Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” (1Kings 19:1-4 NAS).
Elijah just had a great victory. He had demonstrated a faith to trust that God would bring a great victory where he saw the Lord defeat the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah (1 Kings 18:19). He saw the show, the weakness of their false gods, and he had them eliminated because they taught Israel to worship false gods.
But as soon as Ahab told Jezebel what Elijah had done she threatened to kill him and we are told in verse three “he was afraid and arose and ran for his life…” (v. 3). He goes off by himself a day’s journey into the wilderness and pleads for God to take his life.
It is amazing how our confidence in what God can do can be unconquerable one moment and then we hide like frightened children the next. While there are many factors that contribute to this rollercoaster of emotion, Elijah had a great triumph when it came to standing up for God but withered when he personally found himself in harm’s way. Our perspective of life, of how we see God and how we see ourselves plays such a huge role in the way we live and the unsettling element of this is it often feels the same as Elijah’s experience – one moment we are more than conquerors, the next we want to die.
TRIP TO OREGON
I flew from Portland Oregon back to Minneapolis today. Oregon has an interesting situation right now. Along with some other States and Canada they have raging forest fires licking up timber. The 4800 acre fire in the Mt. Hood area is creating road closures, evacuations and a thick, ashen cloud cover over the city of Portland along with many other cities. When we took off this morning you could see the “darkness” that hung over the city like a thick fog was ash and smoke from these massive fires even though they are miles away. The sun looks like a bright orange ball searing through the ash cloud and it felt a little ominous as we were taking off. But as we gained altitude we rose up above the ash cloud, broke through the clouds and found the sun pouring through the plane windows as if nothing was going on back on earth.
ELIJAH’S STORY IS OUR STORY
Sometimes we face things that discourage us, threaten us and we feel like giving up. Sometimes it is not some little inconvenience but like Elijah he wanted his life to end (19:4). We are told in the text that Elijah slept and when he awoke an angel from the Lord was present and prepared a meal for him and “made” him eat. God provides for Elijah but then God comes to him and meets Elijah where he is at … but God does not leave him there. God asks Elijah “what are you doing here?” Elijah tells his story and how pointless it seems to him. He states it best, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (19:14) … and God listens. But God reveals Himself and gives him a different perspective – God gives him purpose and a mission (v. 15-17) and points out that he is not alone – the Lord still has 7000 in Israel that have not bowed the knee to Baal (v. 18).
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
No matter how bleak life can seem sometimes it is we learn four basic things from Elijah: 1) sometimes (many times) we can’t trust our own feelings and perspective on the situation we are facing; 2) God is more concerned about what is going on that we are; 3) God is still working and will use us even if things do not work out the way we think they should; 4) sometimes are greatest need is to get away, get some sleep, get healthy and then get a fresh sense of God’s perspective on life – it will be helpful if we are willing to accept it.
Having a rough week? When God asks you “what are you doing here” how will you answer?