul is at its lowest point.
These are those moments where we are spiritually exhausted and simply unable to bear any more. God, I believe, reaches out to us in these moments but some of us end up losing connection with Him in a spiritual famine. Because we lose connection with Him, we stop hearing His voice or recognizing the signs of God reaching out to us.
In his letter, James wrote, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up (Jas. 5:13-15).” One who is sick does not always have to be sick physically.
I tell you, this woman was not in good health spiritually – she was sick – and I believe this was affecting her mentally, emotionally, and likely physically as well. God did not desire for this widow to lose hope in her soul and so, to supply her need to be uplifted and given hope, he sent her Elijah, a man who was strong in the faith. When a word of encouragement needs to be supplied to our need of being uplifted in our soul, God will often send messengers to us, especially if we have lost connection with Him.
Elijah encouraged her to have faith and trust in the Lord when she doubted that she did not have enough for them to be able to make it through the famine (1 Kgs. 17:12). With his encouragement, over time, she began to realize that they were blessed with more than enough to make it through the famine. This widow became one who relied more and more on the Lord and said to Elijah that His word (God’s word) is the truth (1 Kgs. 17:24). God gave her exactly what she needed – hope!
You see, there are a lot of times where we lose hope because we don’t believe God has given us what we want or feel is enough to be able to make it. Because of this, we stress and worry; we get down on ourselves and we even get down on the Lord – we lose hope. Yet, we must have the faith to understand that the Lord always provides us more than enough! God, we must remember, is a liberal giver so there is no need for us to ever lose hope in our soul because He is going to give our soul what it needs to keep pushing forward!
The strong losing strength on the journey
At times the soul needs an encouraging word from a familiar voice, but there are other times when that familiar voice is not enough for us. Our trials, tribulations, and adversaries can become so great that we feel it necessary for us to flee – to give up. Such a moment happened to Elijah in his walk of faith.
After the showdown and victory at Mount Carmel, we find that Jezebel had put Elijah on notice and the man of God was on the run for his life (1 Kgs. 19:2-8). Scripture shows us that Elijah found himself at a broom tree where he had sat down with all hope lost. I picture a man who was at the end of his line as he somberly said to the Lord, “It is enough (1 Kgs. 19:4)!” Elijah was done – he was spiritually exhausted and had given up hope!
So, why had this man who was strong in the faith lost hope? I suppose for us to answer this question, we should consider for ourselves what could lead to us (you) losing hope at times on your journey?
I believe that we often lose hope when we are overtaxed and over burdened in our soul; trials and tribulations happen to pile up on us and they become too much for us to handle. I believe we often lose hope when we feel things aren’t going as we desire. It is in these moments that the believer can begin to think that God is not on their side and this is a thought or feeling that can cause the believer to feel like they are all alone in this battle on their journey.
You see, I believe all of us are familiar with what Elijah was feeling at that moment. Elijah was a man who was overly worked, overly stressed, and overly burdened in his soul with all that he was dealing with and going through. For Elijah, the victory at Mount Carmel was supposed to be a great victory yet, it only turned into gloom and doom for him; so, things were not going as he thought they would go.
Lastly, this was a moment in time where Elijah felt all alone on his journey. He looked around and didn’t see any other believers or prophets with him on this journey; he was alone and depressed in his soul. Elijah was in need of a mighty uplifting at this point so that he could continue to endure on his journey.
God’s renewal of strength
Instead of sending someone to Elijah, we find that the Lord personally stepped in to supply Elijah’s need. At the broom tree, we will see that the Lord put Elijah to sleep and after sleeping for a while, an angel touched him and woke him up to eat (1 Kgs. 19:5-6). The Lord put him to sleep again and after a while the angel of the Lord came back, woke him up, and told Elijah to eat while saying to him, “the journey is too great for you (1 Kgs. 19:7).”
I believe this angel is the same one that fixed breakfast by the sea for the disciples at Galilee. After the resurrection of Christ, the disciples were out fishing and Jesus visited by the sea to encourage them in the work that was now before them on their journey (John 21:1-14); their journey had only just begun.
Notice that when Elijah had finished eating, he was able to go in the strength of that food for forty days and nights as we see in my key verse. Yes, there was physical nourishment supplied by the Lord but I tell you that Elijah was also rejuvenated spiritually. God had to build Elijah’s stamina back up just as He has to do ours on several occasions on our journey! Scripture proclaims that those who wait on the Lord will have their strength renewed by Him; they will mount up with wings like an eagle, they will run and not grow weary, and they will walk and not faint (Is. 40:31)!
Do Not Lose Hope
We should understand that our journey, as the angel said to Elijah, is too great for us to handle on our own! If we try to tackle this journey on our own we will end up getting run over by life and we will lose all hope. So, in order for us to endure, we need all that help we can get from the Lord to supply our every need so that we do not lose hope – so that we do not faint.
Elijah was very strong in faith and we see that even he was not sufficient for the battle that is life by himself. When you feel like you are all alone, I want you to know that you are not alone when you are in fellowship with the Lord. I want you to understand today that the Lord will always be there to comfort you when you feel you are losing all hope. When we feel like things are not going our way, let us remember that the Lord sets our way for us and that we should trust in the way He has set.
God’s encouragement to us
Again, we cannot lose heart (hope) as that would be tragic for the one who believes in the Lord. Jesus taught the Parable of the Persistent Widow and said that we should always pray not to lose heart (Luke 18:1-8). To the Galatians, Paul encouraged them not to grow weary (lose hope) in doing good because in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart (Gal. 6:9).
As I have shared with you in this series of sermons, there is a finish line awaiting all of us on this journey. I desire for my finish line to be at the heavenly kingdom of the Lord. There is a reward awaiting us at that finish line that I desire to reach. So, I train myself to run this race, to walk this walk of faith, in a manner that I can reach that finish line to receive that reward and I know that God is going to help me get there!
So, I encourage you to do as David spoke of in Psalm 37:3 – feed on the faithfulness of God. You see, when you feed on the faithfulness of the Lord, God will not only feed you (supply your need) physically but also spiritually as well. You will remain filled with hope and be able to endure all that life throws at you on your journey! So, when we have those moments where we feel that we are losing hope, don’t lose hope – remain faithful to the one that is faithful to you. Remember that the Lord is with you, will uplift you, and will supply your every need so that you can endure and make it to the finish line.