WHEN PROPHETS LODGE IN CAVES (1 KINGS 19:1-18)
Are you delighted with your job or are you depressed by it? Do you like or loathe your job?
Associated Press, with government data from 2004 through 2006, reported 7 percent of full-time United States workers battled depression in 2006. Women were more likely than men to have had a major bout of depression, and younger workers had higher rates of depression than their older colleagues.
Almost 11 percent (the highest group) of personal care workers -- which includes child care and helping the elderly and severely disabled with their daily needs -- reported depression lasting two weeks or longer. During such episodes there is loss of interest and pleasure, and at least four other symptoms surface, including problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image. Workers who prepare and serve food -- cooks, bartenders, waiters and waitresses -- had the second highest rate of depression among full-time employees at 10.3 percent.
In a tie for third were health care workers and social workers at 9.6 percent.
The lowest rate of depression, 4.3 percent, occurred in the job category that covers engineers, architects and surveyors.
Depression leads to $30 billion to $44 billion in lost productivity annually, said the report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Just working full-time would appear to be beneficial in preventing depression. The overall rate of depression for full-time workers, 7 percent, compares with the 12.7 percent rate registered by those who are unemployed. "Report ranks jobs by rates of depression"
No job is as stressful as that of a prophet. Before his martyrdom, Stephen charged, "Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?" (Acts 7:52) No wonder Elijah ran for his life, fled for the desert and lodged in a cave.
Why do godly people sometimes resign their post, regret their duty and retreat into oblivion? What can you do when you feel deserted, discouraged and depressed?
God’s Power is Perfected in Peace
19 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, 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." 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7 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." 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
Martin Luther once spent three days in a black depression over something that had gone wrong. On the third day his wife came downstairs dressed in mourning clothes. "Who’s dead?" he asked her. "God," she replied. Luther rebuked her, saying, "What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die." "Well," she replied, "the way you’ve been acting I was sure He had!"
Jezebel the queen called Elijah’s bluff and the prophet fell for the threat. His world fell apart and turned upside down. If Jezebel truly meant to kill him, she would have ordered the same messenger (v 2) to do it on the spot instead of to warn him about the danger. For readers to understand the scope and the magnitude of Elijah’s fear, he is the first and only prophet in the Bible known to fear the worst, enough to run for his life. Early translators did not know what to do with Elijah’s fear, so instead of translating it as "feared" (as in Septuagint, Syriac) they translated it as "saw" (as in MT) since the two words share the same consonants. G. H. Jones (NCB 1& 2 Kings Vol II, p 329) charges that KJV’s "he saw" version was "an early attempt to avoid the reference to Elijah being afraid of Jezebel and the apparent discrepancy between this Elijah and the Elijah of chapter 18." Both views ended the same with Elijah running for cover and begging for death. Interestingly, nothing was as fearful as fear itself, because Jezebel was a shadowy, sinister and spiteful figure Elijah never actually met. The prophet met the king several times (1 Kings 17:1, 18:1, 18:16), but never the queen not even on Mount Carmel. In fact, Jezebel avoided Elijah as much as he feared her. She was missing in the battle at Mount Carmel.