God has reserved for himself a remnant. This was true in the days of Elijah, and, Paul says, it is true in the new day of the gospel. How? In the days of Elijah, when it seemed like all of Israel had turned its back on God, seven thousand Israelites were true. Now, in the days of the gospel, when it seems like all of Israel has rejected Jesus as the Messiah, we must remember that there are Israelites who have named Jesus as Lord. Indeed, we must remember that Christianity started as a Jewish movement when three thousand Jews came to faith at Pentecost. Yes, Paul says, most of Israel has failed to recognize Jesus for who he is, but God has reserved a remnant for himself.
In these words, we see an important spiritual discipline at work. Rather than looking at what God hasn’t done, Paul looks at what God has done. When he does, he sees that God has indeed been faithful, though not according to people’s expectations. No, God has not brought most of Israel to Christ. But, he has brought some of Israel to Christ, which means that he has not completely turned his back on his people. Actually, grace is still being shown to Israel in the remnant.
There are moments in our own lives when it is tempting to focus only on what God hasn’t done for us. Maybe we are experiencing unanswered prayers or unfulfilled hopes. The key now is to give God the benefit of the doubt. Okay – he hasn’t worked in the way we wanted or expected, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been working. Can we put our expectations aside long enough to find where God is at work in our lives? If we can identify that work, we’ll see that we are indeed recipients of grace. That realization will bring us to a new place of thanksgiving and insight. It will empower us to see to let go of our preconceptions of how God should work and see things from his vantage point. Only then will we be able to pray and walk accordingly.