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.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.