This week in the Story of Everything we get introduced to the prophet Elijah – and what an introduction! He prophesies of a coming drought, he is sustained by ravens, sees the working of miracles such as the provision for a widow and the raising of her son from the dead, the spectacular confrontation of Ahab and the false prophets of Baal at Mt Carmel, and finally prophesies rain to finish chapter 18. As the bible says, it is not hard to see “the hand of the LORD was on Elijah. (18:46)”
In the New Testament, James tells us, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours(James 5:17a)” Wait a minute! What? Um…are you talking about me? Like Elijah? If the Elijah of chapters 17 and 18 is difficult to relate to, the Elijah of chapter 19 is not. It is a classic ‘mountain top to valley’ experience. Elijah sees God avenged and the impotent false prophets exposed. Surely the evil Queen will be overthrown, and the nation will return to the Lord. No sooner is he on top of the world does he hear from a messenger sent from Queen Jezebel. She is mad as a wet cat and vows to kill Elijah by the next day! Now this I can relate to: in fear Elijah runs for his life. He goes a day’s journey into the wilderness and his discouragement is as deep as it is evident: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers. (19:4)” He is discouraged, despondent, and self-loathing. All he can manage to do is sleep. After twice encouraged to “Arise and eat”, he went with some renewed strength 40 days and nights to Mount Horeb, the mount of God.
Something to See:
While renewed somewhat physically, his spirit is still impoverished. His perception of reality is distorted. He is convinced he is a failure. He blames others. He feels alone (see vv10,14). Can you see yourself in Elijah when you are in the midst of trials and suffering? How do we feel when things do not go the ‘way they should’; when what we get out of life seems out of line with what we put in? In times like these it is easy to see God as silent; we may be disappointed or even angry with him. Be encouraged that when Elijah was not at his best the Lord did not let him go. When forces inside or outside threaten, there is One who seeks us, sustains us, and sends us!