Elijah is in Judah, hiding from Jezebel who wants to kill him. He’s sitting under a tree praying for the Lord to call him home.
1 Kings 19:4c “’Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’”
Elijah didn’t really want to die. If he did, he wouldn’t be sitting in the shade of that Juniper tree. He’d be laying out in that hot desert sun waiting for the heat to do him in. If he had really been serious about wanting to die, he would have stayed back in Samaria and Jezebel would have gladly answered his prayer.
“He ran for his life” remember. Dying is easy. Living is hard. It takes a lot more effort and a lot more courage to live than it does to die. Elijah’s not suicidal, but he is depressed. Even prophets, even pastors, even the strongest and most faithful believers get depressed.
When we’re around someone who’s depressed, try not to be offended by the things they say. Don’t take it personally. When we’re depressed, we don’t make a lot of sense. We are absolutely convinced that our thoughts and feelings are correct. We’re not listening to reason and we don’t really know what we’re saying.
Elijah is frustrated and discouraged because, after going three and a half years without rain, after the fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice and the altar, after a soaking, drenching rain, absolutely nothing has changed. In fact, things may have even have gotten worse.
Israel still hasn’t turned back to God and Jezebel and Ahab are more defiant than ever. “The past three and a half years I spent praying were wasted. Nothing I do, nothing I say, nothing the Lord does makes any difference to these people. So why even bother? That’s it, Lord. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve had enough. I quit.” Elijah is not the kind of person you think would ever have this problem. He’s always seemed so strong and confident in the Lord. No one knows he’s out in the desert alone, sitting under a tree wishing he were dead.
1 Kings 19:5a “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.”
Elijah is alone. He’s discouraged. He’s depressed. But, most of all, Elijah was just plain tired. He was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. This may have been the first decent night’s sleep he’s had in over three years. That’s the main reason he wasn’t thinking straight or talking right and the reason you couldn’t take anything he said personally. He was just plain tired.
1 Kings 19:5b “All at once and angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’”
Elijah is sound asleep and suddenly, “all at once” an angel touches him, probably shook him a little, and says, “Get up and eat.” It must have startled him. He’s alone in another country in the middle of the desert. He’s groggy. He’s confused. He’s probably thinking his prayer’s been answered. The Lord must have taken my life and I’m waking up in heaven. Who has the heart to tell him he’s still back on earth?
1 Kings 19:6 “He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”
Have you ever been depressed? Probably not in public anyway, right? We’re always smiling and looking like we have everything under control when we’re with other people. We don’t want them to know how we really feel inside. We tell ourselves that we don’t want them to worry but, the truth is, we’re just too proud to admit we’re weak and sometimes we need help.
He’ll always send someone into our lives to help us in His name. No matter where we try to make our bed, He’ll always be there. Someone will always be there for us even when we’re trying to be alone. He will never abandon us or give up on us. He’ll make sure that someone, somewhere, is always praying for us and reaching out to us with love in His name. Somehow, the Lord will find a way to provide exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. The Lord knows when to butt in and He knows exactly when to back off.
Let’s give Elijah some time to drink his second cup of coffee so he can figure out where he is and what’s going on. Lord willing, we’ll start from here next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s word with Pastor Buj.