1 Kings 19
This chapter is a great one for recognising discouragement, how it shapes us and how we can come against it.
After Elijah’s victory on Mount Carmel against the false prophets of Baal, Elijah received a messenger from Queen Jezebel threatening his life. Up to now Elijah had been obedient to God’s word and direction but this time he just flees south to put distance between himself and her executioners. This is why God asks him in v 9 “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Several things indicate discouragement causing Elijah to reach that point.
- Illogical thinking. He fled because his life was threatened but asked in v 4 that he might die. Alone in a wilderness is not a great place to be, unless led by God (Remember Jesus after his baptism) Elijah never asked God but just fled.
- Tiredness and hunger are not great for straight thinking. They influence you physically and mentally and can lead to a downward spiral. I have certainly learned to recognise the symptoms when tired and hungry and deal with them!
- Our egos and pride can become such a stumbling block when things are perceived to be going wrong. In v 14 Elijah states “I have been very jealous for the Lord…..and I, even I only are left”. Elijah had completely forgotten about all the other prophets such as the 100 saved by Obadiah and needed to be reminded that he was not the sole answer to the redemption of Israel.
God’s response to Elijah:
- Instead of Jezebels messenger he sends his own to him. The angel brings food and water after Elijah had slept. God agrees with Elijah “Arise and eat for the journey is too great for you”. Food is God’s response when Elijah cries I have had enough and when he needs enough. Focusing and feasting on God brings us back into encouragement. The Holy Spirit enables us in our need of “enough”.
- God enabled Elijah to go on another 40 days and nights to Horeb – or better known as Mount Sinai where Moses received the 10 commandments from God. The emphasis on Mount Carmel had been the spectacular raining down of fire from heaven consuming Elijah’s water soaked sacrifice. Here on Horeb the emphasis is on God revealing himself in quietness.
Discouragement can often bring such a barrage of noise and distraction into our lives that we struggle to hear that “low whisper” v 12 of God speaking to us. Elijah took himself to a cave, away from all distractions. We often speak about our quiet times but often find it so difficult to carry out in a busy life. It is so important and one of the ways of keeping discouragement at bay in life, it feeds us as we read God’s Word and communicate in prayer. When we feast on God it is not long before he takes us to another Mount – that of Calvary where Jesus was crucified and died for us. Here the Lord asks us the same question as Elijah “What are you doing here …………? (Fill in your name) Jesus sacrifice is the sole redemption of humanity, and he won the victory when rising from the dead 3 days later. Focus on that truth and when discouragement raises its head then know how to overcome it – remember discouragement isn’t the unforgiveable sin, it can be defeated. Other people can help, none of us are called to be lone rangers even Elijah was called to go and anoint Elisha as a help and eventual replacement.