American poet Robert Frost wrote: “I turned to speak to God / About the world’s despair; / But to make bad matters worse / I found God wasn’t there.” Maybe you’ve felt that way too. Desperate and downcast from the suffering in your own life or seeing evil appear to go unchecked around you, you may wonder where God is in all of this mess. And when God doesn’t appear to answer prayer, the future looks even darker than it did before.
The prophet Elijah came to a point in his life where he had abandoned all hope. Wicked Queen Jezebel was putting to death the prophets of the true God. The people had turned to worship false idols. By his calculations, Elijah was the last faithful believer left, and now he was running for his life too. Exhausted after fleeing through the wilderness, he plopped himself down under a broom tree and told God that he had had enough. In his desperation, Elijah wanted to die under that tree, but it would have served no good purpose.
Many years earlier, Adam and Eve had desperately tried to hide under the leaves of a different tree. They had eaten fruit expressly forbidden by God and now felt the pangs of a guilty conscience. When they heard the Lord approaching, they may have thought they were going to die, but hiding under that tree also served no good purpose.
Fortunately for them and for all of us, many years later the Son of God, Jesus Christ, died on the tree of the cross. It was no act of desperation but a carefully planned sacrifice which brought healing and forgiveness. In Jesus, God was reconciling to himself the world of sinners. Jesus’ death paid for the evil we have done and opens the door to heaven for all who trust in him. God has not abandoned his people nor forsaken his promises. In Jesus we find undying hope.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, when I am frustrated with evil and ready to give up, remind me how you gave yourself up to defeat evil for me. Amen.