The Victorious and Discouraged Prophet Elijah
I Kings 18 – 19 we have a story about the prophet Elijah that depicts how God interacted with his prophet when he was so discouraged he wanted to die.
We can learn from this story because like Elijah we sometimes feel alone and discouraged, even after a victorious battle. The Lord has given us a model of how He cares for us and what can bring recovery.
Elijah had proclaimed God’s message of a drought to King Ahab. And sure enough, there had been 3 years of drought in the land. But, God was preparing to show Himself in the circumstances of a drought through this man, Elijah. You see, the real problem was worse than the drought problem. The real problem was idolatry. And this is true in our lives as well.
So Elijah challenged King Ahab to call together all Israel and Baal’s prophets to Mount Carmel and ask them, “who will you choose to serve, the Lord or Baal?”
That was THE REAL PROBLEM. He then told Baal’s prophets to prepare a sacrifice to their gods and pray to Baal to light a fire under the sacrifice. They accepted the challenge and all day long they cried out to their false gods and nothing happened.
Then it was Elijah’s turn. He prepared the sacrifice and he even poured water on and around his sacrifice and called on the Lord God of Israel to light the fire. He wanted to demonstrate God’s power and hopefully turn the people’s hearts back to the Lord.
And that is what God did. It was an astounding victory, and Elijah then slayed all the false prophets and prayed for rain. God answered again and sent rain on the parched earth. It was a glorious day. A day of seeing God at work defeating the enemy and bringing the much needed rain.
However, Ahab’s wife, the wicked influential queen Jezebel, heard how Elijah had killed her prophets and she threatened to kill him the same way within 24 hours.
Victorious Elijah now became the victim. Terrified, he ran for his life. This is the same man who had seen God’s miracle of fire from heaven and slain 450 Baal worshipers. He wanted to die. He went from being a warrior on the mountaintop to despondency in the wilderness in a single day.
And what did he need in order to recover?
A lecture? Reminders of what God had done?
No, he needed encouragement. Let’s look at what the Lord gave him…. remembering you could be in Elijah’s sandals someday. What would you need and what would others around you need?
I Kings 19: 4; But he (Elijah) 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, Oh Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a juniper tree, and behold there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat”.
The Lord gave him a quiet place, rest, touched him, fed him angel food, and gave him water. The angel came again, touched him, fed him, and spoke words of encouragement.
What do you need today? Ask God and open your eyes to how He will encourage you.