“When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his robe and went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Suddenly a voice asked him, ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’” 1 Kings 19:13 (NET)
Sliding carefully out of the hospital bed, I steadied myself slowly. Just breathing took effort while I tried to absorb my new reality. I pinched myself. No, this was real.
My body had succumbed to pneumonia after a stressful season in my life. Pneumonia and I had been acquainted before, many times. But my biggest struggle wasn’t physical. It was mental.
What occupied my mind was worry over the well-being of my five children while I was in a hospital away from them. Fear over what would happen to me filled my mind as the doctors did not have answers. And doubt deceived me as I wondered why God allowed me to go through pneumonia once again.
“Why am I here, God?”
“Will you let Me use you here?” was His response.
Sometimes I wish God would just give answers instead of questions or remove the problem, but He is helping me to think higher. So often I don’t see what He sees or think what He thinks.
God’s thoughts are greater than ours. (Isaiah 55:8) Believing our thoughts above God’s surrenders our mindset to our emotions and flesh rather than to the Spirit. (Romans 8:5-6) Fixing our eyes on Jesus sets us free. (Colossians 3:2) But this is so hard when our own thoughts deceive us. (Jeremiah 17:9)
When life is too much, our own thoughts can defeat us, tempting us to abandon faith as we wander into the wilderness of negative mindsets rather than resting in God’s Word and promises.
Elijah, a man God used to change the minds of masses, had his mindset breached by the enemy when Elijah was threatened by Jezebel. When these threats intensified and became personal, terror gripped Elijah’s mind and he fled for his life.
This led him into the wilderness — literally and mentally. Elijah allowed his mindset to shift from bold faith to abject fear, causing him to doubt the same God who had just brought down fire from heaven against the prophets of Baal and their false “gods.” (1 Kings 18:19-40)
The story of Elijah reminds me that the enemy’s tactics in mental warfare are nothing new. Fear. Hopelessness. Doubt. Confusion. But in that place of emotional turmoil, God challenged Elijah by offering both His presence and a question to reset his mind. God reminded Elijah that He was with him. He asked Elijah this question twice, in 1 Kings 19:9 and 1 Kings 19:13: “Why are you here, Elijah?”
Elijah’s answer seemed reasonable as to why he had fled to the wilderness. Circumstances. Fear. Death threats. (1 Kings 19:10)
But God knew where Elijah was. He knows where we are. His question to Elijah is the same question He asks us. His questions aren’t about how we got into our mess but about helping us to think of His purposes while in that place. When life just becomes too much, our God invites us to think higher than our own thoughts. Even when we shrink back in fear, God still has a plan.
God was not through with Elijah yet. Though Elijah had retreated this time, God used Elijah mightily to mentor Elisha, who would eventually take his place as prophet. (1 Kings 19:16) God’s directives for our lives and His grace to get us there are greater than the limits we have in our minds.
That day God asked me, “Will you let Me use you here?” My thought was, Oh, anywhere but here. But yes, Lord, here I am; send me.
God wants to rescue us right in the middle of places we wish we could escape and invites us to go on mission with Him. There in that hospital room, I answered the call to be on mission. I wandered the halls with my oxygen tank and saggy hospital gown, writing scriptures on the dry erase board and giving gifts to other patients. And suddenly I had uncontainable joy. My suffering was not about me, and it was not in vain. God had me there on mission, and He even moved in the heart of a nurse to accept Jesus as her Savior.
Like me, you might have struggled with the same question: “Why am I here?” But why something happened is not as important as what God’s purposes are in that place. We do not have to stay trapped in negative thoughts. We can make up our minds to see past our circumstances, adopting God’s thoughts as our own, transformed by the mind of Christ even in the fires of this life. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Jesus, help me to choose Your thoughts over my own even when the waters rise higher than I think I can bear. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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It’s our own mind, but we can struggle to make it up. Negative mindsets limit our existence by keeping us bound in habits and attitudes unless we know how to break free. Learn to identify triggers and navigate negative mindsets biblically, and gain practical tips to help you adopt the mind of Christ: Order Make Up Your Mind: Unlock Your Thoughts, Transform Your Mind today, written by Denise Pass and Michelle Nietert, LPC.
For more encouraging resources from Denise, visit her online at denisepass.com. Order Make Up Your Mind and receive a bundle of goodies here!
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (NIV)
How do you examine your thoughts? Look up one scripture that speaks to negative thoughts you are having, and ask God to help you. He always will. Share your thoughts in the comments!
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