WHEN I HAD my stitches removed after knee surgery last summer, the news wasn’t what I expected. The doctor told me my knee was still in really bad shape and that I’d probably never be able to do what I used to do. He said I would most likely need a knee replacement in 10 years. In his opinion, that was the best case scenario.
Although I heard what the doctor told me, my mind said, “I believe the report of the Lord.” However, I’m a very active person. I love to run and work out. And I admit I was taken aback by what he said.
By the time I got home, I was feeling down. I started complaining and feeling sorry for myself. As I wallowed in self-pity, the Lord stopped me and taught me a lesson through the story of Elijah in First Kings chapter 18.
Israel had turned away from the Lord to worship Baal. God sent the prophet Elijah to show them their evil ways and encourage them to return to Him. Elijah challenged the wicked King Ahab and the 450 prophets of Baal to a burnt offering showdown on Mount Carmel to prove who was really God.
For the contest, Elijah and the prophets of Baal would each sacrifice a bull on the altar, but they would not light a fire. Instead they would ask the one they worshipped to light it. The prayers of Baal’s prophets were unsuccessful. But the Lord answered Elijah’s prayers with fire. The people of Israel returned to the Lord, and Elijah killed the 450 prophets of Baal.
King Ahab told his wife, Jezebel, what happened, and she sent Elijah a death threat. When he heard it, he ran for his life. He became so discouraged that he told the Lord he wanted to die
(1 Kings 19:4). Elijah had just experienced a huge victory over 450 men. Then one woman threatened his life and he ran away, hid under a tree in the wilderness, became full of fear and self-pity, and begged God to let him die.
‘What Are You Doing Here?’
When Elijah reached Mount Sinai, God asked him, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9). It’s as if God was saying, “I just came through for you on Mount Carmel, and now you feel like you can’t go on and fulfill the plan I have for you?”
I saw myself in part of Elijah’s story. I had an “Elijah spirit.” I received one bad doctor’s report and let self-pity take over. Although I knew that report wasn’t the final say, I had a defeated, “poor ole me” attitude. Like Elijah, I felt as if God was asking, “Denise, what are you doing here after all the times I’ve been faithful to you?”
In the end, God revealed His plan to Elijah and sent Elisha to help him for the rest of his days on earth. God had a plan all along. It just took a process to get there.
God Calls Us to Endurance
God has a plan for each of us, but sometimes it takes endurance to get there. Endurance is a vital quality to have, because life is tough. Jesus said we will have trials and tribulations. But He also told us to take heart—or have endurance—because He has overcome the world. (See John 16:33.)
The Book of James also has something to say about endurance.
JAMES 1:2–4 (NLT)
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Endurance is “the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.” Endurance isn’t a supernatural gift God gives us. It is developed through stress, trials, and pressure. TRIALS HIGHLIGHT OUR WEAKNESSES AND SHOW US WHERE WE NEED TO GROW. That’s why we must go through tests, trials, and persecution instead of trying to back out of them. It’s time we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and having pity parties when difficulties arise. Instead of responding like Elijah, we need to respond like the Apostle Paul.
Paul knew a thing or two about endurance. Writing to Timothy he said, “But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance” (2 Tim. 3:10 NLT).
As the Lord dealt with me last summer, I went from an “Elijah spirit” to a spirit of endurance like Paul. He learned to rejoice and take pleasure in all his hardships. (See 2 Cor. 12:9–10.) Paul came to understand that when he was weak, he was in the best possible position. He learned that when we come to the end of ourselves, God always comes through. It is in our weakness that God’s power shines the best.
Two Ways to Develop Endurance
To develop endurance we must do two things each day. First, we have to feed our faith. In First Kings chapter 19, when Elijah was lying under the tree wanting to die, the angel of the Lord fed him. God arranged that because He knew if Elijah didn’t eat, he wouldn’t make it on the 40-day journey He was about to send him on.
To make it through the journey God has for us, we must eat the Word of God every day. If we don’t feed on the Word daily, we risk casting away our faith in times of trouble. Sadly, many people end up in this position. It happens because all they do is listen to other people instead of reading the Word for themselves. To develop endurance we must be proactive and feed on scriptures that strengthen us where we are weak.
The second thing we must do to develop endurance is fix our focus. We must ask ourselves, “Where is my focus? Is it on Jesus or on the problems around me?” Wherever we’re looking is where we’re going. We must intentionally fix our focus on Jesus each day. If we find ourselves weakening in our faith, we must look to Jesus. In Hebrews chapter 12 we see how He kept His focus and endured for us.
No matter what the devil throws at you, refuse to quit. Feed your faith and fix your focus. If you do these two things every day, you will be complete and mature, lacking nothing. And when trouble comes, you will endure.
Kenneth E. Hagin
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