This Is Why Real Success Often Feels Like Ultimate Failure

If you’ve ever failed, then be of good cheer…you are just like Elijah!

Think with me for a second back to 1 Kings 18. Elijah and King Ahab are atop Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal are facing off against Elijah to decide once and for all whose god has ultimate power.

The prophets of Baal make utter fools of themselves, spending nearly the entire day doing everything they can think of to get Baal to act in their favor. Of course, Baal isn’t real, so nothing happens.

Elijah then steps up to take his turn. He has a truckload of water dumped on his altar. And then, after praying, the Almighty God sends down fire to consume Elijah’s well-soaked sacrifice.

But as the prophet of God descends the mountain and continues his journey, he becomes incredibly…discouraged.

1 Kings 19:10 is where Elijah vents his frustration before the Lord. He says that despite all his service, and despite the decisive victory on Mount Carmel, the people still haven’t turned from their evil ways. And now Elijah himself is a wanted man!

Elijah feels like a failure. All of his work has been in vain!

But do you remember what happens next?

God takes him up another mountain to show Elijah, and I believe to show us, what the work of God often looks like.

Elijah experiences a mighty wind, an earthquake, and a fire. All of which the Lord was not in.

You probably know it well…

The Lord was there in “…the sound of a gentle whisper”.

God wasn’t going to transform the hearts of Israel through a miraculous display as Elijah might have thought. Rather, God’s work was going to be done in the still small voice the Almighty uses to speak to the human heart. 

This runs contrary to what we all want. We want big attendance, and lots of decisions made, and life-changing experiences all around. I think, too often, we anticipate God is about to work when our effort is peaking…when we’ve gone as ‘big’ as we can.

But as God was teaching Elijah, I think He also teaches us.

God’s work isn’t always most visible in the spectacular moments we orchestrate. Rather, He’s working in a whisper to turn hearts toward Him.

So the next time you think you’ve failed, the next time your big event doesn’t seem to generate the response you’d hoped for, remember Elijah. God is always at work, but often He chooses to do His best work…in a whisper.

This is a guest post by our good friends over at

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