1 Kings 19 (NIV)
Elijah Flees to Horeb
1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
Well, she certainly missed the whole point!
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.”
Actually, Elijah will never die!
5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”
from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers
THE INITIATIVE AGAINST DEPRESSION
The angel did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable; he told Elijah to do the most ordinary thing, viz., to get up and eat. If we were never depressed we should not be alive; it is the nature of a crystal never to be depressed. A human being is capable of depression, otherwise there would be no capacity for exaltation. There are things that are calculated to depress, things that are of the nature of death; and in taking an estimate of yourself, always take into account the capacity for depression.
When the Spirit of God comes He does not give us visions, He tells us to do the most ordinary things conceivable. Depression is apt to turn us away from the ordinary commonplace things of God’s creation, but whenever God comes, the inspiration is to do the most natural simple thing — the things we would never have imagined God was in, and as we do them we find He is there. The inspiration which comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression; we have to do the next thing and do it in the inspiration of God. If we do a thing in order to overcome depression, we deepen the depression; but if the Spirit of God makes us feel intuitively that we must do the thing, and we do it, the depression is gone. Immediately we arise and obey, we enter on a higher plane of life.
6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
“The spirit needs to be fed, and the body needs feeding also. Do not forget these matters; it may seem to some people that I ought not to mention such small things as food and rest, but these may be the very first elements in really helping a poor depressed servant of God.”
—C. H. Spurgeon
7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God (also known as Mount Sinai). 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The LORD Appears to Elijah
And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
Kingdom work can be challenging! You can give everything you have to God’s service and come away exhausted. This is what happened to Elijah. God had just used Elijah to call down fire from heaven in a spectacular display of divine power. But Elijah’s exhilaration was soon replaced by strenuous work followed by death threats, causing him to flee for his life. Now he was alone, exhausted, and discouraged.
Again, God came to Elijah. This time, He came not in fire or in a loud, spectacular way, but in a still, small voice. God’s servant was tired, and God brought him comfort. Elijah’s focus had shifted from God to God’s enemies. He had allowed his circumstances to overwhelm him, leaving him disoriented to God and feeling alone. So God encouraged him. God provided Elisha for him as a helper, friend, and companion.
God removed Elijah from the activity for a while, so that he could rest and spend time with God. When the nation next saw Elijah, he was rejuvenated and refocused on God and His assignment.
If you are overwhelmed by kingdom work so that your focus is no longer on God but on all that there is to do, let Him comfort you. Listen to His gentle voice. He will encourage you and provide exactly what you need to prepare you for what comes next. If He needs to remove you from your work for a time, He will. He may place a friend or co-laborer beside you to help carry the load. God knows exactly how to encourage you. Let Him do so.
HERE is “Be Still, My Soul” sung by the BYU Vocal Point.
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
God blesses Elijah by giving him more work to do (if only to stop the pity party).
The Call of Elisha
19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Elisha throws himself a grand good-bye party and cheerfully sets out with Elijah.