Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 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.’ Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ 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 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.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
1 Kings 19:3-8 (NIV)
Elijah had just come from a great victory over the prophets of Baal. He had run in God’s strength ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. Yet despite this he fled the city as soon as Jezebel threatened him. Even with the demonstration of God’s power that had happened shortly before, Elijah lost his confidence and fled.
Worse was to come. In the wilderness he sat down under a bush and said ‘I have had enough, Lord. Take my life’.
Although Elijah finds himself in a state of fear and despair, God does not condemn him or tell him that he shouldn’t feel as he does.
God deals with Elijah gently by sending an angel to minister to him and to provide him with food and water to revive him. Interestingly, the angel tells Elijah twice to ‘Get up and eat’. The second time we are told that it is because he needs strengthening for the journey ahead.
Can you empathise with Elijah? Have you ever been at a high point when something goes wrong and you find yourself in despair?
God understands about the highs and lows of life. He knows that the journey can sometimes be too much for us. He is willing to give us the strength for the journey. However, we must be willing to ‘get up and eat’, so that we have the strength for what God wants us to do. We are not talking here about physical food, but spiritual food to be found in prayer and God’s Word.
We will return to Elijah in the next post as we discover how God deals with him when he arrives at Horeb (the mountain of God).