This morning I read 1 Kings 19:1-18, and was blown away by it. Great victory comes crashing down for Elijah, and he runs. They want to kill him, but what else is new? Didn’t they want to kill him before? Didn’t they have the power to kill him before? What’s different is his fear. This is a man who stood before the prophets of baal and laughed at them publicly. Suddenly he is afraid. He is crashing from the high of spiritual victory, he is exhausted, and all he can see is an angry queen seeking his life. He can’t see God in that moment.
So what does Elijah do? He runs. But get this, He doesn’t run from God, He runs to God. He runs to the Mountain of God. He is so depressed he wants to die, yet he runs to God. Along the way God listens to him, God feeds him, God gives him the strength to continue running in the right direction. Through his dark night of the soul, in the midst of a depression so deep he wants to die, Elijah runs to God.
He ends up in a cave on the Mountain of God, and God asks him, “Why are you here?” Elijah tells God his problems. God doesn’t berate him for being depressed, God doesn’t fuss at him at all. God’s answer was “Stand before me. Look at me. Listen to me.” Did you catch that? God’s answer was to move Elijah’s focus back onto God Himself.
So Elijah waits as God’s power blows by in a hurricane force wind. The earth shakes in an earthquake as God approaches. A consuming fire sweeps across the landscape in front of the cave. It feels like God is saying, “Elijah, remember who I am. I am the All Powerful Creator. I am in control of everything.” And then, best of all, God speaks in a low whisper. An intimate loving whisper to His child. “Elijah, why are you here?” Tell me your troubles. And God listens. God is there, present with Elijah, loving Elijah, and He still doesn’t berate him for his depression. He just listens as Elijah pours out his fear.
And then, God gives Elijah the next job. Go do the next thing Elijah; you have three men to anoint, two rulers of nations, and your own successor. Elijah, you have a job, something important to do. Then God tells him what will happen to his enemies. Elijah, I am not abandoning you in your fight. And lastly, God tells him there are thousands of Believers still. Elijah, hear me, you are not alone.
Elijah obeys. He does the next thing. His circumstances had not changed in the least, the queen of the land still sought his life. But Elijah gets up and does the next thing. His gaze is now on God.
To me there are several things that stand out in this story.
In Elijah’s great distress He ran toward God, not away. He was physically exhausted, his life was in danger, he was so depressed he wanted to die. Yet he ran to God.
God’s reaction to Elijah was not, “you shouldn’t feel that way!” He didn’t even point out how much worse off someone else was. It was simply, “Elijah, look at ME.” And then, “Elijah, go do…” and finally, at the end, reassurance that God’s plan would take care of Elijah’s enemies.
Elijah immediately got up to obey. Obedience was important. Elijah trusted God and so He obeyed.
In your dark night of the soul, be like Elijah. Not the strong victorious Elijah, but the terrified exhausted Elijah who wanted to die.
Run to God. Hear Him; you have His Word to read. Look at Him. Trust Him. Obey Him. Because like Elijah, you have an important job to do. God will not abandon you in your struggle. You are not alone.
©Rebecca Huffman Givens, 09/13/15