Summary: Sometimes we want to give up because we feel alone and abandoned.


1 Kings 19:1-18

By Cleavon Matthews

December 29, 2003


In this solemn Scripture our attention is seized by the shattered state of God’s messenger. This valiant and venturous prophet has been victimized by fear. At this point he is but a shadow of the man he had been. He is crouched underneath the Juniper tree in despondency and despair. His past miracles have been erased from his short-term memory. The luster of his life has faded from view. He is exhausted. The burning flames of his faith have been extinguished by his emotional handicaps. His brass bravery has been expunged by the price placed on his head. He is a man anticipating nothing but anguish. He has plunged to the point of pathetic. Broken by fear he prays to the God of life for death. Hope has been abandoned. Expectancy has been evacuated. Confidence has been crippled. Nothing remains except emptiness, darkness, and gloom.

It is hard to believe this is the same man. Is this really Elijah the Tishbite? The man we know stood boldly and unapologetic before Ahab and promised a drought of both rain and dew. The man we know drank water from the brook and was fed by the ravens. The Elijah we know told the widow of Zarepath not to be afraid. The man we know brought her son back to life. The Elijah we know defeated and killed the 450 prophets of Baal. The Elijah we know called down fire from heaven and consumed 104 men. The Elijah we know divided the Jordan and walked across on dry ground. The Elijah we know appeared with Jesus and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration. I’m trying to tell you that no matter how great you are you will still have some bad days!

Elijah is suffering from the stress and burden of his ministry. His self-image and self-esteem have been sabotaged. He feels like a failure. He is suffering from an emotional breakdown because he has been carrying the weight of his constituents. He has had all he can take. He has done everything in his power to turn God’s people around. He has been gallant but has received no gratitude. He has been convincing but has received no commendation. He has been truthful but has received no thanksgiving. Instead he has received a death threat from the Queen of corruption. Jezebel, Ahab’s Phoenician bride and servant of Baal has vowed to pierce him through with the sword as payback for the 450 prophets of Baal slain by Elijah.

Elijah was a man with passions like us (James 5:17). He has had enough! He has thrown in the towel. Sometimes as God’s people we become frustrated by our own faulty perceptions and fearful because of dreadful danger. He encouraged others but was unable to encourage himself. He was able to help others but he couldn’t help himself. Elijah has experienced enough! He can’t take anymore! He has reached his breaking point.

But we can’t be too hard on Elijah because we too have…

Problems we can’t solve

Stress we can’t stand

Appetites we can’t control

Tests we can’t tolerate

Desires we can’t contain

Hurts we can’t heal

Fears we can’t fight

Evils we can’t eradicate

Burdens we can’t bear

Dilemmas we can’t denounce

Sickness we can’t succor

Devils we can’t defeat

Storms we can’t settle

Rivers we can’t cross

Debts we can’t pay

Obstacles we can’t overcome

Pains we can’t appease

Gates we can’t open

Mountains we can’t climb

And sometimes we feel like throwing our hands up in the air and saying ‘Lord, I’ve had enough!’ I can’t take this anymore. The pressure has pulverized me. I can’t take this kind of treatment. I’ve had enough! I’m trying to do right but I’m suffering wrong. I’ve had enough of running scared. I’ve had enough. I’m tired of going out full and coming in empty. I’m discouraged, dismayed, and depressed. Lord I can’t keep living like this. My fight has faded. My zeal has gone cold. My determination has dwindled. Elijah is not alone in this kind of spiritual paralysis. Moses had a similar experience in his life (Numbers 11:15). Jeremiah went through a period of defeat and despondency (Jeremiah 20:7-8). Furthermore Jonah also had this kind of situation in his ministry (Jonah 1:12). So Elijah is not the only one.

James describes Elijah as a righteous man. James says Elijah is a man who prayed in faith. He is a man who prays effectually and fervently. He is a man who knows how to call on God. He is a man who knows how to reach the throne of heaven. He is a man who knows how to talk to the Lord. He is a man whose prayers avail much. He is a man who understands the God of heaven answers prayer. When he prayed for the skies to withhold the rain God answered. When he prayed for God to release the rain God answered. When he prayed for God to bring life back to the widow’s son God answered. When he prayed for God to respond by fire God answered. But I’m so glad when he prayed for death God didn’t answer! It was not the Lord’s will for Elijah to die underneath Jezebel’s sword. Don’t think just because your foe has defeated your friends that God will allow them to defeat you! The Lord does at least three things to help us in situations like this. God strengthens us. God searches us. God sends us.

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Danny Brightwell

commented on Apr 20, 2015

Excellent lesson. Thank you for sharing it with others.

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