From Hurt to Usefulness

Then the LORD said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”

So Elijah did as the LORD told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. (1 Kings 17:2–6)

As we read those words and try to imagine the original setting, we begin to see the surprising nature of God's plan. The most logical arrangement, seemingly, would be to keep Elijah in the king's face---to use the prophet as a persistent goad, pressing the godless monarch into submission, forcing him to surrender his will to the One who had created him. After all, none of King Ahab's advisors and counselors had Elijah's integrity. There was no one nearby to confront the king's idolatrous ways or his cruel and unfair acts against the people of Israel. It only made good sense to leave Elijah there in the court of the king.

So much for human logic.

God's plan is always full of surprise and mystery. While we might have chosen to leave Elijah there, confronting Ahab, such was not the Father's plan. He had things He wished to accomplish deep within His servant's inner life, things that would prepare Elijah for encounters that might destroy a less-obedient, less-committed, and less-prepared servant. Hence, God immediately sent him away to a place of isolation, hidden from everyone, where he would not only be protected from physical danger but would also be better prepared for a greater mission.

For the godly hero to be useful as an instrument of significance in the Lord's hand, he must be humbled and forced to trust. He must, in other words, be "cut down to size." Or, as A. W. Tozer loved to say, "It's doubtful that God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply."1 It has been my observation over the years that the deeper the hurt, the greater the usefulness.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This
  1. A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous, (Camp Hill, Penn.: Christian Publications, 1986), 137.

Taken from Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles Swindoll. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll. Used by permission of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. www.harpercollinschristian.com

How It All Ends

See Revelation—and our Lord—like never before! On February 23, take a deep-dive with Pastor Chuck into the final book of the Bible. Chuck will explain difficult passages, blending truth and encouragement. You’ll be left in awe of our great and sovereign Lord!