I’ve been studying 1 and 2 Kings and, most recently, a lesson from the life of the prophet Elijah has deeply resonated. In 1 Kings 17, God sets Elijah apart and prepares him privately for his upcoming public ministry. I’ve seen this pattern my own life, as so often God works in my heart in the quiet, hidden moments. When I step away from the hustle of this world and quiet my heart and my racing mind, when I open His word and speak His truth, I feel His power and His refreshing and restoring spirit. When I take the time to slow down and be still, I discover His peace in such sweet ways.
In Elijah’s case, God sends him away to hide by the shores of a quiet stream. There, God feeds Elijah each day by sending a raven with food. Did you catch that?? A BIRD brings Elijah food. A bird. Elijah is completely reliant on God and God provides faithfully. He also goes on to multiply a widow’s food and raise her son from the dead (yeah, pretty amazing stuff). God teaches Elijah to trust even when the situation makes zero rational sense.
Next, Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal through the supernatural and mighty power of the Lord at Mount Carmel. (1 Kings 18). God proves that if He commands us to do something, He will provide a way for us to do it.
At the start of 1 Kings 19, just after all of these powerful “mountaintop experiences,” rather abruptly and unexpectedly, we find Elijah afraid and running for his life. In the desert, under the shade of a solitary broom tree, Elijah, in his desperation, cries out, “I’ve had enough Lord.”
Even when Elijah appears to have turned away from God’s call on his life, God never turns away or gives up on Elijah. (And friends, we can rest in the good news that this remains true for each of us, as well). Instead, God tenderly cares for Elijah’s physical needs, preparing Him for the journey ahead. He feeds Elijah two small meals of bread and water and those meals are stretched to sustain Elijah for the next forty days.
After Elijah is nourished, we hear God speak. Twice, He asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He calls Elijah by name. How sweet and personal of our Father.
Then, instead of taking away the immediate threat from which Elijah originally ran, He says “Go back the way you came…”.
He sent him back.
God doesn’t remove the hard thing, yet He sustains Elijah through the journey.
Haven’t we all been there? We witness miracles and experience the abundance of God’s mercy, yet, the enemy’s lies and accusations (and our own unmet expectations) drive us straight into the murky pit of despair. Then, when we turn our eyes back to our Mighty God, we are sustained for the work ahead of us.
Personally, I am ridiculously grateful for the fact that these stories are recorded to give us examples of the heroes of our faith wavering and afraid. It makes me feel less crazy when I find myself in a similar situation. It also reminds me how trustworthy and merciful our God is and how He restores us – no matter the situation. He gently whispers, stay with me, work with me. I am right here. I won’t leave. I am merciful. You can go back and do this with a fresh heart. You can trust me.
Friends, whatever you’re facing today, I pray these stories from the life of Elijah will encourage you to be still and allow the Lord to renew and refresh your heart. May He sustain you and equip you for the good work He has prepared just for you.