1 Kings 19:4
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”
I want to slow down a little in the beginning of 1 Kings 19. As I’ve spent time in God’s Word reading this story, I’ve spent a lot of time weeping.
Reread verse 4. Take a second and sit in Elijah’s shoes. Or maybe this is a place you frequently sit already. You work hard to do the right thing. You work hard to further God’s kingdom through your faithfulness to your family, your job, your relationships. And after all your striving, you’re feeling dumped on with raging lunatics at your heels. Like Elijah, you have had enough.
All Elijah knew to do sitting in his exhaustion and discouragement was to beg God to let him die. He didn’t have anyone patting him on the back for his good work. No one was giving an annual review telling him where he was improving. He was receiving death threats and discouragement at every turn. In fact, he’s doubting his own faithfulness to God. Look at the end of the verse: “for I am not better than my fathers.” He sees himself not only worth death, but unworthy of God’s affection.
Up to now, we see Elijah as a lone ranger. He acts alone with the help of his Savior. He has no counterpart helping him manage life or his work. His servant left him in Beersheba and he’s all alone. This is a fabulous reminder to me of 2 things.
We cannot live our lives in isolation. We NEED others to speak into our lives, offer perspective, and to love us well. If we are going to have the greatest amount of impact, we need help accomplishing God’s work.
We need to depend on God more deeply than we depend on the people God puts in our lives. As badly as we need to realize we can’t live life alone, we also need to realize that God is ultimately where we find our hope and fulfillment.
As we continue to slowly make our way through chapter 19, we are going to see some miraculous responses to Elijah’s prayer. God listens, He visits Elijah, and makes promises to him. Elijah allows God to nurture his desperate and broken heart.
I’m often awfully quick to try to find a silver lining when I’m relating to others in their pain. But the last thing I want from others when I’m hurting is for them to diminish my pain by finding the light in it. No, I have to discover the light for myself for it to hold meaning and significance.
In Elijah’s discouragement, he took his broken heart to God. It may seem like an overreaction on Elijah’s part at first glance, but what I see, is someone a lot like me. I face discouragement and I can either wallow in self-pity, or I can fall honestly and vulnerably before my Savior and admit my brokenness and need. Take a look with me at Psalm 51:17.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
God desires exactly Elijah’s kind of heart, to use and bring glory to Himself. Elijah’s broken and contrite heart is what God wishes to point others to Himself.
Where do you have the tendency to most often fall into discouragement?
Where do you find encouragement when you’re in the darkest places?
What do you ask of God when you’re there?