I love preaching on Easter weekend. 14,000 meetings all year long are worth it to get to give a sermon on the pastor’s Super Bowl of Sundays. Proclaiming and celebrating Jesus—His power, His love, the cross He endured, and His resurrection. “The sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall”(Malachi 4:2 ESV). That dancing calf busting out of the stall after a cold winter! That’s me preaching on Easter.
But then comes the threat. You’ve noticed, haven’t you? It might be the emotional rebound you feel after giving every drop of adrenaline-laced gusto you could muster. It might be the downer of a hateful comment someone gave you out of the blue. It might even be a twinge of depression. Or maybe it’s disappointment because you feel it wasn’t the great day you hoped it would be.
I’ve felt the joy of twice the crowd, along with the after-glow blow. I remember one time, I’d given what I thought was a tremendous sermon. There seemed to be a great response. I was greeting people afterward when a lady came by, mad as she could be. “Pastor, there’s no toilet paper in the lady’s restroom!” Later, I had to laugh…I guess.
Another time, I got a call from the Sheriff’s department. The deputy asked if I knew a certain man. I said yes, he’d visited our church a couple of times recently. Then he said, “You need to know that he’s been spreading the word that he wants to kill you.” Oh, wow! (By the way, he didn’t.)
Elijah knew what it was to experience threats just after experiencing the greatest day he could have imagined. He asked for and saw God rain down fire from heaven. You know the scene. But then came the threats.
The queen sent a message to Elijah. He had 24 hours to live. She already had a proven track record when it came to killing prophets. Talk about a hateful comment! I imagine Elijah was shocked that the miracle of God on Mount Carmel didn’t change her hatred. You’d think God’s total victory over 850 representatives of false gods would have dampened the queen’s opposition to Almighty God and his prophet.
Elijah became filled with anxiety. He laid down under the “broom” tree. He felt like a failure. “O Lord, take my life” (1 Kings 19:4).
After big days, just know the threat may follow, but your Lord wants you to know His amazing grace and love. He’s more powerful than anything or anyone. He’s got His eye on you. Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:4–7).
How did God respond to Elijah? He was gracious. He provided food. God had his eye on Elijah. The kindness of God caused Elijah to continue on.
Are you under the after-Easter threat, feeling, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23)?
Let me point you to the strength-giving compassion of your Father. Ask Him to cause you to be “rooted and grounded” in the love of Christ right now. It’s a powerful prayer your Father will answer quickly, “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love”(Ephesians 3:16–17 ESV) may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints just how big His love is for you.
You gave a great sermon last Sunday. Now preach to yourself.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation (Psalm 42:5 ESV).
After you pray, tell your soul in no uncertain terms, “Hope in God.” Hope in God through Christ.
Father, cause me to experience Your love. Cause me to be so amazed at Your power and glory that all other fears become nothing. Cause me to put my hope in You. Cause me to be strong and stable, rooted and grounded in Your love. By the riches of Your glory, cause me to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit. In the name of Jesus, by the power of His resurrection.