Elijah – one of the most respected and powerful prophets – was passively suicidal.
The once united Israel was split into two kingdoms. Ahab was king of the northern kingdom of Israel, with his infamous wife Jezebel implementing idol worship and violently purging Israel of all of the prophets of Yahweh. God was forsaken. Famine had taken the land for three years. There, in the eye of the storm, was Elijah.
In one of the more famous stories, Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a contest to see which God was real. Elijah and these false prophets both built their altar and prayed to their gods, but only the God of Israel answered with fire. In the end, Elijah kills the false prophets, leaving Queen Jezebel furious and determined to have Elijah eliminated.
Despite having witnessed such an awesome victory, in fear, Elijah flees into the wilderness. In this low moment, he pleads to God:
“‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.’” – 1 Kings 19:4
Was it Elijah’s broken expectations? What drove him to feel so insignificant? Gripped with fear and seeing no purpose to continue, he asks for death. While we can only speculate the possible reasons behind Elijah’s thoughts, it is important to focus on God’s response.
God provided for Elijah. He nurtured him back to health, caring for all his physical needs. Additionally, He showed patience and empathy, calling to Elijah and allowing the man to vent his toxic feelings.
Despite Elijah’s fear and feeling of defeat, God doesn’t respond in anger through wind or earthquake or fire. Instead, God gently whispers to Elijah, reminding him of his purpose and original calling. Through it all, God constantly reminds Elijah that He is with him, even in the midst of Elijah’s fear and depressive state.
In the same way, there are many times in life when we are gripped with fear and anxiety or stuck in bouts of hopelessness and despair. It is in these moments that we must remember, no matter what we experience in life, our God never changes. Jesus died on the cross so that we may approach God boldly, even in our darkest of times. His work gives us the hope that we need when we are struggling, as Elijah did before us. The God of Elijah is our God, and He will never fail.