The PP scene that came to mind this week as I heard the story of Elijah’s confrontation with Ahab, the wicked king of Israel (“more [evil] than all who were before him”, 1 Kings 16:30) was the one where pilgrims Christian and Hopeful were wasting away in the dungeon of Doubting Castle. Christian’s disobedience had landed them there when he neglected the warning to stay strictly on the Way of the King and not wander to the right or to the left. The Way passed through lands belonging to Giant Despair, who loved to capture pilgrims and make them useless in service to the True and Good King. Despair and Doubt were his weapons, and by beating the pair with these bludgeons, this wicked servant of the Prince of this World succeeded in clouding Christian’s mind with dark thunderboomers of hopelessness, resignation, and defeat.
But Hopeful (gotta love that Hopeful) would not give in, clinging to the Promises of the One who said His "eyes keep watch on the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). He reminded Christian that the Key to Escape from Doubt and Despair had been with him all along – as long as he had the faithful promises of the Son of the King in his possession, he did not have to succumb to the humiliation and darkness.
For many years, I wrongly connected the key in Christian’s pocket to promises that the Lord would get me out of trouble. But that’s not what the beautiful consolation of this scene is about. There is no promise to be kept free of trouble in this life. The key here is the same one Elijah relied upon when he found himself watching the Brook Cherith dry up and feeling the armies of Ahab breathing down his neck: not escape from trouble, but confidence in a God who keeps His promises. What made Elijah one of the “good” guys spoken of in Proverbs 15 is not that he was one of those saved from trouble, but one of those the Lord saved through faith – belief that God would do as He said. The Lord told Elijah, “Arise, go… I have commanded.” When Elijah arose and went, he saw what the Lord had arranged and, you might say, patted that little Key in his pocket.