When It’s Just Too Much

After his successful and spectacular encounter with Ahab and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), Elijah famously runs away when he hears that Jezebel had sworn to kill him. The Bible tells us that he ran away because he was afraid.

1 Kings 19:3 tells us that he ran all the way to the southern tip of Israel from the north, clearly in fear of his life.

An angel meets him and strengthens him with food and water, after Elijah dejectedly asks the Lord to take his life, since he is no better than his (rebellious) fathers (1 Kings 19:4). Then he withdraws even further. This time he goes on a forty day journey into the desert, and into Arabia, to Mt. Horeb, or Sinai. It is there God Himself meets him as he met Moses some five centuries earlier.

The first thing God does is the first thing He always does with us, asks a question. And a telling question it is, too, for it prompts him to complain that he is a lone prophet in a totally corrupt society which is trying to take his life, him as the last representative of the Lord God.

You will recall that God “wows” Elijah with a stunning display of power and speaks to him in a “still small voice,” after which the prophet answers God’s identical question with an identical, despairing answer. It was just too much.

It is here that the Lord gives the final instructions to his servant, and prepares to take him to heaven in spectacular style, but not without letting him know that there were at least 7,000 who had not become Baal worshipers. And the narrative, not surprisingly, introduces several prophets who rise to confront the king. Elijah was not alone after all. It just felt that way.

At some point most true followers of Jesus must deal with “Elijah Disease.” It plagued Moses, David, and certainly Jonah, all of whom despaired of their lives and questioned the ways of God. John the Baptist, the “New Elijah,” even sent to question Jesus about His Messiahship after he had landed in a Roman dungeon.

Fact is, God has a plan unlike our own, a better plan, even if more painful. And God’s answer to all of these and all others who suffer Elijah Disease, is “Be patient. Things are not what they seem. I am having my way with the world, and one day, all will know that you proclaimed and lived the truth. Be faithful to the end.”

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Revelation 2:10

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