Devotion 8 in the series Elijah: Fully Surrendered

What Is God Doing? How to Find Hope When All Seems Lost

Inside: You know those moments in life when you feel like all hope is lost? They may be massively difficult circumstances or minor bumps that mess with your day. What is God doing? Two surprising things God might be doing that could turn your day and your life around.

What Is God Doing? How to Find Hope When All Seems Lost

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

I am bursting at the seams to share this devotion with you! Have you had those moments in life when you feel like all hope is lost? They may be massively difficult circumstances or minor bumps that mess with your day.

  • You’ve prayed and prayed (and prayed and prayed) and have yet to see an answer. What is God doing?
  • You are beside yourself at a decision your child or a loved one has made. How could this happen?
  • That coworker, friend, or relative grinds at your nerves day after day. Really, God?

How can we find hope when all seems lost?

Elijah, our fully surrendered prophet, had labored courageously for the Lord, and it seemed to him it was all for naught. Despite a resounding victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, the people had only temporarily turned to God.

Were all of Elijah’s efforts in vain?

Not only was he the only faithful believer left–or so he thought–but he was also a wanted man. Were he to be found by Queen Jezebel, he would be killed.

“I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:14 ESV)

Do you hear the “woe is me”? We’ve been there, right?

I find God’s reaction to Elijah’s downheartedness fascinating and very telling for our own lives.

God Gave Elijah Purpose

God did not give into Elijah’s “woe is me” mentality, but He also did not ignore it. In His divine care, He poured kingdom purpose into His worn-out faithful servant.

15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.

God gave Elijah purpose–jobs to do–and not just any ordinary tasks. Each task had specific purpose in God’s kingdom: God asked Elijah to anoint two kings and his very own apprentice.

When all hope seems lost, look for God’s purpose. Listen to hear what He is asking of you. Notice if He is putting a particular task in front of you to do, and especially listen to see if God has called you to a task that has kingdom purpose.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

God Helped Elijah See that He Was Not Alone

What Is God Doing?Elijah felt alone, and not just physically isolated. He felt spiritually alone, with no friends of like mind or companionship in the things of God. Ever felt that way? You may have experienced this isolation during a spiritual low (“I just don’t feel close to God”) or at a moment of spiritual awe (“Why is no one else excited about this great thing God is doing?”).

In those times, remember that God is always at work. Our feelings are not fact. Check out God’s spiritual fact-check for Elijah:

Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18 ESV)

Aha. Elijah was not even close to alone in his faith! In fact, 7,000 other Israelites had also not bowed to Baal and still served God and God alone. Furthermore, God promised to preserve them.

When all hope seems lost, what is God doing? He is doing a gazillion things that we don’t know about. Seek His voice, and you might find that (1) He is giving you a job to do in His kingdom, and (2) He wants to assure you that you are not alone.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

Be sure to continue with the Digging Deeper questions below for more ideas on how to find hope when you cannot tell what God is doing. See the Extra Info for more information about the three tasks God asked Elijah to do.

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Do you need help surrendering a situation to God? Click on one of these links to access a free printable of a Prayer of Surrender!

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Digging into God’s Word: What Is God Doing?

Let God speak into your life through His word to Elijah. The first few verses will  help you remember last week’s devotion, when God spoke to Elijah in a low whisper. Today, take note of how God cared for his discouraged prophet.

1 Kings 19:11-18 (ESV)

11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Digging Deeper: Finding Hope When All Seems Lost

Enjoy this time with the Lord! As you are able, reflect on these questions or journal your thoughts.

1. What do you learn about God in 1 Kings 19:11-18? How does this apply to your life at this time?

2. In 1 Kings 19:14-18, God gave Elijah kingdom tasks to do, and those tasks fit into God’s kingdom purposes. How does having a purpose from God help you? Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship, created to do works that God prepared for us to do. If you are walking with the Lord, there is no randomness to your life. Take time to listen for what works God might be asking you to do.

3. Ask God to broaden your perspective to understand all that God may be doing. What in these words from Priscilla Shirer do you find challenging or encouraging?

Whether or not you perceive Him [God] at work depends largely on whether you’re postured to “look, observe, be astonished, and wonder”–to be expectantly hopeful and eager for Him, believing He’s at work even when He seems distant.

Yes, ask Him your questions. How long, Lord? Why, Lord” But then immediately ask Him for vision to recognize where His providential hand is already at work. Your personal problem (though important, simply because it’s yours) is but a small sliver in the grand scope of all God is doing. (Discerning the Voice of God, p. 173)

4. God is so very faithful. Just as He did not abandon Elijah in the prophet’s times of fear and doubt, so He will not abandon us. Thank God for His faithfulness in your life, and then freely approach His throne with any prayer requests you have. Is there an area of life for which you’d like to ask God for direction? Pray about that now, asking God to help you trust Him and to help you surrender to Him. If you like, you can use the prayer of surrender below, or print out your free printable of it here (8.5 X 11 version, half-page version).

Dear Lord, I come to you now, in need of your wisdom and direction. I bring to you this situation [name it, describe it]. . . . I open my hands and my heart to hear from you [open your hands]. Help me to hear your voice clearly. . . . What you have asked me to do, help me to do with faith and courage. What you have asked me to release, help me to release to you and not grab back as if I know better than you. I surrender to your will. Give my feet your direction and my will your will instead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

5. If you like, use these songs to worship as you listen for what God is doing:

Overcomer (Mandisa, official video) C’mon, rock this song! You can be an overcomer because Christ lives in you.

Overcomer (Mandisa, lyric video)

Word of God Speak (MercyMe)

God I Look to You (Francesca Battistelli)

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Thank you for the recent Shares! If you have found this devotion helpful, please like and Share so others can hear the good news, too!

To start this series from the beginning, click this link: Elijah: Fully Surrendered.

Extra Info!

In 1 Kings 19:15-16, God asked Elijah to anoint three people. In fact, he only physically anointed one of them: Elisha. Later, Elisha actually anointed Hazael king over Aram and Jehu king over Israel. The most common interpretation is that these were extensions of Elijah’s anointing. A less common interpretation, but a possibility nonetheless, is that the lack of anointing was disobedience on Elijah’s part.

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Comments

  1. Kenneth Gray says:

    Hello,

    I have been asking God to show me my purpose for about 40 years. In that time the only response from God has been absolute silence. Everyone keeps telling me to find my God given purpose, but not how to accomplish this. I am poor, uneducated, skilless, talentless. I am struggling to maintain my faith in this endless silence from God. How do you find your purpose when God doesn’t tell you what it is? I can’t afford to try different things while I search for my God given purpose on my own. Education is reserved for rich people. What does God want from me? Why this miserable useless life?

    Thank for the opportunity to say my piece. God bless you, in Jesus name, Amen.

  2. Kenneth Gray says:

    I see a big discrepancy in this. I personally don’t see how Elijah could have become disenfranchised with God. He was a prophet and received communication directly from God. If God actually spoke to me like He did Elijah, I would never doubt God. I get quite irritated when people use prophets, apostles and the like to compare our lives to. These people had God directly involved in their lives. We don’t. God doesn’t speak to me, so how do I figure out my specific God given purpose. Not the general purpose for everyone but my purpose.

    Thanks and God bless you, in Jesus holy name, Amen.

  3. Essa says:

    Hello Kenneth. Not everyone will be a prophet or a great leader. The more you focus on what you’re not, the harder it is to focus on what God has told you you are and can be. He’s given us a perfect manual on how to follow Him and that manual is your purpose. Your purpose is serving Him by obeying Him. He speaks to people in different ways. Personally when I pray He often shows me bible verses that apply to what I prayed about. Just trust and believe He will answer, but know it won’t always be like how you want to. It’s honestly not up to us to demand God to answer the way we want to. Read His words and continue to obey Him. Without faith you won’t be able to please Him. The more you read His word and obey Him the more you invite His presence in your life. Most of the prophets surrendered themselves completely. They were completely ostracised, persecuted and some even died. Feeling God can come in various degrees and its all about how much we surrender to Him. Feeling the way you feel, many experience that today. But in those moments of doubt it’s when you read the Word, pray and continue obeying Him. That is when your faith matters most. When you simply don’t understand God. As you can see in the world, this is not the time to question our purpose. It is to act according to it. His purpose for you is very clear. Obey Him. Nothing more nothing less. The Bible is full of how you can obey Him.When and if He demands a special purpose of you, He will tell you like He told the others. I do not mean to offend you, in fact your messages on this post have encouraged me to have faith in a time where i feel extremely hopeless and useless. May God speak to you. God bless you.

  4. Kenneth Gray says:

    Hello Essa,

    I don’t want to be a prophet or great leader. God prepared tasks for each of us before time began. At least that is what the Bible says. The Bible doesn’t tell us what each person’s God given task/purpose is, just that this purpose exists and that God equipped us for it. God hasn’t revealed the purpose or the “tools” given to accomplish it. Jeremiah 33:3 says that God will answer when called. Show us great and mighty things that are unknown to us. I have asked God, in prayer, to reveal these things to me so I may glorify God in Jesus name. Praying to God is calling out to God. Yet no answer as promised. Just complete silence. How do you completely trust anyone, including God, when they don’t keep their word/promises. If God can’t lie, then explain why God hasn’t answered as promised? Trying to keep my faith alive by clinging to my only hope, eternal life through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is for after I die. No hope for this life when you only get silence from God.

    Thanks for your reply, it is appreciated.

    God bless you, in Jesus holy name, Amen.

  5. Kirk says:

    Hi Kenneth, What if our purpose is something small? Maybe writing a comment to a post? What if our purpose is to help an elderly person cross a street, or pick up something someone dropped but didn’t notice? Would that be big enough for us?

    What if our purpose is to sincerely smile at a stranger, one who unbeknownst to us is having a terrible time, maybe even suicidal? What if our purpose is a short but helpful conversation with someone next to us in line at a store? Could we accept that?

    What if in doing these very small things we find out something very big about ourselves? Maybe that we have the strength and power to lift others up by doing the small, can we be satisfied with that?

    Have a wonderful day, and Merry Christmas, in whatever season you are in.

  6. Harry Allen says:

    To Kenneth Gray

    Proverbs 3: 5&6 please read this , and trust & believe His Word. You have to know in ur hear you Trust the Lord His whole Word, ALL of it. Remember something will my sense to us but trust Him in the unknown places. Blessings to you my brother in Christ Jesus!!!

  7. A fantastic blog, indeed! It gives me positive vibes; I always want to read inspirational content like this. Thanks for posting

  8. Samuel Yukna says:

    I completely understand Kenneth Gray. My prayers too have seemed to fall on def ears for years. I do not understand why God seems to have forsaken me. I pray for relief from the pain and suffering daily. For years now. I do believe that Jesus died for our(my) sins. I honestly don’t have the strength to continue to live like this any longer. I wish I had some words of encouragement for Kenneth; but I do not have the strength. To top it all off…there is nearly 8 billion people on this planet, and there is not one that loves me or cares. How messed up is that. May God bless you all.

  9. My heart is full while reading this again. Thanks a lot. It gives me more positivity in life.

  10. Toni Hawkins says:

    Hello
    My name is Toni Hawkins, a friend recommended me to read this article. Long story short, I was molested twice, raped three times and I was jumped as if I were a man. I don’t really have a support system except God. A lot of bad things have happened to me in my life. I consider myself a good person. I break my back just to help others and provide for others and this is how God repays me. I really do hope someone replies my comment. I find it hard to trust people these days, even friends. Like I said, I have no one on my side and I’m completely alone. Sometimes I think of suicide. My ex called me a fat whore and was talking about me to my friends recently. My point in talking about this is that I’m starting to lose my faith in God. I don’t want to go to church anymore and I don’t want to read the Bible anymore or pray. God must want me to suffer and I’m a damn good human being and I matter dammit

  11. David says:

    Toni,
    Unfortunately, many women have had the same things or worse done to them. Women and men are trafficked throughout the world as well. This is not the world God intended it to be. He had to give Mankind a free-will or we would all be robots forced to be good and in a fallen world that is a dangerous thing now and will be until Jesus returns and judgment is set for all those who have done these things like the things they have done to you and they WILL be judged!! God understands your anger and deep, deep pain and He sorrows with you and all the others that have been wickedly mistreated. This present world is corrupted and unfixable and that is why there is going to be a new heavens and a new earth where there is NO evil or wickedness and it is coming quickly as we all can now see. God is not repaying you evil for good for that is not Who He is. It is the free will of people who are becoming increasingly selfish and evil just as Jesus and Paul said they would be before the end. Bad things happen to good people and vice-versa, but God promises in the end that the wicked, which includes those who have done those things to you WILL PAY!! As a side note, being a good person doesn’t make us immune to evil people, and the more good we do oftentimes the devil fights us against because he is evil and he hates good, so don’t give up doing good because oftentimes that shows we are making a difference when the enemy fights against us, so be a warrior for good! We need people like you 🙂 Also remember that being good does not get you or anyone into the Kingdom of Heaven-being forgiven does! There is no amount of good that you or anyone can do that will make us right with God-only the justification that comes through faith in Jesus that He died our death for us on His cross can make us right with God for He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for us that we could become the righteousness of God in Him. Get alone with God. He wants a deep, intimate relationship with you more than you do, and He already knows your heart and all of your pain. Your suffering is not His fault-it’s the world we live in and the people in it. Overcome evil with good. Turn to Him not away from Him. He is good, but this world is not, but that is all going to change soon when Jesus returns, just make sure you are ready when He does, Toni. Get alone and talk to Him as a friend Who knows and Who cares and One Who is angry with the wicked everyday. He hates what is going on too, but there are still souls that have to be saved, and then the end will come.

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