Sermon 2725. Elijah Fainting
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 5, 1901.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JULY 1, 1880.
"He himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himselfthat he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers." 1 Kings 19:4.
WHEN we read the Scriptures in our youth, we are often astonished at the peculiar conditions in which we find even good men.It is difficult for us to understand why David could be in such sore distress and why such a man as Elijah could be so dreadfullydowncast. As we get older and become more experienced, as trials multiply around us and our inner life enters upon a sternerconflict-as the babe grows to manhood and, therefore, is entrusted with heavier tasks, we can better understand why God allowedHis ancient servants to be put into such peculiar positions, for we find ourselves in similar places-and we are relieved bydiscovering that we are walking along a path which others have traversed before us. It might puzzle us to tell why Elijahshould get under a juniper bush. We can understand his attitude on Mount Carmel and comprehend his hewing the Prophets ofBaal in pieces, but we ask, in perplexity, "What are you doing here, Elijah, under a juniper, or away there in a cave on thehillside?" But when we get under the juniper, ourselves, we are glad to recall the fact that Elijah once sat there-and whenwe are hiding away in the cave, it is a source of comfort to us to remember that such a man as this great Prophet of Israelwas there before us. The experience of one saint is instructive to others. Many of those Psalms which are headed, "Maschil,"or instructive Psalms, record the experience of the writer and, therefore, become the lesson book for others.
I may be, at this time, addressing some of the Lord's children who have prayed Elijah's prayer. I know one who, in the bitternessof his soul, has often prayed it and, if God the Comforter shall guide me, I may be able to say something that shall helpsuch an one in this, his time of trial. If I should be permitted to come as God's angel to smite some sleeper on the sideand wake him up to eat of spiritual meat which shall cause him to forget his sorrow, it shall be well. I will, first, speakabout Elijah's weakness. And then, in the second place, about God's tenderness to him.
I. First, I am going to speak about ELIJAH'S WEAKNESS.
Only a few days before, he had stood on Mount Carmel as the mighty Prophet of God and had brought down from Heaven first fireand then water-he seemed to have the very keys of the skies and to be girt almost with Omnipotence to do whatever he wouldwhen he lifted up his voice in prayer! Yet, soon after, he was fleeing from the face of Jezebel, lest she should take himand put him to death! And here we find him, after a long flight in the wilderness, sitting down under a juniper bush, seekingto find a scanty shelter there-and entreating that he may die. Why?
Well, the first reason is, that he was a man of like passions with ourselves. I suppose that the Apostle James would hardlyhave said that concerning him if he had not perceived its truth in this particular instance. We used to have, in England,a great leader who is still called, "The Iron Duke." I think we might have called Elijah, "The Iron Prophet." He seemed toleap into the field of action like a lion from the forest. What strength and courage he had! He seemed to have nothing ofthe timidity, trembling and weakness of ordinary manhood-he was a very athlete in the service of God, girding up his loinsand running before Ahab's chariot.
Yet here we see that he was, indeed, a man of like passions with ourselves. He, too, could be impatient. He, too, could bepetulant. He, too, could grow weary of his appointed service and ask to be allowed to die. You have often heard me say thatthe best of men are but men at the best. The other day somebody wrote me a letter to tell me that sentence was not true. AllI could reply was, "No doubt, my good Friend, you know yourself and if, at your best, you are not a man, I do not know whatyou are-you must be something worse." And there I left him. But I believe that when a man is as good as he can be, he is stillonly a man-and as a man, while he is here, he is compassed with infirmities. Elijah was not only a man of passions, but aman of like passions with ourselves-a man who could suffer, and suffer intensely. He was one whose spirit could be depressedeven to the very uttermost, just as the spirit of any one of us might be. He failed, as all God's people have done! I scarcelyknow of any exception in all the biographies of the Old or New Testament.
Elijah failed in the very point at which he was strongest, and that is where most men fail. In Scripture, it is the wisestman who proves himself to be the greatest fool. Just as the meekest man, Moses, spoke hasty and bitter words. Abraham failedin his faith and Job in his patience. So, he who was the most courageous of all men fled from an angry woman! He could standface to face with that woman's husband and say to him, in answer to his false accusation, "I have not troubled Israel; butyou, and your father's house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you have followed Baalim." Yet hewas afraid of Jezebel and he fled from her-and suffered such faintness of heart that he even "requested for himself that hemight die." This was, I suppose, to show us that Elijah was not strong by nature, but only in the strength imparted to himby God, so that, when the Divine strength was gone, he was of no more account than anybody else. When Grace is for a timewithdrawn, the natural Elijah is as weak as any other natural man! It is only when supernatural power is working through himthat he rises out of himself-and so the Grace of God is glorified in him.
It is some comfort to us when we see that we are not the only persons who have failed through the infirmity of the flesh.I do not hold up Elijah's passions as any excuse for us indulging them, but if any are almost driven to despair because suchpassions have overcome them, let them shake off that despair. Nobody doubts that Elijah was a child of God! Nobody questionsthe fact that God loved him even when he sat fainting under the juniper tree, for He manifested special love to him then-solet no despondent heart, no broken spirit, no discouraged soul say-
"My God has quite forsaken me, My God will be gracious no more"- for it is not true! The Lord did not forsake Elijah and Hewill not forsake you if you trust in Him. Yet it may be that both you and Elijah have cherished passions of which He doesnot approve.
But, next, let us notice that this faintness of heart of Elijah was, no doubt, the result of a terrible reaction which hadcome upon his whole frame. On that memorable day when all Israel was gathered together, and he stood forth as a lone man tochampion the cause of Jehovah, having the 450 Prophets of Baal and the 400 Prophets of the groves in opposition to him, theremust have been a strong excitement upon him. You can see that he was not very calm when the two altars stood side by sideand the prophets of Baal from morning till noon cried in vain, "O Baal, hear us." Somehow, I like to think of Elijah in thesplendid furor of his soul, mocking them, and saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god! Either he is talking, or he is pursuing,or he is on a journey, or perhaps he sleeps and must be awaked!" And, in their fanaticism, they cried aloud and cut themselvesafter their manner with knives and lancets.
Elijah's blood was up to fever heat, his whole soul was aroused and he scoffed at and scorned those who could worship anythingexcept the one true God! And what a time of excitement that must have been when he bade the people go and fetch water fromthe sea and pour it on the bullock and the wood lying upon Jehovah's altar. When they had done as he bade them, he said, "Doit the second time." And then, "Do it the third time." And then, when the water ran round about the altar and filled the trenchas well, he prayed, and said, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel,and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this peoplemay know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumedthe burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And whenall the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God."
I suppose that Elijah had no trembling while the issue of the conflict was in suspense. I expect that he felt the utmost assurancethat the fire would come down-but even that confidence must have been accompanied by a wonderful excitement of spirit whilehe stood gazing up into Heaven and crying to God to send the fire as His answering signal from the sky. I can imagine, too,the intense delight and the holy triumph of the Prophet when it came! And I can conceive how the grand Prophetic frenzy cameupon him, making him to become both judge and executioner as he exclaimed, "Take the Prophets of Baal; let not one of themescape." Then, when he had executed the stern vengeance of God upon them, he had to go up to the top of Carmel and pray forthe rain. That was another season of intense strain upon his mind. And when he had sent to Ahab the message, "Prepare yourchariot, and get you down, that the rain stop you not," the old Prophet did what must have been very unusual for a man ofhis age and position, for he girded up his loins, and ran, like a footman, before the king, to prove his loyalty! So I donot wonder that when the day's work was done, he was very weary. And when the news came that Jezebel had determined to puthim to death, his heart sank within him. As he had risen high, so he fell low. As he had soared, he must descend.
It seems to be the way with us all-we must pay the price for any joy that we experience. We cannot have great exhilarationwithout having some measure of depression afterwards. Do not condemn yourself if this is your lot. Do not excuse yourselfif there is any measure of unbelief mingled with your depression, but do not condemn yourself for what is really as naturala result as the retirement of the sea after its waves have kissed the cliff. It must be so-night must follow day, winter mustsucceed to summer-and joyful spirits that rise aloft must sink again. We may sometimes wish that we could always keep on thelevel ground where some of our dear friends live. I have often envied them, especially when I have been down in the dumps.But when I have again ascended to the heights, I have not envied them in the least. At such times I would have pulled themup with me if it had been possible! But that I could not do. So, dear Friend, you may depend upon it that you cannot be Elijahupon Carmel without the probability that you will be Elijah under a juniper bush before long. The great Prophet of fire proveshimself to be only a man, after all-and in the time of testing you, also, will be as weak as other men.
Another reason for the Prophet's depression was, no doubt, his intense love to God and his grievous disappointment with thepeople. He had hoped that the test he had proposed would decide the great question, "If Jehovah is God, follow Him: but ifBaal, then follow him." He had staked everything upon that one issue, "The God that answers by fire, let Him be God." Andhe had proved to a demonstration that Jehovah was God. Israel ought to have renewed her covenant and to have returned to theGod of her fathers then and there, but that wicked woman Jezebel had power over the people and as long as she ruled the court,and the court ruled the nation, the cause of God could not come to the front. Elijah could not endure that and I think thatthe heaviest sorrows to a really gracious heart are the sins of the times, the transgressions of the multitude, the nationalsins that bite like asps into an earnest soul, especially if you have done something, or have seen it done by others whichought to have ended the discussion and settled the matter once and for all.
Sometimes, when we have trusted in God and He has worked a great deliverance, and when this has been done before the eyesof men who, if it had not been worked would have denied God's existence or power, we have been disappointed to find that theydid not candidly go the other way and say, "Since God has done this, we are bound to admit that there is power in prayer,and that God's promises in the Scriptures are not a dead letter." No, my Brothers and Sisters, they would not be convincedeven though God should rend the azure sky and put out His own right hand visibly before them! They would still say, "Thereis no God," and they would talk of the phenomenon which they had seen and, no doubt, interpret it upon some natural or scientificprinciples so as to fritter the whole thing away!
This kind of conduct eats into a godly man's spirit and there is not much cause to wonder that he who could say, "I have beenvery jealous for the Lord God of Hosts," should find himself in such a state of heart that he steals right away into the wildernessand never wants to see anybody again. Have you never sighed, as did the poet Cowper-
"O for a lodge in some vast wilderness, Some boundless contiguity of shade, Where rumor of oppression and deceit Of unsuccessfulor successful war Might never reach me more"- or have you never used the language of David, "Oh that I had wings like a dove!For then would I fly away, and be at
There was, probably, another and a minor reason for Elijah's great depression, that is, he was very weary I should supposethat he had gone a very long way without resting at all. Hot foot in hasty flight from the cruel Jezebel, he had passed througha great part of the land both of Israel and Judah and he had gone away alone into the wilderness. So he must have been verytired and that, of itself, would tend to the lowering of his spirits. It is always a pity, when you are taking stock of yourself,not to consider the condition of the weather, the state of your stomach and liver, and a great many other things. Though theymay seem small, yet there may be more in them than is apparent to the sight. I have known a man feel so bad that he thoughthe could not be a child of God, when, really, the main trouble was that he needed his dinner-for his spirits revived as soonas he had partaken of proper nourishment. Certainly, one of the lessons that this chapter teaches us is that when we get weary,or we suffer from some disease, so that the strength of our body begins to flag, then we are apt to say-
'Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought-
Do I love the Lord, or no?
Am I His, or am I not?"
Now that kind of anxiety is right enough, but sometimes the cause of it lies in some small thing, altogether apart from spiritualforces, yet something which the devil can use to torment us very much. You know how Paul was tormented by Satan, once, ina way that was very painful and trying. It was not the devil himself who came to him-it was "the messenger of Satan"-one ofhis errand boys. And he did not come to wound the Apostle with a sword-he only came to "buffet" him, to hit him, as it were,with a gloved hand. And when he pierced him, it was only with "a thorn in the flesh." Yet that little thing bothered the Apostleso much that he could not endure it and he had to cry to God about it. He says, "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice,that it might depart from me." It often happens that some little thing like that, which really, at another time, we shouldaltogether despise, may be the cause of intense depression of spirit. I know it is so and I beseech God's children, howeverunusual the advice may seem, to attach some importance to it, or else they may begin condemning themselves when there is nothingto condemn and accusing themselves when they are really right with God and all things are prospering with them. What terriblepain you may suffer from a little speck of dust in one of your eyes! You cannot see it, but you can feel it-and the tinieststone in your shoe-how difficult it makes your walking! And other little things will, often, as in the case of the Prophet'sweariness, cause grievous depression of spirit.
I must, however, point out to you that Elijah's prayer that he might die was a very foolish one. Let us look at it a minuteor two, and its folly will soon appear. He prayed that he might die. Why? Because he was afraid that he would die! That isthe odd thing about his request-he was running away from Jezebel because she had threatened to kill him, yet he prayed thathe might die! This was very inconsistent on his part, but we always are inconsistent when we are unbelieving. There is nothingin the world more ridiculous than unbelieving fears. If we could but see them as we shall see them one day, when faith isstrong and we get into clearer light, we would laugh at ourselves and then weep over ourselves to think that we should beso foolish. You run away from death and then ask that you may die-that is what Elijah did, so it is no cause for wonder ifpoor ordinary mortals, such as we are, act in the same fashion as this great Prophet of God did!
Further, it was great folly for him to wish to die because there was more need, even according to his own account, that heshould continue to live then than there ever had been before. What did he say? "I, even I only, am left; and they seek mylife, to take it away." But, Elijah, if you die, there will be an end of the Lord's people if your reckoning is correct! Surely,if you are the only one left, you ought to pray that you may live on until there are some more to carry on the work. It isa pity that the coal of Israel should be utterly quenched and that the last lamp should be put out. The reason that the Prophetgave for wanting to die was the very best reason he could have given for wanting to live! That is strange, but we are verystrange creatures. There is not a man here who is not foolish at times-certainly, he who is in the pulpit takes precedenceover you all in that respect-we all, some time or other, let out the folly that is in us, and we only need to be driven upinto a corner, as Elijah was, and our folly will be discovered as was his! He ought to have prayed to live, yet he prayedthat he might die!
Another thing that proves his folly is that he never was to die at all, and he never did die, for he went up by a whirlwindinto Heaven! It is a remarkable fact that he who prayed that he might die is one of the two men who leaped over the
ditch of death and entered into life without dying! I wonder whether, as he rode to Heaven in that chariot of fire, Elijahsaid to himself, "Why, I am the man who prayed that I might die!" If he did, he must have smiled with holy wonder that Goddid not take him at his word-and with sacred pleasure that his prayer was left unanswered. It was a petition that never oughtto have been presented and you and I, Beloved, often have good reason to thank God that He does not answer our prayers. Wemay sing with quaint Ralph Erskine-
"I'm heard when answered soon or late
And heard when I no answer get
Yes, kindly answered when refused,
And friendly treated when harshly used." So was it with the Prophet Elijah-God answered him by not answering him because Hehad in store for him some better thing than he had asked!
Note, also, that the reason Elijah gave for his prayer was an untrue one. He said, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away mylife." But it was not enough-he had not done enough for his Lord. He thought that he had. He imagined that he had gone tothe very verge of his capacity. He had exalted God in the midst of the people and put the whole nation to a crucial test,so he said, "It is enough. I can do no more." But he had a great deal more to do! He had to go down to Naboth's vineyard andcharge Ahab with the guilt of Naboth's death. He had to rebuke the idolatry of Ahaziah and, above all, he had to call outhis successor, who would keep the Prophetic lamp burning in the midst of Israel! Elijah said, "It is enough," yet it was notenough even for his own enjoyment, for the Lord had more blessings in store for him! And you and I, Beloved, have often feltthat we have been, like Naphtali, "satisfied with favor and full with the blessing of the Lord," yet the Lord has given usstill richer favors and choicer blessings. It was so with Elijah, for he was to have that wonderful revelation of God on MountHoreb. He had more to enjoy and the later life of Elijah appears to have been one of calm communion with his God. He seemsnever to have had another fainting fit, but to the end his sun shone brightly without a cloud. So it was not enough! But howcould he know that it was? It is God alone who knows when we have done enough and enjoyed enough-we do not know.
Elijah also said, "O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers." But that was probably no more true thanwas the other reason that he gave for wishing to die. We do not know anything about his father, or any of his ancestors, butit is not likely that any one of them was at all comparable to him. Elijah was a grand man, a truly great man! God had favoredhim far beyond his fathers and intended to still do so. He was a man who walked altogether on a higher path than the restof his fellows and while it was well for him to be humble, it was not well for him to be so humble as to forget the greatthings that God had done for him.
Come, then, my dear Brother or Sister, if you are sitting under your juniper tree and saying, "Let me die, for it is enough."Correct your foolish request-examine the reason that suggests it and you will find it too weak to justify such a desire! Andso may God help you to abandon it at once!
II. Now, in the second place, it is a very pleasing task to speak for a few minutes upon GOD'S TENDERNESS TO ELIJAH IN THISTIME OF WEAKNESS.
It is always well for ministers, and all who have the care of souls, to watch how God deals with those who are in trouble,just as a young surgeon, when he walks the hospital, is eager to see how a master in the healing art treats his patients.The first thing that God did with Elijah was a very simple thing, he let him sleep. There is the poor Prophet down in thedumps-he wants to die but the Lord lets him sleep, instead-and he slept soundly, too, for he needed an angel to wake him!And soon he fell asleep again and a second time he had to be awakened. Rest was the one thing that he most needed, so, by-
"Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep"-
God gave His servant rest. Some people do not seem to think that the Lord's servants need any rest. They want us to be alwaysat work, fulfilling this engagement and that. But this is the way to bring us quickly to our graves! Yet we do not serve ahard Master-His Church is often thoughtless and unkind, but He never is, so He gave His servant Elijah the sleep that he mostof all needed just then.
What was the next thing that God did? It seems a very small matter, yet it was the best thing he could do for Elijah. Thatis, the Lord fed him. When the angel awakened him, "he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruseof water at his head. And he did eat and drink and laid him down again." Now, I am afraid that if you and I
had been there, we should have begun talking to Elijah and have worried the poor man by telling him how wrongly he had beenacting. Instead of doing that, the angel let him have a cake and then let him go back to sleep. That was the best way of caringfor him-and there is many a hungry and weary child of God who needs food and rest more than anything else. The spirit needsto be fed and the body needs feeding also. Do not forget these matters! It may seem to some people that I ought not to mentionsuch small things as food and rest, but these may be the very first elements in really helping a poor depressed servant ofGod. It is not surprising that God becomes Cake-Maker to His children, for we know that He is their Bed-Maker. David said,concerning the man who considers the poor, "The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: You will make all hisbed in his sickness." There is nothing that is really necessary or beneficial which God will not do for His children. If theyserve Him so zealously that they get banged up in His service, he will care for them and bring them round again, for He knowshow to do it. And very likely, like Elijah, they shall have their sleep, first, and then their cake.
The next comfort that Elijah had was blessed nursing. He had an angelic visitor to keep him company. The angel came to himand delivered the Lord's message, "Arise: eat." He only uttered two words, but two words from an angel are better than a greatmany from some other persons! "Arise: eat." That was God's message to Elijah and, Beloved, it is very sweet when God letsHis servants know that His angels are round about them, encompassing them, taking care of them, as when Jacob was met at Mahanaimby the host of God and was comforted before he met his brother Esau. And many weary ones still find that God's angelic messengersare round about them, so that they should not be left alone in the time of their trial.
The next thing that God did for Elijah, after He had allowed him to finish his journey and get to Horeb, was that He permittedhim to tell his grief. You may have noticed that he told the story twice. He knew what he was grieving about, so he statedit very definitely-and the Lord allowed him to tell it. It is often a wonderful relief to be able to tell out your grief,to pull up the sluices and let the waters of sorrow run away. If no one but God shall hear it-if no human ear should listento your complaining-yet it is a very sweet thing to unburden your heart. One hymn-writer says-
"Bear and forbear, and silent be;
Tell no man your misery"-
but I am not sure about the wisdom of that advice. At any rate, tell it to God, for He allowed His poor servant Elijah topour out into His ear the sad tale of his woe.
This done, the Lord helped to restore His servant by revealing Himself, and revealing His ways to him. He made Elijah seethat God is not so apparent in terrific agencies as in quieter forms, that He does not always accomplish His purposes by earthquakeand fire. The Lord let him see that "a still small voice" was being heard throughout Israel, although the Prophet thoughtthat no good had come of his testimony. And thus he was cheered.
Next, the Lord gave him good news. He told Elijah that he still had 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal-andthat revelation still further cheered the Prophet's heart! Then the Lord did what perhaps was best of all for Elijah, he gavehim some more work to do. He sent him off about his Master's business again and I guarantee you that when Elijah went backover that road, it was with a very different step from that which brought him down to Beer-sheba. He had come along terrifiedand distressed, but now he goes back with the majesty that belongs to the Tishbite- he is afraid of no Jezebel now! He callsout Elisha to be his successor and he denounces Ahab-and does it bravely and boldly-and no one hears of his wanting to hideaway again! God had brought His servant up out of his depression, in the way I have described, and he never went back againto that sad condition.
Now I come to the practical conclusion of the matter which is this. Let us learn from Elijah's experience, first, that itis very seldom right for us to pray that we may die. It was not right for Elijah and it is very seldom right for anybody todo so. It is never right for any of you, whose death would be your eternal ruin, to wish to die. Perhaps I am addressing someunconverted people who, in their impatience against God, have wished to die. What would you have gained by death? That daywould be all darkness and not light to you! It would devour you as stubble. For any man to lay violent hands on himself inorder to escape from trouble is the maddest of all actions! It is leaping into the fire to escape the sparks-casting yourselfinto Hell in order to avoid some temporary depression of spirit! Oh, if you are ever tempted in that way, God grant you Graceat once to say, "Get you behind me, Satan!" Even if you feel a desire to die in order to get out of this world of misery,crush it down. If you are an unconverted man, whatever the misery of this world is, it is noth-
ing compared with the misery of the world to come! It is far better to bear the ills you have than to fly to others that youknow not of-even common sense should teach you that.
As for the man of God, it is seldom, if ever, that he should get into such a state of heart as to wish for death. I know,Beloved, that we may sometimes very properly desire death. When we have had a more than usually clear sight of Christ, wehave longed to be with Him. May not the bride desire to be perpetually in the Bridegroom's company? When sacred song has sometimescarried us on its bright wings of silver up into the clear atmosphere that is round about the gates of Heaven, we have wishedto enter-we have longed that we might see our God. I have no doubt it is right enough, when we are wearied, to wish for theeverlasting rest. When we are conscious of sin, it is right enough to wish to be where sin can never come and temptation cannever more annoy. There must be such wishes. There must be such aspirations, for, to depart and to be with Christ is far betterthan to abide here. But we must never get into such a craving and longing for Heaven that we are not content to bide our timehere. We do not like men who work for us to be always looking for Saturday night to come. And there are some Christians whoare always wanting their Saturday night to arrive. Be willing to do a good day's work, to do a good week'swork, and then theSabbath will be all the sweeter to you when you get up-
"Where congregations ne'er break up, And Sabbaths have no end."
How long you and I are to be here, is no concern of ours. After all, we are not our own masters-we are our Lord's servants.If He thinks we can glorify Him better here than there, it must be our choice to remain here. I remember a good woman, towhom the question was put when she was very sick, and very full of pain, "Do you wish to die or to live?" She answered, "Iwish to have no wish about the matter, but to leave it in the hands of God." "But suppose the Lord Jesus Christ were to sayto you, 'You are to have whichever you wish'? What would you choose?" She said, "I would ask Him to decide for me, but I wouldnot like to have my choice." You see, if we were dying and we said, "This is our own choice," we should lack some comfortwhich we might otherwise have had. But when we feel, "It was no choice of ours, it was the choice of God that we should die,"then it is sweet. And if you live, you can say, "I am not living now in answer to an impatient cry of mine-I am living becauseGod willed it and there is a purpose to be served by it." And then it is sweet to live. So leave the matter alone, dear Friend,and let the Lord do as He wills with you.
Elijah wished to die and prayed an unwise prayer, but our blessed Master said to His Father, "Nevertheless, not as I will,but as You will," and in all the throes of His death-agony, there was not a syllable of impatience, but a perfect resignationto the will of God. That is the first practical lesson.
And the second is that whenever we do wish to die, we must take care that it is from the very best of motives and that thereis no selfishness in it-no wish to escape from suffering, or from service. We must wish to depart to be with Christ becauseit is far better-
"Let me be with You where You are, My Savior, my eternal rest! Then only will this longing heart Be fully and forever blest."
And, lastly, there is one more practical lesson for us to learn-you and I have not the slightest idea of what is in storefor us on earth. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has preparedfor them that love Him" up yonder! And you do not know what He has prepared for you even here. Elijah says, "Let me die."But, Elijah, would you not like to live to veil your face in the Presence of God on Horeb? "Oh, yes!" he would say, "let melive till then." And, Elijah, would you not like to live to rebuke Ahab for his sin against Naboth? "Oh, yes! I should liketo live till then." Would you not like to live till you have cast your mantle over that blessed servant of God, Elisha, whois to succeed you? "Oh, yes!" he would say, "let me live till then." And would you not like to live, Elijah, till you haveseen the schools of the Prophets raised by your influence, which shall live, after both you and Elisha are gone, to keep alivethe work of God? I think I hear the old man say, "Oh, yes! Let me live till then. Happy shall I be if I can see schools institutedfor the training of ministers who shall go and preach in God's name. Yes, let me live till then!"
And you do not know, Brother, how much there is for you yet to live for. And you, my Sister, do not talk about dying, foryou also have a great deal more to do before you get to Heaven-service for your Savior that will make Heaven all the betterwhen you get there! God has such blessings in store for some of you that when they come to you, you will be
like men that dream, and your mouth shall be filled with laughter, and your tongue with singing, and you will say, "The Lordhas done great things for us; of which we are glad." Therefore, be of good courage and strengthen your hearts, and still waitupon the Lord until He comes. And may His blessing be with you forever! Amen.