Have you ever found yourself suddenly and unexpectedly in a “wilderness” period in your life, just when it seemed as though everything was going so well? Maybe you’re there at the moment? In those times, if we aren’t careful, we can start to lose perspective. We can start to feel that we’ve been in this wilderness a really long time, and that no one cares, nothing ever goes right, and maybe even God himself has forgotten us. The saying ‘It doesn’t rain but it pours’ seems to become our reality. We feel overwhelmed and under-equipped and fear starts to call through the crack of our previously resolutely closed door ‘what if things are never going to get better?’
Did you know that Elijah, mighty prophet of the Old Testament went through a time when he felt a like this?
He actually ran off into the wilderness in fear and was so down that he begged God to just let him die!
1 Kings 19:4
”He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
The Real Elijah – Faith Filled, Trusting God, Obedient
The amazing thing about this story is that if we just back up a little bit to the events prior to Elijah’s ‘meltdown’, in 1 Kings 18 we see a very different Elijah;
Here, he’s full of faith and fearless! First he obeys God by going to King Ahab with the message God had for him, despite the fact that Ahab had a ‘death warrant’ out for Elijah. Hmmm, was he crazy?! No. Just a man who trusted God. He demonstrates this by the way he confidently speaks to the king : 1 Kings 18:17-18 “When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?” “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.”
Then, Elijah goes on to demonstrate God’s Almighty supernatural power before Ahab and the prophets of Baal by bringing down fire on a soaking wet altar and then, enabled by God, running for miles, faster than Ahab’s chariot.
The Defeatist Elijah – “Poor Me”
So what happened to Elijah?
He let fear in. He listened to the voice of fear. He obeyed fear instead of faith.
Elijah hadn’t been afraid when Ahab, the King had threatened his life, he hadn’t been cowed by the 450 prophets of Baal, and yet here we find him running in fear after receiving a death threat from Jezebel. (“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.” 1 Kings 18:17-18)
And so we find Elijah exhausted and at the end of his tether in the wilderness.
Can you identify with Elijah’s story?
It may seem sudden, but it never really is. We are in a spiritual battle; those thoughts of “I can’t”, “I’m too tired”, “Does God care?” are in fact a stealth operation of the enemy to attempt to whittle away at your peace and rob you of your confidence in God. When you’re tired and spiritually depleted – running on empty, you’re in danger of listening to that voice of fear.
God’s Response to Elijah’s Cry
Elijah cried out to God as he sat there in his personal wilderness. Then exhausted from all his anguish and self pity, he fell asleep.
I love God’s response to Elijah’s cry, because it demonstrates the heart of our loving, gracious Father: God sent an angel to bring freshly baked bread and water to the sleeping Elijah. Then He allowed Elijah to sleep some more, to be fully rested; prepared and strengthened for what lay ahead.
1 Kings 19:5-6 “Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.”
God does the same for us, today.
God may not change your actual circumstances right now. You may still be in that wilderness for a little while longer, but He will give you the refreshing food and water you need to strengthen you for it.
Our fresh bread and water is the Word of God. We need to feed ourselves from it, daily. A little ‘snack’ now and then isn’t enough. God’s Word is the source of our life. It’s where we find sustenance and strength to rise above our circumstances and face anything.
1 Kings 19:7-8 “Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.”
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:13 This is the question the Lord asked Elijah.
God could spoken in thunder, lightening and fire, so mighty and powerful is His voice. But He chose a “still, small voice”. It’s not a voice of angry rebuke, it’s the kind, loving voice of the Father.
“What’s going on with you Elijah?”
And then, when Elijah finally stops complaining and starts to listen again, God goes on, in that still small voice, to give him instruction, and, ultimately peace.
Isn’t that the way with us sometimes? Sometimes I engage my mouth more readily than I engage my [spiritual] ears. I can’t hear God over the noise of my own voice and God can’t get a word in edgeways.
Are you like that too? Does God need to say to you today, “what are you doing here?”
If you feel at the end of your tether today, as though you’ve had enough, don’t give up!
Open the Word of God and ask God to feed you. Ask Him to renew your hope and give you direction.
He hears you and will answer you, just as He did Elijah.
PS: Below are items from my shop Miss Maisie’s Wee Shop, where I sell my handmade products. To view more details click the text under the photo and you will be taken through to the shop link.