Did one of God’s greatest prophets lose hold on the preciousness of life? Could that happen to any of us? Yes, and yes. Elijah “lost it,” and so might we if we are not careful.
I 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 away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
Here, under a juniper tree in the desert we find the prophet Elijah ready to give up his life. He prays to die just a day or so after he had seen God answer his prayers for fire (on the altar at Mt Carmel) and rain (after more than three years of drought). Consider these factors that brought Elijah to this place of despair so
soon after his great victories:
The world in which he lived denied the true God and treated life as cheap. Jezebel and her prophets of Baal had killed many of God’s prophets, had led the people astray, and now she was threatening to kill Elijah.
Secondly, Elijah was physically drained. He had done a lot of running under a lot of stress with no food or rest. Physical weakness can open us to spiritual weakness, and sometimes a healthy meal and a good night’s rest is God’s plan to keep us serving faithfully, effectively, and joyfully.
Third, and perhaps worst of all, Elijah felt as though he was a failure. That may surprise us after the confrontation with the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18) and the return of the rain, but he said, “I am not better than my fathers,” he thought that he was not making a difference. It was true that he worked among a very hardhearted people with wicked leadership.
God’s cure for a despair so desperate that Elijah was ready to discard his life–food, rest, and another long walk, this time with God. Over a number of days the Lord gave Elijah a Heavenly perspective and an earthly purpose (read the rest of I Kings 19). It all came in quiet time alone with God, listening to His still small voice.
Let me encourage you to measure your success in your walk with the Lord and by His standards rather than looking for reinforcement from the world. If we are obeying Him, we are doing something great and worthwhile, and life, so precious and brief, is well worth the living!
Devotional submitted by:
Pastor Scott Jones
Southport Baptist Church