“I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”
1 Kings 19:10, MSG*
Elijah’s conversation with God comes after my favourite of his exploits, when he taunted the prophets of Baal in a public showdown. (You can read that story in 1 Kings 18.)
That event may be the pinnacle of Elijah’s career. And God showed up in power. Yet here the prophet is, not long after, running scared from evil Queen Jezebel.
Surely the God of fire and miracles could handle a vicious queen and her henchmen, but Elijah isn’t thinking about God.
Look at what he says—and he says it twice in the chapter—he’s thinking about himself.
The mighty prophet of God is having a self-pity party.
I’m not pointing any fingers. I’ve been there, and for far less reason. You probably have too.
Commentators say Elijah was depressed, that it was a personality thing. Maybe so. But this time I read the story I saw something else.
I think Elijah started wearing too much of the responsibility. He lived a high-profile, dangerous life, speaking God’s words of judgement to a king who didn’t want to hear them. What he said, and what he did, revealed God.
It was God’s power that burned the drenched sacrifice on the rebuilt stone altar, but did Elijah get too involved in shouting at the priests of Baal? Did he start taking the fight too personally?
Don’t we do that sometimes? God’s doing His part, but all of a sudden we’re carrying loads He never asked us to carry?
In his hurt, though, Elijah shows us what to do. He goes to God. He gets alone with God, and even though he spills out his whole “poor me” rant, Elijah hears God. God meets him there. And Elijah doesn’t leave that place until God sends him out.
Mighty and holy God, You are well able to work through Your people when we obey You, but sometimes we start looking at the work more than at the One who sends us. Moses and Elijah had these moments, and we do too. In Your patient mercy, please help us see when we go off-track, and please draw us back to Yourself to sit in quiet and renew our spirits. Teach us to trust You in all things instead of trying to forge ahead in our own power. Teach us to rest in You.
Instead of a song this week, I have two other links for you:
At Choose NOW Ministries, Amber Frank talks about Finding time for the One who matters most.
And at Christian Work at Home Ministries, Jill Hart shares a video devotional about Missing the Point.