Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”
- 1 Kings 19:3-5
“The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive— only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression.
“When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things— things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Have you ever thought that you were insignificant? Have you never thought you were insignificant, but others don’t know that you are even there?
But let’s look at Elijah for a minute. There is a famine. He helps a poor widow. He then has an encounter with Jezebel’s priests of Baal. He is successful, having the people capture and kill the evil priests. He then welcomes the rain, to end the drought and famine. Victory upon victory has been granted to Elijah. But Elijah knows that Jezebel has placed a price on his head. Could this gifted man of God not see that God will give him more victories?
Instead, Elijah feels all alone and depressed. He wants God to take his life right there. God could command him to get up, walk to the palace of Ahab and Jezebel and have it out with them, once and for all. No, God, through an angel, says to rise up and eat.
Beyond the quoted Scriptures, Elijah slumps back after eating, and God tells him to rise and eat again. This time, God provides a destination, Mount Horeb. He goes to a cave on Mount Horeb, still feeling depressed. He sits in the cave and sulks. God asks what he is doing. God tells him to leave the cave, for the Lord will pass by. This is when Elijah experiences a strong wind, an earthquake, and finally a whisper. Elijah has work to do. He must anoint Jehu as the next king of Israel, Hazael as the next king of Aram, and Elisha as the next prophet to follow him. This is when God tells Elijah that He has reserved 7,000 who have not bowed a knee to Baal. Elijah is not alone.
We might not be the great victor in one of the most bizarre tales of the Old Testament, but we may have known that feeling of defeat. We may have all had that moment when each victory is met by the next challenge. Why is our reward for doing the impossible, or so it seemed at the time, a challenge to do something even more unlikely to succeed?
We look at Elijah as one of the greatest men of God of all time, but he was more like us than we could ever imagine. When Elijah faced one thrill ride after another, he finally wanted to get off the roller coaster. He may not have been far from his moment with a chariot of fire, but Elijah had serious work to do, yet he was drained spiritually. God had to reignite the fire.
God did not start with orders to do the great things that remained. God simply said for him to get up and eat.
Are you asking God for that ministry that will lead to world acclaim? It may not be likely, but even if that is your destiny, God may know that to reach that ministry, you first must take baby steps. Before you evangelize to thousands, God may ask you to talk to one. And if you are having a tough time getting out of bed, God may simply ask you, as he did Elijah, to get up and eat. God knows what His plan for you will be, and He knows that you need your strength to accomplish it.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.