If you keep up to date with the happenings in South Africa, and the rest of the world, you’ll understand how disheartening it can be to read the news – seeing one bad situation after another. Personally, it takes a massive toll out of me when I take some time to read the news and stay up to date. I know it’s important to do so but staying in my protective bubble is often more appealing.
There is so much beauty and good out there if you look for it. Unfortunately, the good has become overshadowed by the bad as media dictates what gets airtime and in which tone and manner. Because of the way my mind works, I often get stuck in thought patterns that lead me further down the hole of negative thinking about our world, my country and my future in it. I get sad at the loss and devastation in our nation, and angry at those who are meant to be leading us into a better future. Luckily, I have people to pull me out of this dark hole and remind me of my faith and belief in the hope that comes from our Father.
Separating Man and God
I’ve been reading through 1 Kings recently, and as the name indicates, it tells of the lives of the various kings of Israel and surrounding region.
As I was reading through the life of Elijah (1 Kings 17 and 18), I came across his prophecy of famine during the reign of Ahab. Ahab came into succession in a time where the legacy of the kings before him had been sin, disobedience and idol worship. His forefathers had denied the word of the Lord and had chosen to lead in a way that pleases the flesh rather than that pleases the Lord. As a result, Ahab was suffering the consequences of what had happened before him. To be fair, he was also worshipping Baal and hadn’t obeyed the call of God.
After Elijah prophesies the famine and it comes to pass, Ahab makes it his mission to kill Elijah because of what he has done. Of course, we know that Elijah does not have the power to produce a famine nor does he have the power to control what God does – he’s merely the messenger. But Ahab needs someone to blame for the famine, and rather than taking responsibility for his poor leadership and of those before him, he blames Elijah.
We can see in scriptures like these in the Bible how leaders of a nation who weren’t following the call of God, led their people astray and devastation often ensued.
Separated from True Leadership
In 1 Kings 17:8-24 we read about how Elijah found refuge and provision in a widow’s household. The Lord ensures that her oil and flour does not run out during the famine, and her and her son and Elijah are cared for by God. His goodness overflows in her obedience. However, when her son takes ill and stops breathing, she becomes saddened and upset because she blames her past sins for his death.
This struck me. What happened that she assumed that as a consequence for her past mistakes, God would kill her child even after He had showed His goodness through His provision?
Man. Bad leadership. Broken families.
From what I’ve observed, our world, then and now, is filled with bad leaders. With leaders who choose their own pleasure and gratification over their followers and nations. Fathers who don’t know how to love their families well. Managers who don’t have the emotional intelligence to be caring for others. Heads of nations who choose the corrupt guidance of their advisors over what they know is right for the people. We live in a world where we’re stuck in a nasty cycle of bad leaders raising up more bad leaders.
Of course, Elijah takes the son before the Lord and asks Him to heal the son. God heals him and the woman’s faith in God is restored – His goodness softens her heart and leads her to Him. Why? Because when we live in submission and obedience to God – goodness is the fruit.
Earthly Leadership Versus Godly Leadership
Ahab and his forefathers are prime examples of bad leadership. They were given the authority and power to lead and influence their nation. God beckoned them towards Himself, He gave them instructions on how to lead their nation well, yet they hardened their hearts and turned towards Baal worship. They may have flourished, but their nation suffered as well as the generations thereafter, who often suffered even more (with the famine, for example).
The widow is an example of the suffering. She thought that she was being punished for her wrongdoings due to the leadership that she had been exposed to her whole life. Her expectation of a leader was selfish and dismissive rule. These expectations projected onto her understanding of God.
If we look at our lives and the lives of people in our communities, we see families who have absent fathers or fathers who were never taught how to be a good father; we have people who can’t relate to God as a father because they never experienced it on earth; we have people who expect horrible punishment and consequences for their wrongdoing even when they apologise; we have people who expect God to be bad or non-existent because of the leadership they get modelled here on earth.
And if we look at earthly leadership and how detrimental submitting to that kind of authority can be, why would people want to submit to a God? The God who seems to enjoy suffering and pain when He has the ability to heal, provide and stop bad things from happening? When we only look to our earthly leaders as role models, we definitely cannot easily grasp or trust the goodness and love of our Father.
Obedience and Submission is key
Choosing to obey God can be difficult. If it weren’t difficult, we wouldn’t sin. But temptation and evil are all around us. Generations of disobedience and bad leadership have resulted in a world where hearts have become hardened to God and His truth. The result is a broken world – the evidence of that is all around us.
The scriptures of 1 Kings 17 and 18 spoke to me of the importance of obedience to God and submission to His will. It has taken me a long time to truly understand why God has set out the rules and boundaries that He has: ultimately, they are best for us, both in this life and in light of eternity. When we turn our hearts to God and submit to His will (which isn’t always easy), good fruit results and prosperity – emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically – starts to flow.
This made me realise that I, and we, need to start doing two things in our own lives today and trust that the fruit will overflow into the communities around us – we need to take God-instructed action and pray. The Bible clearly instructs us on how to raise families, be good spouses, and be good neighbours. We need to obey and implement those instructions in our lives to ensure that we may be good leaders, spouses and parents so that those who interact with us walk away better for the interaction. We each carry this responsibility. Together we can raise a generation of good leaders to start righting the wrongs of the leaders before them.
As with the challenge CBN SA always puts out through our Take 3 videos, we need to take each situation going on in our own lives and in the world and bring it before the Lord at the foot of the cross. We need to cover our families and nation in prayer. We need to give God authority to take action in those situations and we need to pray that hearts soften.
As overwhelming as the situations around me and in the world gets, I am so thankful that there is a hope that I can have faith in that is far bigger than the situations around me. I choose to put my trust in a leader and Father that is good and is victorious. Thinking about how I, or you, can change the world is very intimidating. But you can start small and change the world around you.
Start with yourself. Start at home. Obey the beckoning of God and submit to His authority. And watch as He blesses your obedience and His will is done in ways you could never have imagined.