“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19: 4 NIV
Leading to this moment, leader after leader commits sin after sin, provoking anger in the eyes of the Lord. One seems worse than the one before him. Ahab comes along, also committing sin and considering it trivial. Ahab sets an altar to worship Baal, though perhaps he intended to worship God and Baal at the same time. Elijah tells Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” And then he takes off, going where the Lord tells him to go, and being sustained by the Lord through special provisions.
Prophets are being slain in a search for Elijah. Elijah returns to Ahab for a type of showdown on Mount Carmel where two offerings are presented: one for Baal and one for God. Elijah tells Baal’s prophets to call on the name of their god, and he’ll call on the name of his. The god who answers by fire–he will be the true God. And so it was.
Even through a water soaked altar, God shows his great power by fire. Baal’s prophets are taken away and slaughtered. Still, this doesn’t sit well with his followers, and Jezebel swears an oath to find Elijah and kill him. Elijah takes off, fearing for his life. In the desert, he goes off alone to pray that he would die.
My study notes read: Elijah concluded that his work was fruitless and consequently that life was not worth living. He had lost his confidence in the triumph of the kingdom of God and was withdrawing from the arena of conflict.
Elijah was part of God’s work and witness to miracles: not just being able to hear God so clearly, he was present for a child’s resurrection, he was part of an area drought and famine, and he saw God come through with power and might by fire at the altar. That’s some pretty big stuff. And still he lost confidence in the kingdom of God.
God is so good and doesn’t give up on Elijah, even in Elijah’s great doubt of his own work and fruit. God sends a powerful wind, an earthquake and a fire, but the Lord was not in them. No, it was after the fire that came a gentle whisper. And God said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
How often am I discouraged when things don’t go the way I expect them and seem … fruitless? How many times have I been ready to throw in the towel of the job at hand and say, “God, this isn’t working. I’m not getting anywhere.” Discouraged, I might miss the bigger things God is doing because I’m so focused on what I perceive the results should be. I fail to notice all the miracles around me, the answers to prayer. It’s only in the midst of my own spiritual trial, the fearful places of mighty winds, earthquakes or fires, that God reaches out to me in my place of worry or doubt with his gentle whisper and says, “Courtney, what are you doing here?”
Father, I trust in you. Thank you for your reminders, your whisperings to me, that you are in control even when things don’t turn out the way I expect. Please forgive my fearful heart, Lord. When I run, I pray that it is always to you. Amen