Commentary on "Stress""
Day 2: Sunday, January 9, 2011 - Exciting Life Events
Today’s lesson looks at Elijah’s life and explores some remarkable miracles that God did in his life: the ravens feeding him, his raising a boy to life, his challenge to the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel, and the rain God sent after Elijah’s prayer on Mt. Carmel. The point is made that even successes and positive experiences stress us, and even prophets like Elijah becomes over-stressed and vulnerable to discouragement. The lesson ends with the questions, “Why must we be careful not to be too self-satisfied during good times?”
Today’s lesson does not address the underlying reality that “stress” is not the issue in one’s life. Elijah’s series of exciting, miraculous events are not windows into “stress” but into the question of belief or unbelief, trust or self-centered evaluation.
When we belong to the Lord Jesus and are doing what He brings us to do, success and failure are matters of God, not matters of our performance. Elijah demonstrated trust and submission to God, and God glorified Himself in profound miracles that showed He was the only sovereign God, powerful even over the other gods that claimed the people’s reverence.
Participating in God’s work and being available for God work through one is exhausting; the point, however, is not that we must counteract “stress”. The real danger is that we become distracted from our time in God’s word, gradually being drawn away from submitting our minds and spirits to the truth and reality that are only found in Scripture as we submit to the Lord Jesus to teach us.
The quotation from Early Writings in this lesson has Ellen White saying the story of Elijah’s being fed by ravens is a promise that in the last days God will supply His people’s bread and water during the time of trouble, that He will send ravens to feed us if necessary.
Elijah’s story is not an illustration of what God will do for Sabbath-keepers during the time of trouble. The New Testament contains a profound promise that God will always supply what His people need if they are seeking His kingdom first:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)
This is not a statement about the “last days”. This is an absolute promise that God will provide what we need if we are surrendered to doing His work and trusting Him. Right now, today, God asks us to surrender our wants and desires to Him and trust Him to provide what we need to eat and drink and wear. He will provide in unexpected ways, and He will not allow us to begin to trust a “formula” or a method of provision. He asks us to give up our desire for predictability and to literally rest in Him, believing He will do what He says He will do. He truly keeps His promises…not only in the last days, but today.
This is the message Elijah’s life gives us. God used Elijah; his strength and energy were poured out for God’s purposes. Later, when he became discouraged and weary, God revealed Himself to him in a quiet but profound way and sent him back to work. God does not give us room for self-pity; He asks us to honestly surrender our desires and needs and compulsions to Him and allow Him to give us rest.
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