3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 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.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
1 Kings 19:1-5
When I read about Elijah, I put him right up there with Paul–a great man of God who followed, obeyed, and carried out God’s will without fail. From that perspective, it can be difficult to live up to his example. First Kings 19 gives us another view of Elijah, one that makes him more like you and me.
In the third year of Elijah’s prophesied famine, the prophet had just prayed down fire from heaven that consumed a water-laden altar. At his command, those who were amazed at the work of God that day slaughtered the prophets of Baal. So Queen Jezebel wanted Elijah dead. You’d think the famine and fire would have been enough to bolster his confidence enough to walk right into Ahab’s throne room and confront Israel’s most evil queen.
But Elijah was more like you and me than we may have ever thought. After three years of hearing complaints about no rain like it was his fault, a full day of one on four hundred prayer competition with the prophets of Baal, and giving the order to slaughter humans, the prophet was done. Hearing his name was on a wanted poster was too much. He ran for his life and prayed he might die.
Have you ever felt like Elijah–given so much for God or your family that you just can’t do it anymore? Then there’s that one last request, and you’re ready. You’ve read the last couple of chapters of Revelation, and it sounds pretty good right this moment. I can commiserate with this servant of God.
Even after God fed him and let him rest, the prophet was still tired. Standing on the Mountain of God, Elijah told the Almighty, “I’ve done everything you’ve asked, where are the blessings?” And God came to him in a whisper. In that moment, Elijah didn’t need the God who can move mountains or create fires, he needed the God who breathes peace, and his Heavenly Father knew it.
As chapter nineteen ends, we see the aging prophet pass his mantle to Elisha. I find his actions refreshing. God’s servant doesn’t say a word; Elijah simply throws his cloak around the young man and walks on. He’s tired. He’s served God with fervor and love, but he’s done. When Elisha says, “I’ll be right with you, I just have to wrap up a few things here,” Elijah doesn’t care. “Come with me if you want to, if not, don’t.”
I’ve had those kind of days and weeks. “If you want to listen to the message God has for me to share with you, great. If not, you’re loss.” I want to be compassionate and caring, but there’s nothing left.
I love 1 Kings 19 because it helps me see that God understands our humanness. He created me just the way I am. He knows my needs and doesn’t want me to feel guilty that I can’t perform with superhuman abilities. I can still serve, love, and bring His word to those around me just like Elijah, but I don’t have to beat myself up when I’m having a bad day. When we understand Elijah felt a lot like us, it’s easier to try to mimic the rest of his life.
God loves us. He knows us. He created our limitations and smiles when we work past the ones humans have put on us. Like Elijah the limitations simply provide a place for God to get the glory. Keep on keeping on and know that God understands on those days we feel a little more human than others.
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Check out one of my favorite Bible Studies
featuring Elijah’s protege, Elisha
Dive in to a life of Freedom
shares the story of Naaman and how he found healing.
It can help us discover how we can
be healed of our internal struggles too!