When we engage with a story—in a movie, a book, whatever—we tend to identify with a character, empathising with them, egging them on, and generally living vicariously through them. For example in the Elijah narratives in 1&2 Kings, most Christian readers would identify with the prophet (except maybe in 2 Kings 1:9-14). After all, he has quite the enviable life:
- He’s miraculously sustained by God during a severe drought (1 Kings 17)
- He takes on false religion and wins (1 Kings 18)
- He has a spectacular meeting with God (1 Kings 19)
- He is taken home in style (2 Kings 2)
But there were lots of other true believers in Yahweh—the faithful remnant of 1 Kings 19:18—whose lives weren’t quite as desirable. What if you were to identify with one of them instead?
- Those who suffered the dire consequences of the drought and famine
- Those who were killed by Jezebel and her lackeys (1 Kings 18:4, 19:10)
- Those who were hidden in caves, totally dependent someone whose life was also at risk (1 Kings 18:4)
- Those who were unjustly killed for no fault of their own (Naboth, 1 Kings 21:7-16)
The author of Hebrews saw no contradiction in seamlessly transitioning from the servants of God who experienced victory in this life to those who didn’t (Hebrews 11:32-40, transition in verse 35).
If you’re a true believer in Jesus Christ, you might be a Naboth in this life, but remember that your “light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
This post is a distillation of various sermons I’ve heard from Don Carson, John Currid and Dale Ralph Davis.