Summary: Elijah the great prophet shows us his humanity when he panics after a triumphant encounter with Baal worshipers. But God never gives up on him, God feeds him, shelters him, and speaks to him, not in the thunder, but in a still quiet voice.
Ever been caught in a disaster? Chances are that all of us will be at some point, whether it’s a personal crisis or something more widespread such as a tornado or an earthquake.
Doesn’t it seem we’re used to hearing about disasters every day? Some, like the oil spill, or the sudden flood in the Arkansas campground are more disastrous than others. And in truth, mostly we don’t expect that they’ll ever happen to us. But, how do we, how might we react in a life threatening crisis?
Say you’re traveling in a Third World country and get caught in the crossfire of a coup attempt or you’re hiking in the back country and are suddenly surrounded by walls of flame from a lightning-struck wildfire, or a sudden flood as did the poor folks in Arkansas, or get him by a tsunami.
Maybe because we’ve gotten a taste of some of these scenarios in the past year or so, National Geographic Adventure magazine has put up a Web site to help us out with some tips on how to survive almost anything.
If you’re suddenly confronted with whizzing bullets and masked gunmen in a foreign country, for example, the best thing to do is make your way to the airport or the embassy. If you get captured and held for ransom, security experts say to try to relax and go along because 95 percent of international kidnappings are resolved with a payoff.
Are you watching the water on the beach recede unusually fast? Run for high ground or the tallest building you can find before the impending tsunami wave hits or, if you get caught in the water, ride it out by keeping your feet up and in front of you as if you had just fallen out of a whitewater raft. Power grid crashes? Make sure you have a good survival kit before the fact. Caught in a wildfire? Ditch your synthetic pack and clothes, which will melt under the heat, and head for the nearest body of water or a clearing while covering your nose and mouth with a wet cotton cloth or even some dirt.
Granted, you aren’t likely to be running from terrorists or tsunamis. On the other hand:
• You might suddenly face the loss of a job.
• You might suddenly discover that your marriage is in trouble.
• You might suddenly face the loss of your health.
• You might suddenly lose a loved one.
These events are low probability, but they’re high impact if they happen to you!
In truth, a lot of the advice for surviving a low-probability, high-impact event is just common sense; for example, if your GPS stops working, go old school and use a map (duh).
Problem is, though, common sense is often one of the first things we lose in an instant emergency. When confronted with a survival scenario, often we panic, and loose the ability to calm down and work the problem step by step that eludes us. And that can mean the difference between life and death. Thinking positive can be a lifesaver, while negative thoughts of hopelessness can be a killer.
Elijah and the killer queen
Elijah could have used this advice in his crisis. After Elijah just kicked tail in the contest with pagan prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18), Then, a messenger comes to him with a life threatening message from the evil pagan queen and Baal worshiper Jezebel. She plans to have Elijah killed within 24 hours.
Almost overnight, Elijah goes from being triumphant to being a target. Instead of confronting the queen with the help of God, who had just demonstrated some pretty serious firepower, Elijah panics and flees for his life out into the desert (1 Kings 19:1-3), where fear and despair bring him to the point of wanting to die (v. 4).
Elijah’s crisis scenario can teach us a lot about our own spiritual survival, especially when we evaluate it in light of several important survival skills that have more to do with character, wits and even worldview than with having the right equipment or the ability to determine the right kinds of bugs and tree bark to munch on. When hit with crisis of faith, we need to remember some things that will help us “return on [our] way” (v. 15).
The first thought we need in a crisis is about doing the next right thing. Survivors of emergencies, life threatening situations again and again express how they were able to break down the emergency into small, manageable tasks. Each step, each chunk must be as simple as possible. … Simple, directed action is the key to regaining normal psychological functioning. I can remember the strongest lesson my flight instructor ever gave me. If I find myself lost, or disorientated, or suspect something is wrong with the airplane, the first step is to “fly the airplane!” Rather than fast-forwarding our thoughts out to all the potential negative outcomes, we need to be able to break the problem down into manageable parts.