April 29

“Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are.” James 5:17

Thank God for that! He got under a juniper tree, as you and I have often done; he complained and murmured, as we have often done; was unbelieving, as we have often been. But that was not the case when he really got into touch with God. Though “a man subject to like passions as we are,” “he prayed praying.”  It is sublime in the original–not “earnestly,” but “he prayed in prayer.” He kept on praying. What is the lesson here? You must keep praying.

Come up on the top of Carmel, and see that remarkable parable of Faith and Sight. It was not the descent of the fire that now was necessary, but the descent of the flood; and the man that can command the fire can command the flood by the same means and methods. We are told that he bowed himself to the ground with his face between his knees; that is, shutting out all sights and sounds. He was putting himself in a position where, beneath his mantle, he could neither see nor hear what was going forward. He said to his servant, “Go and take an observation.” He went and came back, and said—how sublimely brief! one  word—“Nothing!”

What do we do under such circumstances?

We say, “It is just as I expected!” and we give up praying. Did Elijah? No, he said, “Go again.” His servant again came back and said, “Nothing!” “Go again.” “Nothing!”

By and by he came back, and said, “There is a little cloud like a man’s hand.” A man’s hand had been raised in supplication, and presently down came the rain; and Ahab had not time to get back to the gate of Samaria with all his fast steeds. This is a parable of Faith and Sight—faith shutting itself up with God; sight taking observations and seeing nothing; faith going right on, and “praying in prayer,” with utterly hopeless reports from sight.

Do you know how to pray that way, how to pray prevailingly? Let sight give as discouraging reports as it may, but pay no attention to these. The living God is still in the heavens and even to delay is part of His goodness. (Streams in the Desert)

“God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work in order for you to be mature and complete.” James 1:2-4

Perseverance is more valuable than ability. What matters in life, is not what you achieve in any given moment, but rather what you willingly endure to the end. Many persons of tremendous promise sparkle like a sprinter bursting forth from the blocks, only to learn that ours is a marathon, not 100 meter dash. One-hit wonders do not make good disciples. Youth inevitably fades like hair color, and time becomes either our friend or bitter enemy. Make certain the handwriting on the wall does not translate, “Weighed in the balance and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27). Perhaps the most pragmatic statement in Scripture is, “Strengthen that which remains” (Rev 3:2). Whatever comes your way today is no surprise to the Father, so bend into the wind and plod forward toward the finish line by God’s mercy.

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