Today I am taking a bit of a break from Proverbs 31.
While preparing for a single’s retreat at the end of the year, I came across a passage. I have heard teaching on this passage before, but had never looked at it as is applies to a single missionary. The passage in question is 1Kings 19.
God has just proven that He is God in Israel with the showdown on Mt Carmel with the prophets of Baal. In a great flash of fire, God proved that He is the living God and He is worthy of worship. After this great victory, Jezebel hears what Elijah has done and swears revenge. He runs for his life. This seems weird after just seeing the mighty hand of God at work that he would run away. Then he goes even further and says to God:
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 1 Kings 19:10
God tells him to stand on the Mount before the Lord. God sends a great wind, a mighty earthquake and a raging fire, but does not speak to him. Then comes the still small voice asking him:
And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 1Kings 19:13
I am reminded of God talking to Adam asking him where he was. God know where he was but wanted Adam to recognize where he was. With Elijah I see the same thing. He presents his complaint once again:
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 1 Kings 19:14
Did you see what I did? Here is what I hear Elijah saying, I have done so much for you and now I am all alone. Not only that but they want to kill me.
The charge of being all alone is one I hear a lot from single missionaries. We do so much and have no one to share the burden. But I like what God said next:
Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. 1 Kings 19:18
God is saying, you think you are the only one who is faithful to me but I have so many others who have not sold out or compromised. He then sends Elijah to find a partner in ministry, Elisha.
This last summer, I was feeling the same way. All of my coworkers are families. I felt alone because I was not a part of a couple or family. Then I attended a retreat for single missionaries. I saw first-hand that I was not the only one. Many of the ladies present worked with couples or worked entirely alone. It was good to see that others had the same problems I did and the same feelings of aloneness. Now when I think of being alone among many couples, I remember, other are doing the same and the Lord is with us all.
God has picked out our places of service. He knows that we are lonely and discouraged at times. We need to remember what He said to Elijah, You are not the only one. There are others who are doing My work. Get back in the fight and I will send the help you need at the right time.
And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. 1 Kings 19:15-18