God knows our weaknesses and He knows when we’ve reached the end of ourselves.
I Kings 19:7
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.”
Elijah had just been used by God in one of the most spectacular displays of God’s power in history (I Kings 18:16-19:39). This was followed by a burst of physical energy that allowed him to outrun the King’s chariots all the way back to the city (I Kings 19:46).
But when he got back to the city, his enemy threatened to kill him. Did he stand in faith and power, trusting that the God who had just rained fire from heaven would protect him?
Nope. He ran in fear and complained in despair.
I Kings 19:3-4
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, 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.”
Elijah was done. And he didn’t just want to quit his ministry, he wanted to die. He didn’t see any hope anywhere and everything he did see pointed to his own failure.
It’s easy for those of us on the outside to judge Elijah and say that he should have known better. But God didn’t do that.
I Kings 19:5-6
Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
God sent an angel to meet Elijah’s physical needs.
Elijah was hungry, lonely, and tired; and as a result of all that, he was angry. But God didn’t rebuke him; He ministered to him.
God provided food, then let him get some sleep. Then He provided more food. God made sure that Elijah got what he needed before He sent him on the next leg of his journey.
I Kings 19:7-9a
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.” 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. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
Only after meeting Elijah’s physical needs for food and rest did God address his attitude. And even then, there was no condemnation.
God asked Elijah a question, and Elijah poured out his fear and despair to God.
I Kings 19:9b-10
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
God didn’t rebuke Elijah for his self-pity. Instead, He met Elijah where he was and showed him how gentle His presence could be (I Kings 19:11-12).
And even after experiencing all that – God’s manifest presence in the gentle whisper, supernatural provision for his physical needs, and the dramatic display of God’s power in defeating the prophets of Baal – Elijah still doubted.
Elijah said the exact same thing in verse 14 as he had in verse 10. Elijah was honest with God about how he felt.
And God didn’t punish him for his honesty. He simply told him to get back in the game and do the next right thing (I Kings 19:15-17).
God did correct Elijah’s thinking, at this point. He told Elijah that what he’d believed in his self-pity was wrong.
I Kings 19:18
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
But God wasn’t just telling Elijah he was wrong; He was telling him that he wasn’t alone.
When I was going through the roughest years of my depression, my mind was condemning me for not doing all the things I should be doing. But God didn’t condemn me.
God met me where I was and told me it was ok to rest. He taught me how to take care of myself so that I could get better.
And even though it was several more years before my mind was clear enough to hear His call on my life, He never pushed me or dragged me to go faster than I was able.
[Jesus said,] “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
When has God shown Himself gentle to you?
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