1 Kings 19:1-18
This story is one of the most relatable moments in Elijah’s narrative. He was coming off the back of his great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and he crashed to an emotional low point.
The immediate context is that Elijah was threatened by Jezebel once she heard about how God had worked through him, and this triggered despair in Elijah, who asked that he might die. Whilst he was in this state, God met with Elijah by sending an angel, and this shows God’s care and concern for us in our lowest moments.
The solutions that the angel offered to Elijah are very practical – food and sleep. It is easy to try to make everything a spiritual issue but we can be more affected by physical factors than we sometimes realise, and creating healthy patterns of life for our body also has positive benefits for our minds and souls.
Once Elijah was fed and rested, God got to the heart of the matter with him. Elijah was frustrated that he seemed to be alone in standing up for God, and God spoke to him about it. God took Elijah up onto a mountain, where wind and earthquake and fire passed by, but none of these were God speaking. Rather, God spoke to him quietly in a whisper, and he often speaks to us in a similar way. Learning to hear the whispers of God is important part of living as a disciple.
The fact that God spoke in such a way was in itself an answer to Elijah’s concern. God’s work isn’t always through the biggest and most vocal, but he often works through the quiet and the small. As well as speaking to reassure Elijah, God provided a very practical solution. He raised up an apprentice for him (Elisha) and let him know that there was a remnant that remained and that he was not on his own.
Some Key Points:
- After his ‘high’, Elijah sunk into a deep ‘low’. This is a normal human experience and God can meet us in that place.
- Physical factors like food and sleep can have an important bearing on our spiritual state.
- God’s voice does not always come in spectacular ways but is often through a gentle whisper.
- God has set aside for himself a people, and calls workers to the harvest field.
- Acknowledge the Reality of Emotional Lows – Elijah’s experience here is something that many people experience and don’t know what to do with. This passage helps us understand what is happening and shows what we can do at those times. The importance good food and sleep should not be underestimated.
- Listen to God’s Whispers – One of the most common ways we can hear from God is through the ‘still small voice’. We should develop a practice of listening for this voice and learn to discern when it is truly from God.
- Pray for Workers – In response to Elijah feeling alone, God commissioned a new worker to the field and showed Elijah seven thousand that he was unaware of. Jesus taught us likewise to pray for new workers when the scale of the harvest field before us seems overwhelming.